Pastels can be a dry or wet media in the form of a stick or pan, like Pan Pastel consisting of pure powdered pigment and a binder. The pigments used in pastels are the same as those used to produce all coloured art media, including oil paints.
Pastel sticks or crayons consist of pure powdered pigment combined with a binder. The exact composition and characteristics of an individual pastel stick depends on the type of pastel and the type and amount of binder used. It also varies by individual manufacturered "Pastels, including Oil pastel, wax pastel, Charcoal, Pencil, Conté, Sanguine, or any dry media".
Dry pastels have historically used binders such as gum arabic and gum tragacanth. Methyl cellulose introduced in the twentieth century. Often a chalk or gypsum component is present and white or back pigments are added to create tints and shades.
Available in varying degrees of hardness, the softer varieties being wrapped in paper. Some pastel brands use pumice in the binder to abrade the paper and create more tooth.
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