I’m so in love with Pan Pastels.

I haven’t been using them for a long time but I can tell you, I don’t know how I survived without them!

Let’s talk about Pan Pastels and why I love them so much.  I’ve only carried out a few experiments but I’m sure there are numerous other reasons why people love to use this product in their polymer pieces.

I don’t think there’s any need to go into the history or the back story of why this product was created.  Pan Pastel has it’s own website where you can find all sorts of interesting information.There is a vibrant colour chart (it looks so luscious) and a great range of “how to’s, tips and tricks.  They also sell a range of sponges, applicators etc.

The website itself is very inspirational.

So why do I love this product?

A Little Goes A Long Way

Each Pan Pastel colour is loaded with the finest quality artists’ pigments.  This means they’re able to produce a product with incredible concentrated colours.  You only need the smallest amount – my suggestion would be to build up colour as you go.  Pan Pastels have a luscious, creamy finish to them when on the surface of polymer clay.

Check this out:

In the first pic you’ll see I’ve swiped the applicator over a stick pastel and rubbed onto some polymer clay.  I used the same pressure and swiped the applicator over the Pan Pastel and you can clearly see the difference.  The colour is vibrant and strong – not at all wishy washy and this was one little swipe.

The colours are so intense you can even get a great coverage on scrap clay as in the pics above.  You’ll note I’ve again used Pan Pastel and stick pastel for comparison.

Create Colour Patterns

The range of applicators and sponges available to purchase with Pan Pastels is huge and I had a little play around with creating different looks on my clay by using different sponges etc and using them in various ways.

In the images above you’ll see I’ve applied a pale blue to some polymer clay and graduated the colour down the length of the clay.  This was easily achieved by simply blending the colour downwards.  I picked up some purple on my applicator brush and you can see where I’ve swiped that across my clay.  Again this was just one application.  I then got some isoproply alcohol and a cotton bud and was able to easily remove some of the Pan Pastel colour leaving my clay a very bright white (it was white to begin with). The final image shows a sponge which has been double loaded with colour (like you would double load a paintbrush for One Stroke Painting).  This was then brushed over a stencil firmly attached to the clay.  This is only the tip of the iceberg as far as fancy effects with sponges and applicators go.

The Durability of Pan Pastels on Polymer Clay

This question was actually asked in one of the facebook groups and you know me…I like to test things so thought I would give this a quick try.  These are my instructions:

  • Create a silks creened sheet of polymer clay using Pan Pastel colour then cover with baking paper and burnished incredibly well.
  • Cut the piece of clay in half and cure.
  • Sand one half of the clay – the bottom sheet has been sanded.

You can see it’s made a difference but I really gave this a good sanding.  In saying all this, I would still highly recommend sealing this product for durability.  I would also make sure to burnish veneers or flat pieces well which have had Pan Pastels on the surface.  Creating a 3 dimensional object is a different story and the only suggestion I have here is to be very light handed and brush off any excess Pan Pastel so they don’t smudge your clay surface.

Building Up Colour and Other Effects

A fun thing to do with Pan Pastels is to build up the colour on your clay and use as a feature under a variety of other techniques.  Let me tell you what I mean:

Colour your clay with Pan Pastel and stencil over.

Silkscreen over the top of a sheet of clay coloured with Pan Pastel.

Colour your clay with Pan Pastel and add painted highlights.

I could go on but I’ll let you come up with a few of your own.

Pan Pastels also work beautifully with silkscreens using the sponge applicator.  If you’re using ultra fine mesh you’ll need to be careful not to clog your screen and make sure you use a DRY screen when using any sort of powder.

Some people say they’re expensive but I think they’re great value.  I’ve had my Pan Pastels for a few years now and they’ve gone to numerous workshops with me and they have plenty more years ahead of them yet.  So I guess the initial cost may be high but you won’t have to replace them for a very long time.  Well worth it in my opinion.

You know that was about the end of my experimenting day but I continue to use Pan Pastels on a regular basis and love them more and more each time.





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Beth Seaward
4 years ago

I bought almost every color when they first came on the market then added the dark shades later. I LOVE them! They blend so nicely and I’ve worn several necklaces for years without even sealing them! The pan levels still look almost unused–these are a great value and great quality.

The Real Karen
The Real Karen
4 years ago

Debbie, thanks for this review of Pan Pastels. I, like many others, have lusted after them but thought them cost prohibitive. Your overview of their basic properties and subsequent examples of ways to manipulate that luscious color have me sold.

Nan Smith
Nan Smith
4 years ago

Thanks so much Debbie. I totally agree with everything you say about this wonderful product. I have had mine for years and love them! Especially the metallics. I rarely use anything else for metallic colours. The colours are so rich and luscious and they are a dream to apply. My only issue with them is more related to my messy work area and messy work habits. I have found, unfortunately, that the plastic used for the containers of Pan Pastels is the kind that doesn’t play well with polymer clay. So, if you get tiny bits of polymer clay on… Read more »

Debbie Crothers
Debbie Crothers
4 years ago
Reply to  Nan Smith

oh Nan, I’m sure your messy work habits aren’t that bad. Interesting to know about the plastic containers – I’m sure someone else will probably relate to that. I always keep mine in their pallette with the lid on so that perhaps keeps them a little safe. Thanks for the info though – excellent.