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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How to Clean up a Pastel Mess

'The Edge of Darkness'             5x7         pastel            ©Karen Margulis
click to purchase $45

It was bound to happen.  That's what I get for having open pastel boxes sitting precariously on shelves and tables.  This morning started out great until I bumped into a table toppling a box of pastels.  It was like a slow motion movie....the box slowly fell turning upside down and landing on the carpet with a crash.

I had a big pastel mess on my hands and my students were due any minute. 

My lovely Pastel Mess...a shattered box of Diane Townsend Terrages

This isn't the first time I had a box of pastel dump onto the carpet. Once, my cat jumped up on my full Heilman box tipping it upside down....now that was a multicolored mess!  So I have experience cleaning pastel out of the rug.  Let me share what works for me in case you ever have to deal with a mess like this.

Vacuum First!

The most important thing to remember is that you want to VACUUM FIRST.  I pick up the broken pieces of pastel and any sizable chunks. (I can reconstitute them later)  Next I use the hose attachment and vacuum up the tiny pieces as well as the dust. I stick the hose down on the carpet so I can suction up every bit of dust possible.


Our first instinct is to grab a wipe of wet paper towel to wipe up the mess. What this does is liquify the pastel making it into paint. It also spreads out and makes a wet colored stain. This wet blob is much harder to remove.  But if you vacuum first you get most of the pastel removed.

After vacuuming I am left with a lightly colored stain

The next step is to remove the remaining stain...which is much lighter than if we had wet it down.  I use Resolve spray carpet cleaner with Oxy action. I used the pet stain formula and it worked like a charm. I sprayed the stain liberally with the spray and let it work for a few minutes. I then used an old towel to blot up the stain.  I am happy to report that the entire stain came out completely!

The newly clean carpet...Resolve to the rescue!
I tried the same method on a pastel stain made by an intense dark red pastel. I thought for sure that it was a permanent stain.  The Resolve worked miracles and removed the stain!

How do you clean up pastel messes? I'd love to hear your tips!

Today's Painting:
A raven for Halloween!  5x7 pastel on LaCarte paper.


Carol Hopper said...

Pastel mess….awful job of clean up and an expensive mess besides. But the bird I love, especially all the colors reflected in its feathers.

robertsloan2art said...

The last pastel mess like that I had was when I was living with my daughter in Kansas. I picked up as much as I could, she vacuumed and washed up, a smear of royal blue remained in the cheap beige carpet. Part of that was that I didn't notice it until after someone stepped on a piece of it and ground it in. I was more worried about my cat getting loose pigment in his fur and washing it off by tongue. Once wetted and scrubbed in as a paint-streak he didn't.

But I do get very paranoid about my pastels! I don't have the body energy to do massive cleaning like that any more, so I tend to be more careful than most people about not having any kind of spills.

robertsloan2art said...

If your carpet was ugly, there's always scrubbing it in with water, then thin acrylic paint till it's like ink and spray several colors around in interesting patterns to make it look like you intended that.

If this room wasn't a rental I'd do that anyway to liven up the ugly beige carpet with its pulled threads, worn spots and other, fainter stains from less dramatic spills over the decades.

robertsloan2art said...

By the way, acrylic paint thinned like ink will dye t-shirts and other fabric brighter, truer to color and less fading than any actual fabric dyes I ever tried. Trick that I learned from a cool friend in New Orleans who did homemade tie-dye in Pthalo Green and other brilliant colors.

Billy said...

Great Tips. After pastel painting we need to clean pastels to avoid spoilage and breakage. This free art lesson by professional artist Dick Ensing demonstrating how to clean your pastels. http://www.jerrysartarama.com/art-lessons/Artists/Dick-Ensing/Dick-Ensing-Cleaning-Your-Pastels.html I think you should add this link to the blog. :)