As a workshop teacher, the biggest problem I have had is getting my pastels to my workshop location without breaking my back or limiting what I can bring with me. I have an excellent and HUGE pastel box made of solid wood and it's gorgeous. But for teaching on the road, it weighs a ton and is a killer to haul up steps or for long distances. Further, many of my students come to class with few supplies or with limited color choices. With pastel, that can be frustrating so I often share my pastels. Because of that, I like to take most of my collection with me. For a few years I was limited to driving to my workshop events because of the sheer number of pastels I bring. I like driving but sometimes it's just so much more practical to fly. HOW DO YOU FLY WITH PASTELS? I know some artists do it but they always have a limited set of pastels and horror stories to go with their travel stories. I like sharing with students and I think it's important to introduce different brands so I bring as many pastels as I can with me.
I got to thinking, would there be any way I could ship my pastels ahead of me to a workshop? The answer is YES! The photo below is a large chunk of what I take to workshops. Note each box contains basically one hue arranged by value. These boxes have lids that I fasten with strong large rubber bands. I then put all the boxes in one or two shipping boxes and send my little friends (insured) to my workshop location a day or two in advance of my arrival. NO BREAKAGE! NO PROBLEMS! Sure, there are things that could go wrong, but at least it offers me the option of flying and still having a nice collection of pastels to share.
Great pastel protection
Easy to ship (inside another box with some bubble wrap)
Easy to make
One could fit in a suitcase or checked baggage
Stackable and packable
So, here is what I did:
Large strong rubber bands-I got mine at The Container Store in town
Premium Gift Boxes-I purchased high quality boxes from The Container Store, the 15 X 9.5 X 2(h) premium white gift boxes. These are surprisingly rugged boxes (haven't had to replace one yet). They have a glossy finish and are reasonably priced at $4.99 each. They come in other sizes and colors as well.
1" Memory Foam Mattress Topper-This was a bit difficult to find but I ended up lucking out at Overstock.com and found a 1-Inch Antimicrobial Memory Foam Mattress Topper for $39.00. I got the Twin XL size and I believe I was able to complete 10 boxes with one topper.
1. I unwrapped my mattress topper and left it out overnight. They come tightly packed so you have to let them expand for a few hours before attempting to cut them to size.
2. I placed one of the boxes at the corner of the mattress topper and traced the edges I needed to cut using the marker.
3. I cut the foam to size, (2) two pieces for each box. The foam cuts like butter with kitchen scissors. I was amazed. See the photo below which has a piece of foam on the bottom half of the box.
4. With foam on the bottom you can then begin placing your pastels on top of the foam. When you're finished, place a second piece of foam on the top and rubber band together! You'll notice there is just enough room to close the box so it's important to use the rubber bands to make sure the lid stays on. When I ship I put 4 rubber bands on each box, two horizontally and two vertically just to be safe.
5. I labeled my boxes by hue. I recommend labeling of some kind so you don't have to open the box to figure out what's in it!
6. This kind of storage system is easy to work out of so I just plop the boxes on a table at home. They are really easy to store. They would also be great for small quantities of pastels. Maybe you only need one for that plein air paint out! Each box holds about 80 Unison sized pastels. Isn't that amazing?
Let me know if you try this! I'd love to hear from you. This way of packing has saved more grief than I can put into words. I hope it works for you too!
24 X 18
Pastel on Board
Pastel artists know that buying pastels can be addictive. There are so many wonderful brands in a variety of shapes and sizes. My collection contains something from almost every brand available. The sticks themselves are so beautiful and colorful that they often make it into my paintings. In this particular painting the pastels are the stars of the show. Perhaps that's why this painting appealed to the manufacturer of the paper I use and it now the image appears on all of their new packaging!
Uart Premium Sanded Pastel Paper is one of my favorite surfaces for pastel painting. The PH neutral/Acid free surface is perfectly consistent across the 7 available grades. It handles an impressive number of layers of pastel and has a nice creamy neutral color.
Welcome! I'm so glad you are here and I hope you find some of the information I have shared helpful.
Interested in taking a workshop? Click here for a listing of where I am heading and join me for the fun!