April 20, 2010

Making Pastels from Dust

Do you have a catch-tray full of pastel dust? If so, you might want to reclaim that expensive falling dust and turn it in to little bars of gold. Well, okay, they look more like slugs but they are easy to make and you can even get creative with the shapes. I actually formed mine to look like slugs. What can I say? I am inspired by my (Pacific Northwest) surroundings.

You will need
  • Pastel Dust
  • Gloves
  • A mixing container (preferably a disposable one)
  • A spoon or palette knife for stirring
  •  A smooth surface for forming your pastel stick/log/slug
I am assuming you are using professional pastels and it doesn't matter if you have used a variety of brands. If you want, you can even leave the tiny chunks of color in for  "surprise" streaks.

The pastel dust already has a binder in it so you won't need to add that. Just add enough (filtered) water to make the dust moldable. You don't want it too gooey so go light with the water. Once you have have the right consistency, form your logs, or slugs, and leave them out to dry for a couple days or until they no longer feel cold to the touch.
Have fun! I would love to know if your experiment was successful.



  1. What a great tidbit of info. I'll store it in 'the vault' for the day I start using pastel. I think slugs is the perfect name for these little critters...


  2. Thank you for the tip. I'll have to try it. They look like something my cat would cough up :-0

  3. Hey Don, I would *love* to see what you do with pastels!

    You're welcome, Ariel. Hmmmm, I just wonder; here kitty kitty...

  4. I did this, was hoping for a nice neutral grey, but at the last minute threw in a few burnt sienna chips ( I don't just use dust, I throw in the tiny little pieces left when you have used up 99% of the pastel ) and it turned my beautiful warm grey into that dull peachy brown.

    I used regular water to do mine...wonder what the difference is with distilled water?

  5. Hi Jennifer. I'm glad to know this is something you have tried. I'm sorry to hear your colors didn't turn out as you expected but I don't think there is any such thing as a color with no use so I suspect it will find it's proper home among your other pastels.

    I don't know that tap water would make much difference, I simply recommend filtered by default (not wanting to introduce anything unnecessarily).

    Happy Painting!