Cheap Pastels Recipe – How to Make Your Own

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August 03, 2018

Art supplies can be expensive. You may be surprised to learn that you can actually make some of your own supplies to reduce the expense. The following are cheap pastel recipes. Use them to make your own pastels rather than purchasing them at an art supply store.


Cheap pastels can be made from three basic ingredients: pigment, binder, and filler. While you may want to use the more expensive Gum Arabic or Gum Tragacanth to produce more professional-quality pastels, you can make them from much cheaper ingredients. For the simple home-made version you’ll need the following:


  • 1/4 cup rolled or crushed oats
  • 1 quart distilled water
  • 2 tablespoons powdered tempera or poster paint
  • 1/2 cup unscented talcum or baby powder


The oats and water will act as the binder, the paint is the pigment, and the talcum powder is the filler. You can use this same basic recipe to make any colour pastel you desire.


Bring the oatmeal and water to boil for about five minutes. After the five minutes is up, strain the oatmeal, removing as much water as possible, and retain the water. Mix the talcum powder, pigment and one teaspoon of the oat water together. Divide this into three parts; add white tempera to two of the parts in differing amounts to make lighter shades of the base colour.


Roll the mixture into coils a size that’s appropriate for the size of your hands - probably about the thickness of a pencil or pen. Slice the coils into two to three inch pieces and then allow them to dry. Placing the pieces on paper towels or newspaper will help wick away excess moisture. They will generally be ready to use within 24 hours.


For the more serious artist, you can use pigment, kaolin or chalk, and Gum Arabic crystals. Add one ounce of the crystals to three quarts of distilled water. Make a paste with equal parts of the chalk and the pigment, and then add enough fluid to bind the two ingredients together. If you want pure white pastels, use only the white chalk and Gum Arabic. You can then add some of the white pastel to pigmented pastel to create a lighter tone.


You may want to take note of everything you do while making these cheap pastel recipes. Making even a slight change can alter the results you achieve. Taking notes will also help you repeat the same results at a future time if you so desire.


After you’ve made all of the colours and shades you want, store your new pastels in a box with foam to protect it. The pastels may be fragile so you’ll want to be careful with them. Of course, once you’ve learned how to make these cheap pastel recipes you may never buy pastels from an art supplies store again.