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Old 01-14-2011, 07:16 PM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

Hi gang! I'm in the throes of writing about palette boxes and I really hope to get some advice, information and ideas from you on this subject. We see threads asking about various boxes all the time, of course, and I'll do my homework searching through things posted here, BUT I also want to ask you some specific questions.

IN THE STUDIO
What boxes have you used in your studio to store &/or lay out your pastels?
Have you made do with something creative? What and how? Do you use a fishing tackle box or a tool chest? What is it and where can I find it?

Have you made your own? Can you show me?

Have you found a product somewhere that really works well for you? What is it and where can I find it?

Are you sold on a particular taboret or shelves or some other way of laying out your pastels? Can you link me to it or show me a photo?

What features matter most to you and why? Think of how you close the box or how safe the pastels are, those kinds of things.

Do you close or cover the box when it's not in use? What for?
IN THE FIELD
What do you use to transport your pastels to and from a class or out on location to paint?
Is there one product you're totally sold on? What is it and can you link me there?

Have you tried other things that don't work as well, and why not--for you, of course, since others might like it. Your personal opinion is what interests me.

What features matter most to you and why? Think of how you close the box or how safe the pastels are in transit.

Do you take your pastels on a plane? What do you use? What do I need to consider if I travel this way?

Does the weight generally make a difference to you? How much is too much? Is there any way you've managed to cut down on the weight?

How about handles and straps? Do you like to put the thing over your shoulder or on your back?

Does anyone backpack with pastels? How do you take pastels out into the wilderness?

  • When you were first starting out what did you want to know but didn't know to ask about?

  • Now that you've done it a while, what have you figured out that you would do a little differently?

  • If price was no barrier, what would you use in the studio, and what would you take out on location? Why?


I'd LOVE to see some photos of your boxes... Here's mine (not even spiffed up, but the way it REALLY LOOKS!!)




Thank you guys!
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Old 01-14-2011, 09:57 PM
JPQ JPQ is offline
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deborah Secor
Hi gang! I'm in the throes of writing about palette boxes and I really hope to get some advice, information and ideas from you on this subject. We see threads asking about various boxes all the time, of course, and I'll do my homework searching through things posted here, BUT I also want to ask you some specific questions.

IN THE STUDIO
What boxes have you used in your studio to store &/or lay out your pastels?
Have you made do with something creative? What and how? Do you use a fishing tackle box or a tool chest? What is it and where can I find it?

Have you made your own? Can you show me?

Have you found a product somewhere that really works well for you? What is it and where can I find it?

Are you sold on a particular taboret or shelves or some other way of laying out your pastels? Can you link me to it or show me a photo?

What features matter most to you and why? Think of how you close the box or how safe the pastels are, those kinds of things.

Do you close or cover the box when it's not in use? What for?
IN THE FIELD
What do you use to transport your pastels to and from a class or out on location to paint?
Is there one product you're totally sold on? What is it and can you link me there?

Have you tried other things that don't work as well, and why not--for you, of course, since others might like it. Your personal opinion is what interests me.

What features matter most to you and why? Think of how you close the box or how safe the pastels are in transit.

Do you take your pastels on a plane? What do you use? What do I need to consider if I travel this way?

Does the weight generally make a difference to you? How much is too much? Is there any way you've managed to cut down on the weight?

How about handles and straps? Do you like to put the thing over your shoulder or on your back?

Does anyone backpack with pastels? How do you take pastels out into the wilderness?

  • When you were first starting out what did you want to know but didn't know to ask about?

  • Now that you've done it a while, what have you figured out that you would do a little differently?

  • If price was no barrier, what would you use in the studio, and what would you take out on location? Why?


I'd LOVE to see some photos of your boxes... Here's mine (not even spiffed up, but the way it REALLY LOOKS!!)




Thank you guys!

Oddly i dont see many/any greys in this set ?
ps. i dont know pastel boxes i maybe buy someday schimincke boxes looks best solution becouse these are my favorites. even still means i must limit my colour range more than when i compare talens rembrandt what least colour chart looks little boring and based three pastels.(all of these are some kind yellow greens i think...). i mean i really love schmincke stuff even i have only i think maybe 15 pastels of them. i order soon i can more of them...(but saddly i need so many things.)
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:40 PM
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robertsloan2 robertsloan2 is offline
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

I don't have one yet, but I've been considering saving up for a Heilman box on the many recommendations I've seen here in the threads.

