My teenage son has been studying pastels these past few months and is getting rather good at it. We got him an inexpensive set of half sticks to start out with and recently he asked for a pastel storage box.
We figured that this box of SoHo Urban Artist Soft Pastel Half Stick Set of 120 would give him a good range of colors to start with and if he didn’t like the feel of them, he could add other brands as he went. So far they have been fine. The box comes with a foam like separator which keeps all of the sticks protected from breakage.
It seems that new pastel students quickly realize that you don’t want to use the boxes that the pastels come in. All of those individual compartments are fine for shipping the pastels but they are a pain to use in practice. Plus most seasoned pastel painters like to organize their collection of pastels by color and hue.
You could get a set like this that comes with a nice wooden box but again they are all lined up individually a when you are working on a pastel you don’t want to be slowed down with putting the colors back in “their spot” and you don’t want to be searching around for color.
I started to look around online and nearly choked. Some of these boxes cost between $120 and $300! These are beautifully designed and made works of art in themselves but obviously made for the wealthy retired artist, well-heeled hobbyist or the successful artist. Not exactly a beginner item. Pastel sticks and other supplies themselves cost a lot of money and $300 would go a long way to buying more of them. When starting out in any craft, art, or hobby, more supplies is typically more important than more expensive equipment.
Other options are things like these. Which are intended more for the studio:
Or these holders that treat each pastel as a precious object like this foam lined tray with individual sections.
But what we were looking for was something more like this – open sections where the colors of the sticks, or half sticks or even pieces could be arranged by hue. I found a lot of great examples on Pinterest.
Similar boxes with the pastels included can be found on Amazon starting at around $300 to $1,200.
A Great Do It Yourself Project – Make your own pastel storage box
A simple box with dividers and a lid is all you really need to get started, so its the perfect do it yourself on the cheap project. You just have to figure out the size of the box you need. Depth is important because the pastels are small and you don’t want them moving around much.
Originally I though we could buy two of these cheap wooden 12 x 12 shadow boxes and then add some hardware like a piano hinge and some latches. So I ordered some – big mistake. They were too deep and the had a frame around the outside that needed to be cut away. Oh well.
Better off heading out to the store. I had seen some cheap pastel storage boxes made from old cigar boxes which according to those who are in the know, can be purchased from a tobacconists for less then $10. I didn’t have any stores like that in my area but I did have a 50 percent off coupon fro Joan Fabrics so I picked up two unfinished cigar boxes for $4 a piece.
They have some potential but then I went to Walmart and spotted a cheap drawing kit that came in a wooden box for only $20 (plus my son could always use the pencils and stuff that came in the box). I liked the size of the pencil box better (it was bigger with two sides the same depth) and the clasp is more secure. So now I have two options for making pastel and other art supply boxes.
Each of the boxes is about an inch deep so I picked up about 10 feet of 3/4 inch trim from Home Depot. I’ll use this to make the divides inside the boxes. I plan to glue this down. It will give me about a quarter of an inch on the top of each side to come up with some kind of “lid”. The expense pastel boxes have a sheet of plastic that lays on top of the pastels and then some kind of sliding clasp that secures the lid.
I haven’t figured out this part yet. I have to figure the name of the fixture so I can start shopping for some. In the mean time I picked up some large rubber bands which will be used to secure the lids. I also plan to cut out some foam to cushion the pastels.
Some other ideas for pastel boxes
This small one is made from a wine box:
Other organizers like those made for flatware or silverware can be used. An old silverware box might make a great project.
Old printers drawers could be used.