making pastels


Gum tragacanth or Carboxyl methylcellulose for binder.

Pigments – do not use toxic pigments, as you are likely to breathe in the dust when you use the pastels.

Base – The usual one that is recommended is precipitated chalk. I find this does not work well. It tends to form a skin whilst staying wet inside. The pastels then flatten out under their own weight as they dry. Recently I have generally used kaolin, which handles better although it is a little clayey. I find whiting the easiest base material to handle but it does not produce as pure a white. You can simply use white pigment – this will be more expensive but will ensure your light tints are clean.

The two best sources for these materials are –

L Cornelissen & Son Ltd
105 Great Russell Street

Tel 020 7636 1045

Website -

A P Fitzpatrick
142 Cambridge Heath Road
Bethnal Green
E1 5QJ

Tel 020 7790 0884

Website -

A P Fitzpatrick are the English agents for Dr Georg Kremer who is probably the world’s leading supplier of artists’ pigments. His website is -

Both firms operate a mail order service.