What I use now is the boxes the sets come in for the most part. I keep the pastels in chromatic order in the sets by brand, and swap boxes as I work from hard to soft in a painting.

I keep open stock in a shallow three drawer wooden pastels box that's from Australia, got it in a swap with an Australian friend. It's made by Mont Marte and is similar to the ones Jerry's has and Dakota has, except Dakota's has foam padding in the drawers and is probably nicer. I'll find out as soon as it arrives, I ordered a two drawer one a week ago because the three drawer one is full with open stock and other small art supplies.

I know that eventually I will want something like the Heilman one though, especially the small backpack size one since I won't be putting everything I have in it - just everything I want to bring with when I go out.

Alternately, I considered taking the slotted foam out of my 72 Unisons Signature box and stashing a piece of everything in that box. Its clear acrylic window is so tempting, even if it hasn't got separate dividers inside I'd have the advantage of seeing everything that's inside when I put the foam on the bottom and stack the pastels up. A bit like yours in a way but bigger and wider, organized that way - chromatic left to right and value up and down.
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:00 PM
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Lynndidj Lynndidj is offline
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

Hi Deborah - I'll try and give you some ideas, although I don't know if my solutions are optimal for all.

When we did remodeling in our kitchen, I took the old formica island countertop and had flat files made for my studio that fit under that countertop. The entire thing is on casters so I can move it around. I designed the drawers specifically around my full set of Sennilier pastels because I wanted to be able to have all three trays laid out in one drawer side by side (so they are quite large) and the drawer pulled out fully so all the pastels are accessible. I have a drawer that houses PanPastels, and many assorted pastels, as well as the boxes that hold the "other half" of the pastel for re-ordering time. This also serves as pastel storage, paper storage, and work surface, all in one. If you would like pictures, I would be happy to provide them to you, but please IM me an email because it will take me forever to upload them here.

I also use a medium Heilman box for both in the studio and plein air work. When I'm choosing what should go in the box, I use a cookie sheet (with sides) to sort out my pastels - and when I paint at home I will keep the cookie sheet close at hand for more choices! Having the drawers helps to keep my pastels close at hand, but not always out - which I like. My Heilman can be easily opened and set out on the countertop, or closed and put away.

If I am sold on two items, it would be my Heilman box, which I have taken on planes and regularly take to my art class, and my Soltek easel. Though it requires an additional support leg to hold the weight of my Heilman box, the Soltek is incredibly easy to set up and use. The height adjustment for the easel allows me to move my painting up and down, depending on which part I am working on (top or bottom) so my arm and shoulder are not in odd positions when I am painting. This adjustment is SO easy to make on a Soltek. I previously used a tripod for my Heilman, but when painting next to someone at a recent workshop, she was set up, had her NOTAN done and was working on her underpainting while I was still fussing with getting my box on the tripod and everything in place. Weight is also an issue, and the Soltek doesn't weigh much more than my tripod, and it is so much easier to pack, tote, and set up. I'm hoping to be able to fit everything else necessary to paint (pencils, small watercolor palette, etc.) in my Soltek so that I am basically carrying two things out in the field for plein air. The only addition would be my sun umbrella which clamps onto the Soltek. I use the Best Brella brand of sun umbrella.

I used to use the Jim Markle pastel box and there were many things I liked about it, but ultimately, I find the Heilman works better for me. I could not get my work surface high enough away from the Markle box, as the work surface is on the inside of the lid, to be comfortable and would get a sore back and shoulder. With the Soltek/Heilman arrangement that has been totally alleviated. I do arrange my pastels like Richard McKinley does - I find it works well for me and the way I think about color, value and temperature. I like the medium size of the Heilman as it holds many pastels without being terribly heavy, and we really can never have enough pastels on hand no matter where we are. I have never had a pastel break in my Heilman case - but I don't ever put it through with my checked luggage, I always take it through onto the plane. Sometimes the TSA gets worried, but I have labels on my Heilman with instructions on how to open the case and that inside are artist's chalk pastels, and so far I have never had a real problem. Usually they ask me to open it, and I do, and everybody is happy. I simply plan on a little more time in the Security line. I have not taken this on an International trip, and have decided that I would choose to purchase (or get as a birthday or Christmas gift!) the backpack size Heilman if I do such a trip. The weight would become an issue with the medium Heilman on an International trip but works fine for the U.S.

