Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Hint for Cleaning Oil Pastels

I love the look of oil pastels, but haven't done much with them this year because our oil pastels are in such bad shape.  My budgets are tiny and I order a few new sets each year, but there are never enough to go around.  As time goes by the new ones find there way into the big box with the old ones and before long, the new ones look just as bad as the old ones. Nothing to me is as frustrating as watching a kid encounter that unexpected muddy streak in the peach or the pink. It's so demoralizing.  

Last night I discovered that olive oil works pretty well to restore old craypas by melting away the grime.  To start I set out a splash of olive oil in a little bowl or cup.  Each craypas got their tip dunked into the oil and then wiped off on a paper towel.  I tackled all the warm colors first, then went for the cool colors.  Not as easy as the chalk and rice trick, but effective. 
Next step, teach the kids how to do this task.
Okay so, I have my pastels sorted by color into a muffin tin right now, but am looking for a better system.  The original boxes are long gone.  So tell me.  How do you store your oil pastels?  


  1. I really love oil pastels, so they don't last too long around here. I think the biggest trick for oil pastels is to keep the colors separate. I keep the original boxes around for as long as possible, then have little cups for each color. If they are even stored together, they seem to become more of a mess. I've never used oil to clean them, nice idea. I usually just wipe them with a paper towel.

  2. I, too, keep the original boxes as long as possible. I like Pentels, which come in tray like boxes. The lids get torn but then I slide the trays into zip lock bags. My tables are named (with signs on little wood "table people" like "Picasso table", Khalo, etc - the artist's picture is on the table man) and I identify each zip lock with its table name. I do this because some tables seat more kids than others, so those tables need more sets of pastels. As far as cleaning, I've never thought too much about it. I have the kids just color a bit on the newspaper covering their table (if they need to) before marking on their good paper. That cleans of any extra color pretty well. As I think about it, though, I rarely have the kids use oil pastels on any project where pristine colors are necessary.

  3. My oil pastels are always a mess. The boxes last about 2 days and then no more.. I would like to try this (I'll try a cheaper oil 1st though - I don't need gourmet oil pastels!). But I still haven't gotten around to the chalk pastel rice trick so it may be a little while before I try this. Sigh...

  4. I love the big crayola ones! Yesterday my 5th graders destroyed the system. I have them put them back in the box (sorted at the end of class) They take the colors they need at the beginning of class because they are getting pretty independent. So when I discovered they threw the oil pastels in the box without sorting. . . I sent the box up to the classroom teacher and they reorganized them in their classroom (I can be a little crazy about clean up sometimes I guess.) But they brought me back an organized box of oil pastels and won't mess them up again anytime soon or two teachers will be on their case. Helps to work with great teachers!

  5. I don't really worry about the messy oil pastels! The kids just wipe them off if they need to. I store mine in the crayola classroom box too. I give one or two kids the job at the end of class to sort. Sometimes I just don't care and use the old ones in a small bin on the table and not worry about mixing for certain projects. Like my Impressionist landscapes where I want them to mix colors to create the painting effect. I'll post those on my blog soon!

  6. great suggestion....will try when I get to class tomorrow.....also love the idea bout keeping them separated.