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View Full Version : Help! Advice needed re: Heilmann box size


Anne-Marie
07-04-2010, 03:58 PM
Hi everyone!

I went ahead and ordered a Heilmann box. I got the "back pack" size, which is the smallest.

I had read an article by Maggie Price about what she uses/how she packs for vacations, etc. and I think I just mis-remembered what she wrote. I thought she had used the back pack size Heilmann, but when I went back to the article, I realized she mentioned a "back pack" but not a "back pack size" Heilmann box.

The back pack size Heilmann box is tiny. The dimensions are clearly stated on the web site; I should have measured it out on a piece of paper to visualize it.

It is, however, light: a little more than 3 pounds. With pastels in it, Mrs. Heilmann told me it will be twice that, about 6 pounds. Perfectly portable.

If I return it for the "original size" box, that is around 6 pounds, if memory serves. Presumably when packed with pastels, it will be twice that, or 12 pounds.

That seems heavy.

I have a heavy laptop, chosen for performance over lightness. It is 8 pounds. With the pack and the humungous cord (it can't go on battery power long--again, a performance-over-portability and battery life issue) it is probably around 12 pounds. I did walk to a cafe once with it but truthfully it was too heavy to enjoy the walk. I was on a medical leave of absence from work two years in a row about 5 years ago because of back trouble. I avoided surgery and have largely rehabilitated my back by losing weight and doing physical therapy exercises almost every day, and by making life style changes, i.e. changes to how I sleep, do housework, and even brush my teeth (yes! they teach you to re-think everything!) I also rarely carry anything over a few pounds unless necessary.

My best friend and my husband vote for the tiny Heilmann box for me. I know I probably SHOULD go with it, but golly, it's so small, so small . . . .

Does anyone else have the back pack Heilmann? Or have any words of wisdom or advice?

PS I will be using the box to go to weekly pastel classes, as well as doing some plein air work and for a week long trip to Turkey in the fall, and a three week trip next year . . .

Lynndidj
07-04-2010, 04:20 PM
Anne-Marie:

I have the medium Heilman. Yes, it is heavy when it is full of pastels. I also have a bad back. If I were to travel internationally, I think I would have to use a backpack size Heilman. I do also have the 24" aluminum easel from Heilman that fits into the box. It is not perfect, but it does work quite well and I will take it when I go on trips as it is very light weight. I also hate to be on location and not have the pastels I need. So, when I am in the States, I take the medium Heilman - have my husband carry it through the airport :-) or put it on a rolling suitcase. I never check it - always take it through Security with a label on it for TSA and help them open it.

My best advice for you would be to use the backpack Heilman, and then if there are some pastels you absolutely have to have that won't fit, take them in another box (like a Ludwig box or a Unison box). That won't add much weight or take up much room. Make sure you break your pastels into halves (if they are Ludwig size) or thirds (if they are Mount Vision or Girault size) so you can fit as many colors as possible.

Hope this helps!

Lynn

Anne-Marie
07-04-2010, 05:44 PM
Dear Lynn--

Thank you so much for the reality check. I was irrationally hoping against hope that you would say, "I have the medium Heilman and actually it's not that heavy at all!" It helps to read your honest assessment.

Okay. I'm going to stay with the backpack size. I've worked too hard and have come too far in terms of my back to mess it up now. And you're right: I can just bring another set of Unisons or whatever. The Unisons, Mount Visions, and the Terry Ludwigs all have come in very sturdy boxes with lots of padding.

I love rollers, of course, but there is also the getting it in and out of the car, going up stairs, etc. I think the place where I take pastel lessons was pre-ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and thus there isn't an elevator. The lessons are on the second floor.

I got the 24" aluminum easel as well. I'm delighted with it. It's super light-weight. With a lightweight tripod and a camp chair that is not even a pound, and a little baggie of supplies like finger cots and erasers and tortillons, etc., I am currently set up for an extremely light weight plein air load, which means I can head off independently with no worries.