Once all of my reorganized Christmas boxes are down the basement, I would be happy to clean up my studio and photograph anything you want to see. But please, don't make me post all those photos here ... I have a terrible time with that!!

Hope this is useful!

Lynn
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:10 PM
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Lynndidj Lynndidj is offline
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

OK, a few more observations about the Heilman (and no, I am not on their payroll!!). I love the way I can put all different sizes of pastels in the box and the memory foam cradles them all and holds them in place. The lids for each side are very easy to place back on and secure, and the case closes very securely with solid latches so I don't worry about it falling open - ever.

I think it is very difficult for people to figure out what will work for them - especially plein air. I went through a number of set-ups before I finally figured out what was best for me, and what was the most compact way to travel with it. I guess my suggestion for those who are considering what to purchase is to try and see what you are considering in real life, with somebody using it (like at a workshop).

Really, my wonderful husband has spoiled me beyond belief and there is very little I could need or want in my studio. My island flat file is so great and holds so much and gives me so much countertop workspace, I have an artist's air so the dust isn't a problem, and after a number of years I finally have figured out my plein air set-up and received those things as gifts, so I feel truly blessed. The one thing I could really use is emotional space to create - but that is something nobody can give me, but me!

Lynn
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Old 01-15-2011, 07:01 AM
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

When is *our* deadline, Deborah?
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Old 01-15-2011, 10:43 AM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

Thanks to you all! Okay, I knew the Heilman would be a heavy favorite, for obvious reasons. I'm interested in boxes of all kinds, however, and appreciate hearing what you all use.

JPQ, right now I'm not interested in the pastels inside, just the box. Mine has a snap-on lid with foam glued to the top to trap the pastel sticks safely in place when I travel. (And there are grays, but the photo is overexposed.)

Robert, is this the box you use? It does look like the one from Jerry's. I had trouble with the drawers sticking and refusing to slide in and out, especially with the dust. Any problems or special care needed? I've never seen the Unison box with the window...

I may yet write this one as a stroll through my history of 30 years of pastel boxes! I used to have some Art Bin boxes, which are still around but not often mentioned anymore. They're rigid, lightweight plastic boxes with trays stacked inside that hold individual sticks. The size of the slots was an issue for larger sticks. I also bought a little case for my mom, back when she came to classes, that has little plastic boxes inside a nice velcro-closure nylon bag. Small, but fine for her needs.

Lynn, I find photos make it easier to talk about things here, especially when you have custom-designed things. Don't stress, I think I have the picture. In some cases a link works even better. Here's a link to the Heilman boxes so those of us who don't have them can drool... Lynn, tell me about the Markle box, even if you don't use it anymore.

Charlie, there's some time. I'm in the mood to get this one written, however, so I'm on it now. It's a huge subject and I have limited space, so I'm trying to get the big picture on a small canvas, if you know what I mean!

Thanks again!
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Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
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Last edited by Deborah Secor : 01-15-2011 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 01-15-2011, 11:55 AM
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saramathewson saramathewson is offline
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

In the "studio" I use the boxes that came in the "degas pastel box" from Jerry's. I don't actually use the box as it is heavy and I don't need it in the studio. When I bought it I was new to pastels and the price was right. Well, when fully loaded it is very heavy and the foam in the boxes is so thin it doesn't keep them where I pyut them so everytime I would open it i had a mess in each box. I also use the boxes that some of my Terry Ludwigs came in, so they are separate from my other pastels.

For Plein Air, I have purchased and used the guerilla pastel box that is fairly new and Dakota sells it which is where I bought it. It holds 4 of the guerilla plastic pastel boxes in it. I put a rubber band around each box to keep the lids on when I open it up. There is plenty of room in 4 of these boxes. And I find it works well with the tripod easel that Dakota sells from Mabef. It has two arms that fold out to hold the pastel box on and then there are two pieces of wood with a lip on them to come down and hold the box in place. I have only used it a few times as I am new to plein air painting but for me this works great and was a less expensive alternative to say the Dakota boxes or the heilman. Plus, I already have the guerilla pochade box and had the trays so now I have extras. I like using the tripod easel versus the guerilla box for most of my plein air painting though. The guerilla box is a bit cumbersome and although I have the extension for putting the panel.board to paint on so it is above the box lid, it is still more of a hassle. It works great though if you are doing 9x12 panels as it holds a couple of them right in the lid. Pro's and cons i guess. So, for my needs the guerilla pastel box works great and it has a handle and a shoulder strap for it if I so choose. so far I have only used the handle.

