In a rush one day, I grabbed an 18×24 cork bulletin board instead of the Masonite board I usually use to support my pastel paper. To my surprise, I liked the substitute better then the Masonite and now I use it all the time.
Before I begin working, I simply staple newspaper to the bulletin board and then use thumbtacks to attach my paper and reference photos to the board. Once my materials are secure, I can safely move it to work upright on an easel or flat on a table. In addition, the cork surface provides just the right amount of cushion for working with pastels. The wood frames around the board supplies a lip across which I can place a yardstick to rest my hand on and keep from smudging my work. The frame also catches loose pastel dust. To clean up I replace the newspaper and wipe off the frame.
When I need to transport my work, I leave the paper attached to the bulletin board and simply place a piece of 18×24 foam board over it. The wood keeps the foam board from disturbing the pastels.
Mark Gottsegen is an associate professor of art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and chair of the American Society of Testing and Materials subcommittee on artists materials.