Author: Cori_Nicholls, Contributing Editor
|After much trial and error this summer, trying to find a workable solution for taking my pastels into the great outdoors, I finally decided that I needed to build a sort of "all-in-one" solution. I had looked at the ready-made pochade boxes, but none of them really got me excited. I knew the time was right to design something inexpensive and workable that would fit my needs.
Before we get into the bulk of the creation of this box, I'd like to share exactly what my needs were (and a few of the stories that got me to that need).
Need #1: Security
There is no disputing this fact - pastels are expensive. On one of my painting trips this summer, I took my large cassatt-style box out with all of my colours in it. I didn't need all of those colours, but I wanted to test drive this box. As I was packing up for the day, I put the lids onto each side of the box and started to close it. Much to my dismay, the contents shifted and dislodged the lid on one side and I watched in horror as my pastels slid from the box (in slow motion, of course) and crashed into the dirt. Fortunately, there was only one or two casualties, but it was a wakeup call - I needed to know that my pastels would not be doing that again!
Need #2 - Small Size
I enjoy camping and there is nothing I would love more than to be able to capture, in a painting, some of the natural beauty I experience. We have a sedan that usually gets packed to the gills with our tent, cooler, bins of camping supplies, sleeping bags, dog...well, you get the idea. There is not usually much room for the addition of my painting gear (though I still stuff it in there as my boyfriend groans about it). I needed something that I could toss into the car and it would not take up a ton of space. Something I could even leave it in the car at all times, in case I wanted to paint on the spur of the moment anytime/anywhere.
Need #3 - Fast, Cheap and Easy
I don't know about the rest of you, but I would rather spend my money on my pastels, instead of the box I keep them in. If I can make something, I will. The downside to that, is that I don't own a woodwork shop and likely won't own one in the future either. I want to be able to build what I want on my tiny little work counter. I don't want to spend 10 days building a box I may only use one time (if it turns out I don't like it after all). And I want to be able to start using it the same day I build it (or the next day - if I REALLY need to wait for that stain to dry).
Having identified my needs, I headed to my local craft store to scour for supplies. In the woodworking section, I found an unfinished cigar box that was about the right depth to use with pastels. The lid of the box had a recessed section that would fit a small drawing board. The box itself was about 8 inches square so it would be for painting smaller works.
|Other supplies you may wish to use (completely optional - you should customize your box so it works best for you):
Sketches for this Box
Before I started, I sat down with my little sketchbook and sketched out what I planned to do. The box we will be creating is illustrated in the sketches below.
As you can see, the box has a built-in drawing board, a section for the pastels and a section for a few small accessories.
Using small screws, attach the chain (on the inside of the box) to hold the box at close to a 90 degree angle. You should drill small pilot holes for these screws so that you do not risk splitting the wood of the box.
This chain will keep the box lid vertical as you work.
Adding the T-Nut
If you have decided that you want to be able to use your box with a camera tripod, you should install the t-nut at this point. I decided to not do this, because I plan to use my box on my lap. Installation is really easy to do. Measure the box and find the exact centre. Then drill a hole in that spot through the bottom of the box. If the bottom of your cigar box is really thin, you may need to add a washer or another piece of wood to make up for the length of the t-nut. You chould also secure the nut with some glue for added stability.
I bought some really thin plywood at michaels that was a 12 inch square (the smallest size they had). I trimmed it down to about 7.5 inches square so it would fit into the box and still clear the chain.
This board will act as both a lid to the pastel box and as a drawing board while you paint.