making pastels

making the binder

Making the binder

Put 30 ml of gum tragacanth in the mixing bowl and wet with 45 ml of vodka. (This apparently helps to dissolve the gum). Add 855 ml of water and stir. Cover and leave overnight in a warm place. You will now have water with a thick, gummy mass at the bottom. You will now have to use your beater to mix this all together. (I use a hand-held electric whisk). It also helps if you put the mixing bowl in a saucepan of hot water. However do not actually boil the mixture. Now strain the mixture through the jelly bag into a 1.5 l bottle (this is where the funnel comes in).

Shake the bottle to mix again and, when the bubbles have subsided, fill a 500 ml bottle with it. This is your strong solution.

To the remainder (which should be around 400 ml) add an equal quantity of water. Shake well to mix and fill a 500 ml bottle with it. This is your medium solution.

To the remainder (which should now be about 300 ml) add an equal quantity of water. This is your weak solution.

These solutions should keep for a couple of weeks. You will know when to get rid of the remainder by the smell. You probably will throw most of the solutions away – you could make an awful lot of pastels with these quantities. The alternative is to freeze the remaining solutions – this seems to work quite well.

Carboxyl methylcellulose – mix with water in the proportion of 1:30 or 1:60 as recommended by the manufacturer. Add water to the powder and leave to stand for 1-2 days, until completely dissolved. Dilute to make 1:90 (medium) and 1:120 weak solutions.