How to Fix Broken Soft Pastels - Upsmag - Magazine News

How to Fix Broken Soft Pastels

Previously this year, we shared a technique for repairing damaged PanPastels and a handful of readers asked us if there was a comparable method to fix damaged soft pastels. We chose to check out a number of methods that might possibly, in theory, repair work damaged pastel sticks and see if they worked. This short article describes the procedures I utilized in my experiments, the outcomes in addition to some additional tips and suggestions.


Numerous artists who utilize soft pastel sticks understand the familiar sensation of opening their pastel box to discover that a few of the sticks inside have actually fallen apart, or to be utilizing their pastels just to feel them snap in between their fingers. A damaged pastel stick can often still be utilized as smaller sized, different portions, however it can be a discouraging problem when the pieces are especially little or have actually burglarized dust. It’s a typical issue, and regrettably it is the rate we pay to deal with such a fragile and tactile product. However exists a method to fix damaged soft pastels?



What Are Soft Pastels?

A soft pastel is a kind of pastel that is made to be as soft as possible. For this short article, we will be concentrating on soft pastels that can be found in a stick type, nevertheless they likewise come as pencils and as PanPastels. The softness of pastel sticks enables blending colours straight on a surface area instead of on a scheme ahead of time. Due to the fact that of this, soft pastel sticks normally can be found in a big variety of colours which are used straight to the surface area, and after that mixed utilizing the artists’ fingers, a paper stump or colour shaper. The nature of this procedure produces an instant and tactile painting experience.


What Are Soft Pastels Made From?

To comprehend why soft pastel sticks may break, it assists to comprehend how and what they are constructed of. Sticks of soft pastel are made by integrating pure pigment powder with a clay binder and after that making it into sticks. Basically, these type of soft pastels are lightly-compressed sticks of powder with the capability to produce strokes of extreme colour.

The very best quality pastels are typically made with single pigments suggesting they will have the purest and brightest-looking colours. Their formula will have the maximum percentage of pigment to binder, which suggests they will have less binder and more pigment. Although this leads to the sticks developing more saturated shades, it really suggests they are most likely to break or collapse as there is less binder holding the powder together.

Other soft pastel sticks – that are still of an exceptional or mid-range quality – consist of a greater concentration of binder and less pigment. Regardless of the less extreme colour, this makes them less prone to damage and falling apart. They are likewise usually more budget friendly. So if keeping your pastels undamaged for longer is more crucial to you than the pigment ratio, you might want to go with these types.


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Can You Fix a Broken Soft Pastel Stick?

At the start of my research study, I connected to Unison Colour to see if they might use an insight into repairing damaged pastels. They stated:

“For the paler colours, grinding them down, including a little water and improving will get the job done. Then by putting them in a warm location for one to 2 days they ought to be all set to utilize. The darker coloured pastels nevertheless are far harder where drying ends up being a concern, which can lead to scratchy, tough pastels”
– Hazel, Quality Controller at Unison Colour

The procedure of grinding down and re-wetting the powders sounded comparable to the strategy we utilized in our abovementioned short article How to Repair Broken PanPastels. Nevertheless, instead of pushing the pastel mix into a pan, Hazel recommends that it is possible to improve the pastel back into a stick. And instead of utilizing an isopropyl alcohol service, like we made with the PanPastels, she recommends utilizing water.

With Hazel’s remark in mind, I attempted a technique initially utilizing water, however I likewise chose to likewise attempt it once again with an alcohol service for contrast. For my tests I utilized Jackson’s Handmade Soft Pastels. These are high quality, artist grade pastels and there are 200 soft and brilliant colours in the variety. I selected Violet Pink and Chromium Oxide Green. The factor for choosing these 2 tones was to see how a light-coloured pigment fared compared to the dark-coloured one. I likewise attempted each two times, following the very same procedure however changing which liquid I contributed to them – the alcohol and the water.

Listed below I lay out the complete procedure in more information and the varying outcomes of each experiment.


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Approach One – Utilizing Water to Repair Work Broken Soft Pastels

Action 1. I took the damaged pastel and put it into a clear plastic bag. I consisted of all of the loose product, consisting of any bigger portions of unbroken pastel as it gets squashed down and blended in later on.


