pastels - handmade

This page will be an ongoing documentation of my pastel making trials.

I am in the process of making soft pastels. I have ultramarine & oxide pigments left over from soapmaking. I also have a few cosmetic clays.

I am going for a soft silky feel. That means I will be using white kaolin clay. If I need a harder pastel, I will add precipitated chalk. But so far, I haven't needed the chalk at all and have been using the weakest solution of gum.

It starts off with a solution of water and gum tragacanth in five dilutions. The stronger the solution, the harder the pastel. So far I have found that unless I use straight clay (I've used white kaolin so far), I need the weakest solution.
gum solution

The first pastel I made is this 100% white kaolin clay with a medium dilution rate. It's a beautifully soft and silky, off-white pastel.
pastel - white kaolin clay, solution C detail sketch with kaolin clay pastel

My next experiment was with red iron oxide. This was completely different than the clay. It remained hard and gritty no matter which solution I used. So I ended up using a a 4:1 ratio of white clay to red iron oxide and the weakest gum solution. I'm happy and surprised that the clay didn't lighten the red iron oxide very much.
pastels: white & red oxide quick sketch detail


  1. Replies
    1. It wasn't very successful. All of the pigments need different strengths of the gum solution. By the time I was done experimenting, I realized this was too much like reinventing the wheel. :)


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