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Homemade Colorless Oil and Wax Pastel

May 5, 2015

I had good results with my last drawing using graphite and a colorless oil pastel bar from the Sennelier company. I decided I would make my own, since they can be hard to find sometimes. It is very easy to do.

waxdisk1

Materials used:
Bleached beeswax pellets, 1/2 ounce by weight
Food-grade mineral oil, 1/2 ounce by weight
Aluminum muffin cup as a mold
Digital kitchen scale for measuring
Electric coffee cup warmer to melt wax

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I measured the beeswax and added enough oil to reach 1 ounce, then set it on the warmer until the wax was completely melted, and gave it a little stir. I then placed the muffin cup in the freezer for about half an hour to solidify it, and gently popped it out of the cup. The disk is about 2 1/4 inches in diameter, and 3/4 inches thick. It reminds me of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

waxdisk4 waxdisk5

The disk is a little bit oily and soft, but solid. Wrapping it in wax paper makes it comfortable to hold, and helps keep it clean. I chose the muffin cup since it was a handy ready-made form. If you want to make a bar or stick shape, any cylindrical form will work wrapped with some stiff aluminum foil. The melted wax and oil is very liquid, so make sure you don’t have any leaks. I’m using food-safe mineral oil that was sold for tempering wooden butcher blocks. It’s the purest form of mineral oil I could find. Paraffin oil sold as “lamp oil” can also be used, just be careful to read the ingredients, as they often add other things that you won’t need (other oils or waxes.) My disk feels less sticky than the Sennelier bar I had used in my drawing. They may have added damar resin to it. That’s a common encaustic medium ingredient, used to make the wax harder, but it’s not required for oil pastels.

Of course, a true oil pastel would include pigment, which is very easy to add. I would recommend about twice as much pigment as medium. Melt the wax with the oil as above, add that to the pigment, mix it into a paste, and let it cool.

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