This is making me feel better. Thank you for this!

adventureartist
07-04-2010, 06:03 PM
I use the backpack size every day, it's just right for in and out of the car, into the pack, airport security, etc. I pack my tripod and easel on the outside of my pack with straps. Any other colors I wish to take I use the dakota boxes, they are even lighter, and have a nice handle. The small one of that brand works great if I am not going too far from the car and you can get a lot of pastels in them, of course half sticks.
At first it is tempting to attempt to carry LOTS of colors, but it really is best to try to do with less when traveling, so try to plan ahead for the areas you are going to and take only what you will need. I bought the Great American half stick set, and forced myself to only take that out for a while, and with time discovered that less is more. All the rest can stay in the studio!:D
I also switched to an apple laptop, it's much lighter, does all the work of my heavier HP and more and I don't take it on excursions out of doors, just on trips.

artist_pw
07-04-2010, 07:13 PM
Hi:

We all have been seeming to struggle with more extensive travelling and having to fly to a location. I found the smallest, lightest collapsible luggage cart in a Staples close to Fenway in Boston about a month ago - it's from Samsonite, but I can't find a model number on it - it has a Chinese patent on it - ZL 99 2 43500 5, and Taiwan 165896, and patent pending for the US. I think it weighs about 1.5 lbs, and can support up to 150 lbs. It was about $24 or so.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/04-Jul-2010/28377-lc.jpg

I thought if I would post the photo and you were interested in something like this, it might be easier to find with this information, because I can't find it online anywhere. I like it because I can attach this to my laptop bag easily, or fold it up and store it when I need to, or attach it to something else, like a box of pastels.

You might also try to get a different powercord for your laptop - I know I have gotten several of these and most of them are a lot more travel friendly than any others that come with the laptops. Microcenter has many of these if you want to check those out.

I've had it pretty lucky because when I travel, I can usually find a Fedex or UPS to send back any overflow to keep what I have to physically haul around more manageable on return trips. I am so glad I have started a regular exercise routine with a trikke because that has really seemed to help me with being able to physically manage the strain of travel.

I would highly recommend trying to combine a watercolor underpainting with pastels. That way you can use maybe an enhanced travel set of watercolors, with maybe the smallest group of pastels.

The best of luck to you on your travels, and I truly hope it goes well.

Anne-Marie
07-04-2010, 07:37 PM
Fantastic information and advice! Thank you both!

Drusilla: I'm glad that you like your backpack-sized box; that is heartening. It is evident more and more of the necessity of breaking my pastels (I'm gearing up for it! Really!) and also being selective about which ones to bring with you. I think I was so pastel-deprived for so long, that now that I am building a tidy little collection, I am really enjoying having a variety of colors at my disposal.

As for the Apple, I was an Apple devotee since the early 90's. My personal computers (as opposed to the computers I have used at work) have always been a Mac up until this winter. Unfortunately, as I am using AutoCAD now, I had to make the switch, as there isn't a Mac version for AutoCAD. And since AC is such such a hog for resources (requiring loads of memory, a fast processor and video card, ect.) it was worth it to get something powerful but portable enough to go room-to-room within my home. I never really meant to take it outside, but that would have been a nice-to-have.

Paula:

Wow, GREAT pix and thanks for the info. I will definitely look for that. A luggage cart under 2 pounds! That's fastastic!

I do like watercolors--just on their own, have not tried them for underpainting yet--so I will take your advice. I have a small collection from Daniel Smith and can easily pick and choose a dozen or so shades that will go the distance. Thanks for the suggestion!

I'm glad that your exercise routine is helping you manage travelling better. One can't underestimate the benefits of exercise in increasing not only fitness but also one's standard of life. Need to remind myself of this because I really want to step up my own stamina and fitness.

Thanks again for your responses!

artist_pw
07-04-2010, 08:03 PM
Hi:

No problem - that carving mechanism is so much fun and doesn't seem like exercise at all to me. You just would not believe how many muscle groups it works - I don't think really any group is left out, but I think especially, my arms, abs and legs have really benefited. Also, I think for calorie burning, I've read it can be much better than running - of course it depends on your weight, but I've read when you're really pushing it, you can burn like 1,000 cal per hour, and even at an easier pace, it's like 650 cal.

