jars). But, all of these leftover pastel fragments can be reworked into viable forms.
I keep it simple, because I don’t want to produce pastels from scratch; I just want to redeploy my leftovers. For health reasons, it’s advisable to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth as well as surgical gloves to protect your hands. Never blow the dust around; instead, use a damp rag to wipe up any messes. Along with the pastel fragments or collected dust, you’ll need a large smooth surface for mixing (a marble tile or ¼-inch picture glass surface works well), utensils for grinding the pigments together (a 1¼-inch putty knife from the hardware store will work), distilled or purified water, and paper towels.
Place the pastel fragments and/or dust on the mixing surface and carefully grind it by flattening the putty knife blade into the pile. Keep reforming the mound and repeating the grinding procedure until no more grit is felt and the pastel fragments have been pulverized into a pile of pigment. This can take quiet a bit of effort and repetition. If you leave too much grit, there will be surprise flecks of color in the stick you produce. Create a small cone shape (a volcano mountain shape) out of the pigment and make a crater in the center. (The photo at left shows my pile of pastel fragments, the pulverized dust shaped into
a mountain, and my required mxing tools: marble tile, water, putty knife and
Next, slowly add water, a drop at a time. It’s best to add too little than too much. Since you’re working with what was once a pastel, the binder and preservatives are already part of the mix. Allow some time for the water to soak in and then slowly fold the pigment back into the mix until a paste is created, much like a heavy dough. Pick up with your fingers the amount you wish to form into a shape and gently roll this out on a paper towel until it resembles a Tootsie roll candy. (Some artists like to pat the paste into pillows or other shapes, rather than a log-shape; feel free to experiment.) Leave the pastels on the towel to dry (usually a few days) and then place them back in service in your pastel palette. (The second photo shows the mixed paste, the formed pastel stick (on the paper towel), and an example of finished dry leftover pastels.)
You can mix different pastel colors to obtain interesting colors or mix a lot of fragments and obtain grays (neutrals), something I often do. But don’t fall too in love with the stick you produce, since it’s one of a kind!
Another way of utilizing these tiny pastel bits is to grind them down along with a white pastel stick and create tints (a little piece of strong pigment will go a long way in making a lighter tint).