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Working With Oil Pastels

May 12, 2009

Many people, like myself, first started parchment crafting with Pergamano’s Starter kit. They include a dorso crayon.  A dorso crayon is an oil pastel. It can be spread over the entire page or in smaller areas, with a spreading medium. Some of these are: Pergamano’s Dorso oil, white spirit (in the UK), naptha (in europe), lighter fluid, Turpenoid, or an essential oil (which gives the project a lovely scent), are some of the more common spreading mediums. Depending on what the project is often determines which spreading medium I use. For instance, if I’m making a card or object for someone else, or to be displayed I will generally use a lightly scented essential oil or the natural turpenoid which has a light citrusy scent.

Now, I don’t always use the Pergamano brand dorso’s. I also use some by Gallery. My favorites are the Gallery metallic oil pastels.There are numerous companies that manufacture oil pastels. It comes down to personal preference, and sometimes availability.

Spreading the oil pastels can sometimes be tricky, because the crayon can leave streaks across the paper, which you can see. That takes away from the finished product. Good spreading of the oil pastel comes from the friction of the actual spreading combined with the spreading medium. I hope that was clearer than mud.

When coloring a full sheet of parchment paper, make sure it is tacked down well to a scratch paper (to save your table from the spreading medium and the oil pastel color). Use a cotton ball or a piece of paper towel with a little spreading medium to spread the  oil pastel. First work in large circles, then side to side then up and down. You will see a lot of the oil pastel  come off onto your cotton ball/paper towel, but that is okay.

When working on smaller areas, you may want to spread just a tiny, tiny bit of spreading medium on the area using a cotton swab, or a bamboo skewer with a tiny bit of cotton around the tip, or wrap a piece of paper towel so that it is pointed like a tortillion. Once you do that, spread some of the oil pastel onto the cotton swab (cotton tipped skewer/paper towel) and then spread that onto the area to be dorso’d.

Here is a quick video that I hope will make this all clearer for you.

When spread well, the oil pastels gives a lovely soft coloring to the parchment.


  1. May 14, 2009 11:03 am

    Thanks a lot for sharing the technique. Its a lot of help for beginners like me.

  2. cepet permalink
    May 14, 2009 12:01 pm

    You’re welcome, Madhavi. Now that real life has somewhat settled down for me, I’m trying hard to pay more attention to the blog. So, please stay-tuned for new posts and more techniques.


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