I don't have an actual trikke - I got a similar but less expensive one from carvingtrike.com through Ebay. It's got 8 inch poly wheels, and was about $145, and similar to the Trikke T8, but a lot less pricey.

Like with any new exercise, you can get a little bit sore from using it the first few times, and you need to find your 'sweet spot' when you get your center of balance in the right spot for riding, but it is great for all of those little muscles that help you keep balanced, and a really great low impact workout, but again, it is such a blast, I would do it even if it didn't have those other benefits.

helenh
07-05-2010, 08:31 AM
I have the backpack size Heilman, and it is the perfect size for me. Anything bigger I would find to be too heavy once it's loaded. I break all my pastels into halves or even thirds, so I can fit lots of them in the case. It's perfect for travel. If I'm going to a class I may take an auxiliary set with me, but it usually isn't necessary.

Studio-1-F
07-05-2010, 02:17 PM
Hi everyone! I went ahead and ordered a Heilmann box. I got the "back pack" size, which is the smallest.
Good choice! Very useful size. I have both the backpack size and the medium size (the "original sized") Heilman boxes.

The back pack size Heilmann box is tiny.
I disagree. I would not describe it as "tiny". It is a perfectly adequate traveling, workshop, and plein aire sized box.

It is, however, light: a little more than 3 pounds. With pastels in it, Mrs. Heilmann told me it will be twice that, about 6 pounds. Perfectly portable.
I disagree. I would not describe it as "perfectly portable". I would not carry the loaded backpack sized Heilman on my back on a backpack and I don't even have back problems. It is devilishly heavy IMO. (I am sorry I don't have a scale to weigh mine.) I use a rolling laptop bag when I take it out.

If I return it for the "original size" box, that is around 6 pounds, if memory serves. Presumably when packed with pastels, it will be twice that, or 12 pounds. That seems heavy.
Very much so!! I use this one only in my "studio" space. I like it because it is big enough to hold all the colors I use but, when I need to clean up to use the space for something else, I can just close it and fold it. Boom. Done.

Few other considerations:
-- The backpack size will put less stress on your tripod or table or whatever support you'll be using for plein air.
-- The backpack size folds open to a smaller "footprint", which makes it much more handy and more, well, usable.

Does anyone else have the back pack Heilmann? Or have any words of wisdom or advice?
You made an very good choice IMO. The Heilman's have the best system for securing the lids, the sturdiest construction, and appear to be made from superior materials. As compared to the other boxes I have either tried or looked at.

For traveling, weekly pastel classes and weekend workshop, and nearby plein aire work the backpack size is a very, very good solution.

For a three-week trip to a place without art supply stores, I would pack some extra pieces of the colors that I like and use a lot, in a separate box. But I think the backpack size would be perfect for that kind of extended trip as well.

Hope this helps relieve your anxiety! You chose the best box out there, in my opinion!

Below are my backpack and medium sized boxes, both open, so you can compare. As you can see, the small one holds quite a few colors.

Jan

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Jul-2010/12504-heilmans.jpg

edencompton
07-05-2010, 03:12 PM
Hi Ann-Marie! I agree with the others about the backpack box. Once you have broken your pastels (and you have to break your pastels!) you will see that you have more than enough colors. The key is to plan it out and make sure you have a dark, medium and light of all the colors you use most. I paint outside a lot (usually every day) in both pastel and oil. I used to take one of the roller bags filled to the brim with everything I thought I need when I was painting in pastel. I now fit it all in one backpack type bag and my fold up easel. You will tend not to go very far if you are having to lug so much stuff with you -- it's liberating to streamline!

Anne-Marie
07-05-2010, 03:16 PM
WOW! Tons of great info! Thank you!

Helen--thanks for sharing your experience with the backpack Heilman. I'm so glad you like that it suits you!

