What to do with those pastel chips

If you work with pastels then you probably have noticed over time, that you may tend to reach for your favorite "go to" color in your endless stash of pastels.  If you are anything like me, that favorite color gets worn down to a nub or a chip.  Or then there comes a time when your pastel accidentally jumps from your dusty fingers and happily lands on the floor below, ending up in a scattered pile of chips and dust. Yeah, you know what I'm talkin' about here.... "Pastel woes". 

While I was online surfing the web, digging up information on art and artists, I stumbled upon Kitty Wallis' "Crumble Colors" idea that she shared on her blog. This was an exciting find and wanted to try it with my pile of chips that I had been saving over the years, and here is what I came up with....

Here is my pile of chips and thinly worn down fav's. (somewhat separated)

First of all, I took my chips outside to avoid inhaling and spreading pastel dust in my studio. I then separated all the chips into piles of values and likely colors. I moved a few chips into opposing groups, but kept in mind to always gather near values together.

Here I have mixed crushed orange and pink chips.

In the example above, I separated one pile of similar colors into two groups, each onto their own paper towel...some more orange, some more pink, keeping the colors separated to avoid making mud. Fold one side of the paper towel over like a sandwich. Then take a glass cup from the kitchen, to act as a rolling pin, and crush the pastels down evenly into small bits the size of beach sand. As per Kitty's directions, I tried not to crush all the chips into dust so that the colors still have their individual hue. However, some dust should occur to act as a "binder" to hold the chips together. When both piles are evenly crushed, combined them together to make the mystery color, or "Crumble Color". Stir them together by holding the opposing ends of the paper towel to allow the chips to roll and mix together and are evenly dispersed in the pile (as shown above).

Rolling with protective gloves

So you have your crumbled chips all mixed and ready to roll. Take a spray bottle and fill it with water and set it to "mist".  (Hint:  I use a paper towel on the spray bottle handle so not to spread the pigment onto it.)  Gingerly spray the mixture on the pile of chips and disperse the moisture throughout the pile. At some point, you can pick up the moistened mix and try to roll it into your desired shape. My shape looks just like a little cigar, but you can make any shape to your hearts desire.  If you add too much water, you can simply pat the "clay" into the paper towel to absorb the extra moisture and then finish off the shape. As you roll the pastel stick, you can pick up the leftover fragments to combine all chips.

Here is my finished "Crumble Color" set out to dry

Depending on your region's humidity, set the rolled pastels aside to dry for about a week. If the pastel seems "cool" to the touch, then it is still too wet and weak to use. Allow plenty of time for it to dry out completely as the binder will "cement" the stick together.  I have not tried my new sticks at the time of this posting as they are still drying, but hope to try them out soon enough on my next work of art.  If you come up with some interesting mystery colors, do share with me as I'd love to know what works.  Have fun!


loriann signori said...

ooh la la...what a fabulous idea! thanks for sharing!!!!

B Boylan said...

My pleasure Loriann. My bet is that you wil come up with some fabulous combinations!