Broken Pink Soft Pastel


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Action 2. Utilizing a spoon over the top of the bag, I squashed the pastel as much as possible leading to a great dust. An alternative method to get the pastel into this state would be to utilize a pestle and mortar. I discovered that the Violet Pink pastel broke down much easier whereas the Chromium Oxide Green was somewhat harder however eventually led to a finer dust. Bear in mind that similar to all dust, pastel dust can be an irritant if you breathe it in, so if you attempt these approaches in your home, prevent blowing the dust away, as that will trigger the dust to end up being air-borne and can quickly blow back. If you are especially allergic or conscious dust, using a dust mask is suggested.


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Action 3. I then put the dust into a container and included a couple of teaspoons of water. The quantity of water required might alter depending upon the size of the soft pastel stick or the kind of soft pastel. I included water slowly – one teaspoon at a time – to guarantee the service didn’t end up being too runny. I was going for a thick paste.


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Action 4. The soft pastel dust was not especially soluble with water. Rather of sinking or absorbing the water, the dust sat listed below the beads of water and stayed entirely dry. This is due to the fact that of the surface area stress of the water. When blending with a teaspoon, I discovered that the dust did not take in the water quickly at all. It was a lot more efficient to blend the water into the dust utilizing my fingers. It was an unpleasant procedure (I chose to use some thin protective gloves) however it permitted me to push the water into the dust a lot easier and produce the suitable consistency.


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Step 5. Once I had a thick paste, I put it into the palm of my hands and utilized my fingers to roll it together, a bit like clay or plasticine. It’s worth keeping in mind that it can be simple at this moment to lose a great deal of the product, and as an outcome the improved stick can end up being significantly smaller sized than the initial unbroken one. I discovered it was much better to include somewhat more water to gather as much of the dust as possible. If I had actually included excessive water, I might have constantly left the mix to dry for a brief while – possibly 15 minutes or two – prior to trying to improve.


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Action 6. Once I enjoyed that I had actually improved the mix into a stick shape, I put it carefully on a paper towel on a flat surface area. To attempt and get the most consistent shape possible, I likewise attempted pushing my ‘brand-new’ stick into some extra foam pastel product packaging (the kind discovered in brand-new pastel boxes). Nevertheless, there wasn’t much distinction in the outcome, so utilizing my fingers alone in the lack of a foam insert sufficed.


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Action 7. I then left the pastel stick in a warm location to dry over night. It was especially warm weather condition throughout the time of my experiments, so I discovered leaving the pastels on a windowsill worked well and they were entirely dry by early morning.


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Soft pastels sticks moulded with water (left) and alcohol (right).


Outcomes of Utilizing Water to Repair Work Broken Soft Pastels

In general, this technique did lead to a reformed strong soft pastel stick. The stick didn’t appear like a brand-new pastel, however it did dry and had the ability to be gotten and used to a surface area. The lead to the pictures listed below program that there was little to no modification in regards to colour.

Violet Pink

As pointed out, the Violet Pink pastel broke down much easier however was really somewhat clumpier than the Chromium Oxide Green. When combined with the water it imitated clay and was really simple to improve in my hands. It dried as anticipated and the improved stick stayed undamaged. As you can see in the image, the pastel does appear powderier on the paper after being fixed which recommends it might not be as long lasting as previously, nevertheless I was still able to utilize it as typical. There was no modification in the colour.


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L – R: Drawing with the Violet Pink Soft Pastel prior to and after fixing with water.


Chromium Oxide Green

The Chromium Oxide Green was harder to squash into dust, once I’d handled this, it produced a really smooth mix with the water which was simple to improve. Likewise to the Violet Pink, the Chromium Oxide Green led to a functional pastel stick.


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L – R: Drawing with the Chromium Oxide Green Soft Pastel prior to and after fixing with water.



Approach 2 – Utilizing Alcohol to Repair Work Broken Soft Pastels


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This technique duplicates the precise procedure in actions above, apart from rather of including water to the pastel dust, I included an isopropyl alcohol service (likewise called isopropanol or ‘rubbing alcohol’).

