Ingredients: earth pigment, water, binder of your choice (limestone powder, wheat paste, honey or white soap (grate and dissolve a small amount in water)).
Prep Time: 5 – 45 minutes, depending on which binder you use.
Making Your Own
I am sharing with you a natural pastel recipe used by many Renaissance artists for drawings. It dates back to the mid 18th century but please know that I have put a 21st century twist to it.
Making your own pastels allows you to create them as soft or as hard as you like. Commercial pastels have to be made hard enough to withstand breakage. (However, below you can find a specific brand of soft pastels that are truly organic in every way.)
The paint quality is so very rich, and the colors considerably much more intense. The colors are lavish and can be textured or blended smooth. I particularly love them because I prefer working with my hands but with an auto immune disorder, that is sometimes difficult. And since your skin is your largest organ,
I must be careful of toxins....and gluten.
Wheat, rice, or rye flour work well.
Being A Celiac, and it being an auto immune disorder, I obviously use rice flour. I have learned that corn flour also works well.
Use about 1 part flour to 6 parts water. Mix flour with a small amount of water to make a smooth paste. Then add hot water to make a thin paste. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens to an oatmeal-type consistency. Use immediately or refrigerate to preserve it for a few days.
Pastels must always be framed and glazed to best preserve them. Most acrylic sheeting is not satisfactory to glaze pastels because its static charge will attract pastel particles, a problem that is exacerbated when the plastic is rubbed (during cleaning, for example). To protect the surface of these fragile works, shatterproof glass with an Ultraviolet (UV) barrier is recommended.
Pastels must also be protected from mold and other forms of biodeterioration, problems to which they are vulnerable because of the organic binders in the crayons, the adhesives used in the mounting structure, and their paper supports. Environmental levels must be kept in a range of 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 48 to 52 percent relative humidity. High humidity can provoke staining; low levels can lead to desiccation of the support.
For travel and transport, pastels should be framed and kept in a horizontal, face-up position. One of the greatest hazards to a pastel is vibration. This can be reduced by cushioning crates with ethafoam, or, for short distances, wrapping the composition in bubble wrap with the bubbles facing outward.
Understanding the particular properties of pastel enhances our appreciation for the distinctive light and beautiful richness of color of the medium, qualities underlying its great acclaim in the eighteenth century. It also enables us to take the steps needed to preserve these fragile portraits so that we may continue to enjoy them and ensure their future in good condition.