Tuesday, 15 November 2011


That's what I call them anyway: they hold a panel (like an easel) and have a built-in palette.  I started making them when I needed a 6x8 pochade box.  Eventually Maddy (who had bought me my first pochade box) got me a proper box for Christmas but not before I had made good use of my lashed-up version.  I wanted something really light that would take two boards and mount on a standard photo tripod.  This is it - still in regular use.  Of course it doesn't have anywhere to store stuff but sometimes that is actually an advantage.

Now I think of it, this is not the very first palette-easel I made.  Eight years ago we had a short stay in Barcelona.  I made a very crude palette-easel out of two pieces of marine ply, hinged using piano hinge and kept rigidly open by a piece of coat-hanger wire.  I used it for several small acrylic sketches when we weren't being Gaudi-ed to death or rambling the Ramblas.  I now keep it set up for very lightweight acrylics work - with formica sheet taped to the palette part:

My next effort was early this year.  I built it so that I could use up all those odd-sized panels that don't fit in pochade box slots.  With the two panel carriers of similar design I can return from painting with three, wet, odd-sized panels stored safely.

The impending Venice trip has set me off again on the quest for a very light, 'high-capacity' palette-easel: one that can take panels up to 14 inches high and 15 inches long.  Here is my latest effort with a 16x12" board in place.  I bought the marine ply in Lydney 37 years ago!  The worst technical problem is making the screw-set that bears on the top panel gripper.  The gripper slides in a channel at the back and has to be locked by pressure from the screw. 

I reckon I could do better but I think I am getting close to the limits of what is achievable with a schoolboy carpentry set!  The alternative is to buy a commercial pochade box - expensive but labour-saving and the good ones are very good indeed: the two that Maddy bought me 11 years ago are still going strong.


  1. These are great Tim! You should consider making your own business here as there is a high demand for those boxes in UK as they only seem to sell it in US (I particularly like what they call the "Open Box M"). Funnily enough I persuaded my father in law to build one of those for me and it turned out great - I was just about to do a post about this too on my blog this week. Hope you're well. Valérie

  2. Got here from Valeries Blog and I am really impressed by the design- Hope to have a practical view when I have the opportunity to paint alongside with you.