An option with an alcohol material in between 70-99.9% will work, nevertheless a purer service will offer much better outcomes as you wish to prevent anything with ingredients or oils. I handled to discover a service of 99.9% in my regional hardware shop.


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The alcohol soaks into the pastel dust a lot easier than the water and I had the ability to blend it with a spoon. When improving the alcohol mix paste into a stick, it is essential to use protective gloves, as the alcohol is a hazardous irritant to skin.


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I discovered that the alcohol mix felt more wet than the water one, and as an outcome it might be more difficult to form it into a uniform shape. Nevertheless, it appeared to dry much quicker than the water tests.


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Leading to Bottom: Violet Pink moulded with water, then alcohol. Chromium Oxide Green moulded with water, then alcohol.


Outcomes of Utilizing Alcohol to Repair Work Broken Soft Pastel

Violet Pink

The Violet Pink combined quickly with the alcohol service and was basic to improve. The colour of the stick did appear somewhat darker than the water-based one. Nevertheless, as soon as dry and utilized on paper there was no noticeable modification in the colour pigment. This stick felt grittier than the one repaired with water.


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L – R: Drawing with the Violet Pink Soft Pastel prior to and after fixing with alcohol.


Chromium Oxide Green

The Chromium Oxide Green combined well with the alcohol in the bowl nevertheless it was much more difficult to improve into a stick. It ended up being clumpy and apart in my hand, leading to a less consistent shape and a couple of distressing fractures. When dry and utilized on paper the pastel stick did stay undamaged, nevertheless it was really gritty – more so than the Violet Pink. Once again, there was no modification in how the colour appeared on paper.


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L – R: Drawing with the Chromium Oxide Green Soft Pastel prior to and after fixing with alcohol.


In general, it appears the pastels repaired with water offered much better, smoother and more constant outcomes. Like Hazel from Unison Colour pointed out, the darker shade did produce a scratchier repaired pastel, specifically when it comes to the alcohol-based experiment.



Alternatives to Fixing Broken Soft Pastels and Tips for Preventing Damage

A method to guarantee that your soft pastel sticks last longer is to maintain them. Utilizing a box with foam inserts secures the pastels from knocking into each other while being transferred. You’re a lot more most likely to have a box of unbroken pastels if you utilize among these instead of keeping them loose inside a container.


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While utilizing your pastels, prevent using excessive pressure from your fingers. Soft pastels are actively grainy, suggesting it does not take much to move the pigment onto the surface area. Attempt utilizing light strokes to prevent any damage. Nevertheless, often a damaged pastel is simply an inescapable part of utilizing soft pastel sticks. Hazel from Unison Colour made another idea of how to repurpose your damaged pastels:

“For an alternative usage of damaged pastels, they can be changed into a watercolour medium. By just grinding them up and including a little water they are perfect to utilize as an under wash for pastel work or by utilizing a great brush to include information to your art work.”
– Hazel, Quality Controller at Unison Colour

I attempted this out by putting my damaged pastel in a container, and utilizing a little bit of water to blend a percentage of it on a scheme. I utilized adequate water to break down and take in any bigger clumps of the dust on the combination prior to using it to the paper. When adequately combined, I utilized a soft flat brush to produce a brilliantly coloured, smooth wash.


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In general, these approaches provided fairly satisfying outcomes. While not producing ‘good-as-new’ soft pastels, the experiments showed it is possible to reform a damaged pastel stick and recycle it. Nevertheless, various colours appear to act in a different way, making it unforeseeable regarding whether it deserves your time to go through this procedure. Taking preventative measures and repurposing your pastels might be a less lengthy choice in general. Nevertheless, if you discover yourself with an excess of coloured dust in the bottom of your pastel box, I’d be interested to hear how these approaches worked for you. Or if you have any totally various approaches of your own, do not hesitate to share your ideas with us in the remarks listed below.



More Checking Out

How to Repair Broken Panpastels

In Discussion With Nina Squire About Unison Colour Pastel

Whatever You Required to Learn About Pastel Paper

Utilizing Soft Pastels for Observational Illustration


Store Soft Pastels at


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