TIP: Colored pencil breaking? Time to start baking!

It is so frustrating to be "in the zone" working on a colored pencil painting and have the tip fall off the pencil. Then, you sharpen it only to have the tip fall off again - or worse - to remain in the sharpener clogging it. Sometimes that requires a screwdriver, a few expletives and an unwanted interruption in the work process. When colored pencils are dropped, the "lead" can break inside the pencil and no matter how many times you try sharpening them, the tip will continue to fall off. Well, I received a wonderful tip on resolving that problem from Audra Stevens, Product Information Specialist with Blick Art Materials. Here are her instructions:

What you will want to do is put your pencils on a cookie sheet - preferably lined with wax paper or a silicone pad - and put the pencils in the cold oven. Heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and let them bake at that temperature for 2-5 minutes.Then let the oven completely cool down to room temperature before you take them out. They may still be warm so be careful when handling them. Do not put them in the microwave because they have metal lettering on them and they will spark or catch fire.

She said that she has successfully used this method with Prismacolor pencils. I tried this method with a Dick Blick colored pencil. After 3 minutes, the pencil was still breaking, so I baked it again for 5 minutes and, VOILA!, it worked. Thanks, Audra, I love having that solution!
Dick Blick is my favorite online source of art materials and I became a loyal customer of theirs when I first started using colored pencils because they offered open stock Prismacolor pencils before many other art supply stores did. I have tried a lot of different brands of colored pencils and Prismacolor has remained my go-to brand. I prefer the way they feel and their wide range of color choices. When I have a fist full of colored pencils in my hand and I am switching according to colors, I can always tell by the feel of the "lead" against the paper when I have switched to another brand. Other pencils feel "scratchier" to me and don't have the smooth lay down that I like with the Prismacolors. However, there is a new contender on the market: Dick Blick is selling their own brand of colored pencils and I've got to admit that I can't tell the difference in the feel of these pencils. I will do a separate comaparison of these to the Prismacolors in a later blog, but if you work with colored pencils, I do recommend you give them a try!
I'm moving along with my new (and, hopefully, improved) version of the green jays and the wisteria and hope to finish with it today or tomorrow.
I've also successfully gotten some photos of Easter bluebirds that I've been feeding live meal worms and an American kestrel (sparrow hawk). Expect to see them in the bird series.
All the best,


  1. Very cool tip, Linda! I've been frustrated for years about this problem.

  2. I had the same problem with my soft pastel pencils. Someone at Blick recommended the electric charcoal sharpener (you have to stick the pencil in straight), and it works - no more broken tips.

  3. I regularly use an electric sharpener with my colored pencils but it was still breaking. The baking solved the problem. Thanks for the info about the pastel pencils, Jeannette.

  4. Got a tip from Splitcoast Stampers to drop in here; they say your baking solution works, so I am off to try it. Appreciate the tip greatly! Hope this works as well as they say...I have steam coming out of my ears over this problem!

  5. Good Luck, Ruby! This has worked really well for me. Sometimes after the pencil cools, I find I need to bake it a little more to get it to "melt back together". It is indeed one of the most frustrating things ever to see your pencil getting shorter and shorter as you sharpen it and it still keeps breaking. You see all that color you need on your paper going into the belly of the sharpener and your $$$$ dissolving into thin air. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Thank you~ This is GREAT information. I don't use my pencils often, so they don't hold up well and love to know there is a way to help them do so.

  7. You guys need to check the pencils periodically because some can split down the middle. Happened to me, luckily I don't used light orange.

  8. Beautiful tip, and thank you. I am just beginning this journey, and will bookmark your excellent website.
    Warm appreciation from Toronto Canada!


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