Jan--WOW, thank you so much for the pix and analysis. That really helps.

It's true that opened up, the backpack size compared to the original size doesn't look so very small. One does get to use both lids, top and bottom, which helps. It looks like you did a really good job of filling yours up nicely!

I have to say, I was very surprised to see how many pastels you fit in both boxes. It is becomming more and more apparent to me that I need to get over two key things: my avoidance of breaking pastels, and having the pastels touch eachother, as admittedly odd as that sounds. I am making strides in both. This past weekend, I dropped a wooden (NOT Heilman) box just a few inches--from my hands to the table--and a good half dozen or more pastels broke. My husband, knowing me, actually gasped and said immediately: you can get new ones. But I said, no, it's okay, this is how the real pastel artists do it. They all break their pastels. Deliberately! And he was so astonished. "They DO????" he said.

I then dusted the broken pieces off and began using them. And it was fine!

I have not yet put my pastels in my Heilman box, but I am going to. I'm going to keep the size I got.

Studio-1-F
07-05-2010, 10:05 PM
It's a pleasure to help! And let me say again: you made a good decision.

It is becomming more and more apparent to me that I need to get over two key things: my avoidance of breaking pastels, and having the pastels touch eachother, . . . Anne Marie, please put getting over both of these on your To-Do List for first thing tomorrow morning. First thing! You'll feel much better about things once you get past this. :heart: :heart: :heart:

Jan

Potoma
07-05-2010, 11:53 PM
Below are my backpack and medium sized boxes, both open, so you can compare. As you can see, the small one holds quite a few colors.

Jan

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Jul-2010/12504-heilmans.jpg

Love your Mama Bear and Baby Bear picture! What a great collection you have - so very neat.

Elcoll
07-12-2010, 10:51 PM
Thank you for that last post....I remember when I bought my first pastels and inspected them for damage...any damage. I was reluctant to break them and when I dropped just one Unison and it broke into a few pieces - I wanted to cry. LOL...I laughed that your husband gasped and how great that he said you could get new ones! Of course, now all my pastels are broken on purpose and the sun still comes up for me....go ahead, break your first one and you'll be breaking them all soon enough. And thanks for this thread...I've been on the fence about purchasing a Heilmann box and which one to get. After reading this thread I'm convinced and will be ordering the backpack size as soon as I hit "send reply".

Thanks...

WOW! Tons of great info! Thank you!

Helen--thanks for sharing your experience with the backpack Heilman. I'm so glad you like that it suits you!

Jan--WOW, thank you so much for the pix and analysis. That really helps.

It's true that opened up, the backpack size compared to the original size doesn't look so very small. One does get to use both lids, top and bottom, which helps. It looks like you did a really good job of filling yours up nicely!

I have to say, I was very surprised to see how many pastels you fit in both boxes. It is becomming more and more apparent to me that I need to get over two key things: my avoidance of breaking pastels, and having the pastels touch eachother, as admittedly odd as that sounds. I am making strides in both. This past weekend, I dropped a wooden (NOT Heilman) box just a few inches--from my hands to the table--and a good half dozen or more pastels broke. My husband, knowing me, actually gasped and said immediately: you can get new ones. But I said, no, it's okay, this is how the real pastel artists do it. They all break their pastels. Deliberately! And he was so astonished. "They DO????" he said.

I then dusted the broken pieces off and began using them. And it was fine!

I have not yet put my pastels in my Heilman box, but I am going to. I'm going to keep the size I got.

Anne-Marie
07-13-2010, 01:56 AM
Anne Marie, please put getting over both of these on your To-Do List for first thing tomorrow morning. First thing! You'll feel much better about things once you get past this. :heart: :heart: :heart:

Jan

Hi Jan!

I know, I know! It is true (as I'm sure is readily apparent) that, officially, I do have a bit of an OCD thing, albeit it is selective: wish I felt more compelled to clean the whole house than to compulsively arrange certain things. That, at least would be useful, lol. (Although the one place where my compulsiveness was helpful was in my job as a medical writer, because if there was a certain dilution change or change in temperature listed on, say page 363 of a several thousand page document, I would know exactly where the information would need to be changed on page 1,205.)

