I have a quiet friend. A shiny, little helper made from astronaut-worthy stuff that has saved my life and the lives of many pastel sticks….

Like most pastellists I work at an easel with the top of the painting tipped forward about 15 degrees so the dust from the scraping of pastel sticks will fall in front of the painting and not rain down on the front of the just-completed (read many hours of struggle) face of a portrait. I use a lot of “gritted” surfaces (think soft sandpaper) and although this surface is wonderful for keeping strokes of pastel in its proper place, it can create a lot of dust from the “drag” of these wonderful colors.


Aluminum Foil was born in 1910 in Switzerland and was soon wrapping Toblerone chocolate bars by 1911. (I should have known I would love something with a chocolate history.) It is great for catching dust, sure, but the absolute best part is how my friend will catch my treasured pastel sticks when I drop them from my over-zealous dabbing. Oh, how happy I am to have it catch my pastels! Every pastellist knows how one dropped stick can cost between $4 – $20 a drop. (yep) I say “saved my life” because if you are an artist working in pastel, you know your heart can stop when you drop a stick.


So, Aluminum Foil saves me from having a heart attack each day at work. In my workshops, I have heard the snap and fall of a doomed stick, then the crunch of it hitting the floor. There is a collective sigh of sorrow across the room and sympathy for the stricken artist. (who at this point is swearing profusely) Aluminum foil could have been there! Let it help!!!


My Aluminum Foil is so travel–friendly too. Just a large folded-up square will pack up neatly and save the lives of many pastel sticks and many distant floors. I am picky about my Aluminum Foil, and only the best will do. I am afraid I am going to name-drop and say that I only use heavy-duty Reynolds- because I am worth it.

Then, when the workday is done, my “tray” of dust can easily be wadded up and thrown away, saving me cleaning time and congestion of my lungs.

Thank you Aluminum Foil…..sniff……

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