Make Your Own Pastels

Aim of Experiment

Pastels can create impressive pictures. In this experiment you will make your own Pastels.

What You Need

Gum tragacanth is available from good art stores.

Pigment can be obtained from any good art supplier. The easiest pigments to obtain are powder paints. Your art supplier may have a range of natural pigments, which would have been the only pigments available to people in the past. To see where we got our pigments from, and to find on-line suppliers, take a look at our suppliers section.

What To Do

  1. Add a ¼ of a teaspoon of gum tragacanth to a pint of water and stir.
  2. Place a heaped teaspoon of pigment onto a plastic sheet.
  3. Add the solution of gum tragacanth drop by drop until you have made a thick paste.
  4. Shape the pastel into a cylindrical shape by rolling the paste with kitchen towel.
  5. Leave to dry for at least 24 hours.

The Science

The pastel requires two main components - a pigment and a binder. The pigment is the small insoluble coloured particles which gives the pastel its colour. The binder is the substance which holds the pastel together. The binder is the gum tragacanth for the pastel.

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