As I get more comfortable in a medium, I tend to loosen up. Today in pastel class I did not wipe off my pastels when I was done with them, and they have smudges of other colors on them. :smug: My pastels are starting to look more like the ones I see in people's pictures of their collections and less like never-used supplies.

Still need to deliberately break them, though . . .

Thanks for the encouragement--and the patience with my quirkiness--:heart:

Anne-Marie
07-13-2010, 02:00 AM
Thank you for that last post....I remember when I bought my first pastels and inspected them for damage...any damage. I was reluctant to break them and when I dropped just one Unison and it broke into a few pieces - I wanted to cry. LOL...I laughed that your husband gasped and how great that he said you could get new ones! Of course, now all my pastels are broken on purpose and the sun still comes up for me....go ahead, break your first one and you'll be breaking them all soon enough. And thanks for this thread...I've been on the fence about purchasing a Heilmann box and which one to get. After reading this thread I'm convinced and will be ordering the backpack size as soon as I hit "send reply".

Thanks...

I'm glad you've found the thread useful--and glad to know I'm not the only one who has a case of "pastel breakus hesitusness" (how's that for fake Latin?) ;)
Let us know when you get your Heilman and how you like it!

bcraver
07-13-2010, 03:18 AM
I have both the backpack size (for about 5 years now - I love it) and got the next bigger size this spring just because . . . I think one of my pastel idols, Richard McKinley, has the next larger size. (I was traveling out of state to a pastel workshop and was determined to have the PERFECT set up. As it was, I was at a LaConner Art Workshop - located IN the Dakota Art Store building!!! I had to buy a "few" more pastels. See their half stick Senneillier set - the Paris set - what a deal!)

Frankly you can fit everything you need in the backpack size - but the problem is you naturally don't KNOW what you need, so you put way too much in! The backpack size is much more portable and manageable. The larger size is better for home or car travel.

I want Jan to come and organize my pastel boxes!!! I find that to be quite tedious and stressful. I love some of my very light Terrages, they are so big, but indispensable for skies.

You know you will do fine with whatever you have, the color is frosting, the real structure is in the values, so maybe your smaller selection will make you try other colors in the right value - and you might be happily surprised!

Good to see so many Heilman devotees. They are the best and I love supporting a couple dedicated to making a good product themselves.

Studio-1-F
07-13-2010, 09:06 AM
I want Jan to come and organize my pastel boxes!!! I find that to be quite tedious and stressful.
Barbara, I'd be happy to do that, provided I could also stop at Anne-Marie's house on the way to your house and break all her pastels. :evil: :evil: :evil:

BTW, there is a pic of McKinley's plein air boxes in his most recent posting. (http://pastelpointersblog.artistsnetwork.com/2010/07/12/AConsistentPaletteThePleinAirArtistsFriend.aspx) Note that he organizes by hue, then value. Me, by value then hue. C'est la vie. Note also that the top box in the pic is the Heilman backpack size.

Jan

westcoast_Mike
07-13-2010, 11:48 AM
The backpack size is much more portable and manageable. The larger size is better for home or car travel.

The backpack size is just that. It will fit in a backpack. The next size up (which I use) will fit in SOME packs. But you better take it with you when you go shopping to be sure. There aren't many that it will acctualy fit in.

Anne-Marie
07-13-2010, 01:21 PM
Barbara, I'd be happy to do that, provided I could also stop at Anne-Marie's house on the way to your house and break all her pastels. :evil: :evil: :evil:

Jan

Gulp!:eek:

MarinaG
07-26-2010, 10:14 PM
I believe Richard McKinley has the backpack size too - see here (http://pastelpointersblog.artistsnetwork.com/2007/12/10/PastelsAndPlanes.aspx) - it's the reason why I purchased a Heilmann too.

