UART Tip #30: “Pastels Rounded, Broken, or Misshapen?” with Jen Evenhus

There’s nothing better than opening a box of brand new Terry Ludwig pastels that are perfectly shaped with razor-sharp edges, just waiting for that first perfect stroke on your paper!

Painting is hard enough without having to contend with sticks that have lost their shape, are irregular, or broken after being dropped onto the studio floor!

After just a few paintings, your pastels might look like this – rounded, jagged or warped with holes and nicks on the edges . . .

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting in the groove, laying down bold strokes with confidence, only to have the stroke uneven by using an irregular stick.

Well, I have the solution for this problem.

It’s called Sheetrock Screen – a sanding screen that can be found at your local hardware store – an open screen that allows the pastel to fall through the screen into a tray so you can save the dust/shavings for making new pastels!! This photo shows how the screen comes, after which I cut it in half, or thirds for ease of use.

It’s easy to reshape your pastels and put that razor sharp edge back on so you get a consistent stroke each time. Take your screen and hold it over a tray (frozen dinner trays are perfect for this) and sand/shave each of two adjoining sides of the pastel until you get 2 flat sides and a sharp edge.

It took me a few months of flattening all sides of the pastel until I figured out that you only need one sharp edge … don’t waste the pastel by flattening and sharpening each side/edge. Shave the ends, too – those are more shapes to use while painting.

Do save your dust/shavings until you have enough to make a new stick – experiment with combining different colors to create your own hues – then simply add a few drops of distilled water until you have a paste consistency that will easily form into a new rectangular stick.

Let it dry and shave it for flat sides and sharp edges!

I have been using this pill dispenser container to save my dust – get creative – there’s all kinds of containers out there – find one that works for you.

Happy shaving!

Jen Evenhus

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