Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A New Drawing Easel

Yesterday was spent cutting mats, not my favorite thing to do, and getting work ready to ship off to a show in Houston. (more about this later) While the framing and matting of the work is going on, I thought I'd share with you a new easel I made recently.

What I had was a make-shift platform that I had been using for the last three years! It's so laughable! It was made out of styrofoam blocks, using the velcro ties that are wrapped around lettuce. The board was from the backing of a used watercolor block. Talk about recycling!! But it worked, or at least used to work!

Old drawing/easel.

After all this time, it started to slip. If I put any weight on it, the whole thing would collapse. Time for something new! As an artist of miniatures, I prefer to work at an angle, rather than upright. There really weren't any easels small enough to fit on my workspace under the magnifier and lights that I use. Drawing boards are nice but looked too large for my space and the really nice ones were expensive. Since the old one worked great, I decided to use it as my design.

I found most of my materials at the craft store, the velcro at the office supply, and then some masonite sheets from Dick Blick. I only had to make one cut on a piece of bass wood, and used scissors on the velcro. The wood glue and C clamps I had on hand.

List of materials: A wooden box with lid, (mine was called a Memory Box and I only used the lid) 5.99, two pieces of lightweight Basswood, 2" x 4" x 12", 14.99, and 1/2" x 1/2"x 24", 2.97 , Velcro and Glue.

I used the lid to the box as the base. The thin strip, 1/2" x 1/2" x 24" needed to be cut to fit on the base. It would be the stop for the board.

Next I glued it to the bottom of the base. I used wood glue and clamped it on with C-clamps to secure it. I used the rest of the strip on top of it all to protect the wood from indentation.

Here I used a wooden paddle to protect the underside of the base from the C-clamps.

The rocks were to hold it in place on the edge until the glue was dried. Once it was set, I cut the velcro in strips and put them on the base and the bottom of the 2" x 4" x 12" back support.

Here's a side view of the finished drawing easel/board.

Here's the front finished view.

It's working great! The only thing I've had a problem with, is when I packed it up to take to the hotel on the day of our 103 degree heat wave, one of the center strips of velcro pulled off the wood. It was easily put back in place and has not come off since. It could have just been the heat that weakened the glue. If it continues to be a problem, it can be easily remedied with gluing it back down. Another minor change I would make is to use a half round rather than square strip for the stop. It would be a bit easier on the wrist when it rests on the surface.

It was very inexpensive, quick and fun to make. It also travels very well! I'm very pleased with it.


Miniature Art by Karen Hull said...

Good for you, Barbara - looks like a fabulous easel!!!

Barbara A. Freeman said...

Hi Karen, Thanks for stopping by. Yes, the best part was it was a quick and easy solution. Not costing much was a big plus too!

Mona said...

Barbara, this is a very clever solution, and I like that it's cheap, even the styrofoam idea is great! I read that Duane Keiser used a cigar box for his small daily paintings too.

I might try this idea myself, so thanks for sharing how you did it.

DEB said...

Great engineering! Thanks for sharing!

Barbara A. Freeman said...

Thanks Mona and Deb. As you can guess, I save everything that looks like it might be useful. If you do make something, you'll have to share Mona. : )

Carol Andre' said...

I enjoyed your "how-to" very much. It brought back memories of when I made mine. I think my easel must be about the same size as yours by looking a pencils to compare size, etc. Mine was so inexpensive too. Maybe I should post my "how-to" on my blog too- if I still have the photos. Not sure I do, but it was fun, easy, and inexpensive.
I don't need a stop to hold my paintings- I use the non-slip stuff you can get at hardware stores, etc. for $1 for a whole roll. It would work for you I think and you could remove the strip that bothers your arm.

Barbara A. Freeman said...

Hi Carol, I remember you posting your easel, good idea about the non slip stuff. Remember me telling you how you wouldn't believe what I was using! Well, it's in the bin now! I got tired of the white bits of the styrofoam getting on my clothes!