I love love love my backpack size box. Any bigger would be too heavy for me. I can get lots inside and I still have room for more (a 60 box of Terry Ludwig's is on the way!). It's great for the studio too - it has a clip that keeps the two sides flat so they don't tip up and it has a tripod mount to put the whole thing on a tripod if you're out in the field.

I also have the easel. I'm not as big of a fan of the easel for the main reason that the pastel dust falls inside the box. Even if I put some paper or card to collect the dust it just seems to go everywhere and it's especially a problem when the bottom width of the painting is wider than the ledge of the easel as it is difficult to put something underneath to collect the dust. Anyone figured out a way to solve this problem?

adventureartist
07-27-2010, 01:59 AM
When I start painting after doing a basic sketch on the paper, I spend some time looking at the four main values and pick out a light, mid and dark of each of the four basic values and put them in a small paint palette that has four cups, (see pic) and then I put a small hand towel over the pastels in the box and just use the colors I have chosen thus far until I need lighter lights or even maybe darker darks towards the end. This also helps keep me from using too many colors to start, it's harder when you have all those scrumptious colors staring you in the face while painting! VBG! The towel catches all the extra dust or chips that crumble off the sticks occasionally and I am able to gather it up and shake it off periodically. It's also nice to have to wipe my fingers off when I clean them with wipes and reapply skin barrier cream. The bottom of the "easel" does catch a lot of dust so before I pack it all up I use my last wipe (Clorox) to clean that off so the dust in the car is minimized also since that easel attaches to the outside of my backpack. http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Jul-2010/161935-IMG_2939.jpg

scall0way
02-07-2013, 09:20 AM
I just found this old thread when searching on Heilman boxes. I've yearned for one for years but have stayed away due to 1) cost and MOSTLY 2) size. All the Heilman boxes I'd seen were far too large for me. But Saturday I was at our pastel society's plein-air paint out, and one member had the most darling TINY Heilman box. I fell totally in love and wanted it immediately. She said it was a new size they had just come out with.

So I went to their website immediately intending to order - but the smallest size listed in the backpack box, said to be roughly 10x13. That would be far larger than the tablet I'm typing this on, yet I feel sure that the box she had was smaller than this tablet. It did have the tripod attachment though. So now I'm not sure. I'll have to see if I can ask her, but just curious if anyone knows of a size even smaller than the backpack size? Maybe I just remember the size wrong.

westcoast_Mike
02-07-2013, 10:31 AM
You probably saw the sketchbox single or sketchbox double. He cam out with these last fall. I saw the single in a Mentoring workshop up in Ft Bragg. The single will hold a decent assotment of half sticks and some 6 x 8 stock in the lid.

http://www.heilmandesigns.com/pastel-boxes-portable-pastel-box/

scall0way
02-07-2013, 10:25 PM
You probably saw the sketchbox single or sketchbox double. He cam out with these last fall. I saw the single in a Mentoring workshop up in Ft Bragg. The single will hold a decent assotment of half sticks and some 6 x 8 stock in the lid.

http://www.heilmandesigns.com/pastel-boxes-portable-pastel-box/ Yes, I heard back from my friend who has the box, and it's the sketchbox double, 7.25 inches by 9.25 inches, just exactly the size I wanted. I just ordered it tonight and was told it should be here by next Tuesday, so I'll have it in time for the 3-day plein air workshop I'll be doing at the end of the month. :D

Aelfwynn
02-08-2013, 03:12 AM
Ooooooh, I've been longing for something like the Heilman but smaller!

MChesleyJohnson
02-09-2013, 06:06 PM
I've been using the "backpack" size for years. It's perfect for me. I use it in the studio and out. My theory on pastels is akin to my theory on oil paints - I use a split-primary/secondary palette. So, I use 6 colors (ROYGBV) x a warm and cool version of each x 5 values. That makes 6x2x5 or 60 sticks. I also have a hard version (Polychromos) and a soft version (Mount Vision), which doubles that to 120. I still have room for a few greys and sepia tones. It's perfect!