When I was a feature artist in the TV series Put Some Colour In Your Life in Feb. 2020 I painted a pastel sunset and on a number of occasions my pastel sticks crumbled in my hands. Fortunately I had plenty and was able to use another stick of the same colour. But many people who have watched the show have repeatedly asked me how often does this happen? And how expensive is it to replace broken pastels? And what DO you do with the little pieces that are now too small to use?
These are really valid questions because pastels are very expensive and as they are soft chalks they often crumble and some of my absolute favourites can only be bought overseas. Tricky indeed! However many pastelists get around these dilemmas by making their own pastels, and I have found the perfect, simple formula for doing so. PROBLEM SOLVED By following these 7 simple steps you will be able to remake your very own beautiful pastels.
1) Collect all your crumbs and broken bits into same colour tones – blue, red, dark, light etc into a dish. Remove any debris such as pet hair – gets into everything- eraser crumbs etc. 2) Crush with a pestle or the back end of a spoon until it is a fine powder. The powder must be fine. 3) Pour the powder onto an old chopping board and gradually add very small amounts of water – a few drops at a time. It is handy to use a dropper of some sort so that you can control the amount of water. 4) With a palette knife fold and mix the water in until it resembles a paste or cake batter. If it is too sloppy or wet, just add some more pastel crumbs. This is the tricky bit and takes a little practise – too sloppy and the pastel will crumble and too dry and it will be rock hard. 5) Carefully scoop the paste onto a piece of paper – e.g. sketch paper.
6) Roll up the paper with the paste inside and secure in place with tape. 7) Leave to dry for a few days in a warm place. And wallah – you have made your very own pastel stick. Of course practice makes perfect and the key is the amount of water that is added but by following these simple instructions you will never have to worry about running out of your favourite colours or the waste in not being able to use the little end scraps. And as you gain experience you can experiment and create a whole new colour palette. PS – if you would like to watch my TV episode where I demonstrate how to paint an Australian pastel sunset just follow the link.