Have you ever thought about making your own soft pastels? The main advantage of making your own pastels is that you can control the color(s) and the consistency of the pastels.  Also, if you tend to use a lot of a particular color, you can make a bunch of pastels in that color, as well as tints and shades. Plus, it's just cool to discover how they are made! 

I'm not an expert in making pastels - I've only done it a few times - but I thought I'd throw this out there in case anyone is interested!  There are lots of different pastel recipes floating around, depending on whether you want to add filler or preservatives, for example.  The recipe I followed is fairly simple and doesn't require too many ingredients. 

When masking pastels, remember to work in a well-ventilated area (I made mine outdoors).  Pastel particles can be dangerous if inhaled, so it's advisable to wear a face mask and use a hand barrier cream and/or latex gloves.  Remember not to eat or drink while working with any of these materials.


  • Powdered pigments* - at least 1 pigment to start with, more if you want to make more colors
  • Gum tragacanth*
  • Glass jar
  • Water
  • Glass Palette
  • Palette Knife
  • Pigment
  • Paper Towel
  • Pastel paper to test your finished pastel(s)

* I purchased the powdered pigments and gum tragacanth from http://www.earthpigments.com/


The gum tragacanth will serve as the binder that holds the pigment together.  In your glass jar, place 1 part gum tragacanth to 30 parts water. Mix them together until the gum tragacanth is fully dissolved, and then refrigerate the jar for 48 hours.

After the gum tragacanth solution is ready, place a pile of pigment onto your glass palette.  Make a hole in the middle of the pigment pile, as shown above right.

Spoon out a small amount of the gum tragacanth mixture and place it in the hole in the middle of the pigment, as shown right.

Use your palette knife to thoroughly mix together the pigment and the gum tragacanth solution.  Your goal is to achieve a doughy consistency.  If you need to, you can add more gum tragacanth solution or more pigment until this doughy consistency is achieved.

Use your palette knife and your fingers to mold the doughy mixture into a pastel shape.  Place the pastel onto a paper towel and let it dry, which will usually take between 24-48 hours.

It might not be the prettiest-looking pastel, but it'll do!

Here's a quick mark I made after the pastel dried.  As you can see the color is very strong and the pastel makes a nice mark!

Hope you enjoyed this overview on how to make your own pastels! As I said earlier, I'm no expert on this, but it was fun to experiment!

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Nice and simple. Thanks for the DIY tips. I might have a go at this. :)

Are the supplies expensive?

As for cost of the supplies, that depends if you already have most of the supplies for painting (such as the glass palette, palette knife etc).  The pigments tend to cost between $2.50 and $10, depending on the type and color. The gum tragacanth was $16 but a little jar can go a long way. 

I think for people on a budget, making your own pastels isn't a "must-do" - it's more of a "fun to do if you feel like it", or more for pastel enthusiasts who want to make pastels in certain colors or quantities.

Keith, if you try this, it would be cool to see how yours turn out!

Looks like a chocolate truffle - I want to eat it! :D

Fascinating! The end result reminded me of a beautiful piece of fudge!

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