Sara
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:22 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

Thanks Sara! Lots to ponder there...
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:40 PM
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Phil Bates Phil Bates is offline
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

I'm a big Heilman fan. I love the sturdy, robust construction. I realize they're not for everyone, but perfect for me. I've probably bought 5 or 6 Heilman boxes over the past few years. Here are some of them:

Small backpack box for plein air:




Medium and Large boxes standing by ready for travel:




Large box for Pans:




I even had the Heilmans build a custom extra large box to carry a huge palette for my studio (note: the grays are in a separate large box, just composited into the photo):




Here is how the setup looks in my studio now, pans and grays in the foreground large box, and the custom box in the background:



Phil
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:15 PM
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

well, i'm odd man out here. i do not use a fancy wood box--i use the foam trays donna aldridge taught me to make. they can pack up very well into a computer box, if i need to. i like the fact that if i wind up needing more space, no big deal, jsut make another tray. these all fit nicely on a buffet table next to my easel. (my website has pix of this)

but, to travel i use a full french easel that i modified to fit as many pastels as possible. and i find i enjoy the challenge of making a painting work even if i do not have the 'exact' stick i think i need, while out painting. i use the french easel for demo's as well. the only thing else i need to travel, i pack a bag wtih some prepared panels (mat board with spectrum primer) and pencil bag of well, pencils, etc., tape, and those sort of items. (again, on my site there's a photo of it up in action)

i modified a 72landscape box from unison to fit in my full french drawer. tossed out the tin thingie that comes iwth it, and the palette. i used foam board (love me some foam board!) and shipping tape to make sections for diff. hues, and another for pencils and harder sticks. foam under the sticks, and top it with some foam i got for free at a garage sale, and a piece of masonite on top of the box with lid on, (doubles as a small drawing board) to kinda smoosh my pastels gently, to not roll around. works fabulously. no desire to change, even after seeing other set ups.

i know the wood boxes are pretty, but for the price, i'd either make my own or better yet, spend that money on paper or pastels! i have yet to see the reasoning to pay so much for a box, then a tripod, where my french easel does it all for less. i have it up and ready to paint within a couple minutes, it's very simple. i do not see it being hard to set up, i don't wrestle with it, just set it down, draw out the legs and set the whole thing up and paint! simple. that is what matters to me when i go out to paint, so its simple and quick to get up and paitning. and my sticks never get chipped or broken.

when traveling, i use a cart i got at jerry's i think. has wheels and makes getting this set up to a nice spot easy on my body. the cart doubles as a chair, so if its wet outside, dew on ground, etc., i put the bag of extras on the chair. easel gets bungee corded onto the cart, i do not use the bag it came with as i found that bulky.

in the studio i find it most important to have my sticks out, easily grabbed and safe. i do not cover them as my studio is off limits generally. my set up makes it simple to expand when needed. and it got the job done as cheaply as possible, leaving funds for the more important things.
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:22 PM
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

Phil, you have one heck of a nice set up.

I also use the Degas box. at home and Plein Air. I also use some of the boxes at home also withthe main box. I did take all the foam caddies out add some more foam so when i close it. it stay in shap. home and P A i have a camping table about 2 lbs that i put the box on. It will sit on the French easel draw but I can't keep my arm out with out spasms. so i keep it to my right side when out PA. I'll post a pic later.
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:44 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

Wow, Phil. Very impressive! Thanks for the photos. (I'm looking for something to take the Pans outside, so maybe the large Heilman will do it for me. Do all the colors fit in the large one?)

Chris, I really appreciate your frugal nature, having inherited one myself , and I love the way you've creatively approached filling your needs. I was hoping someone would mention those fomecore boxes Donna makes. I had them in mind but couldn't remember the details. I've also used my French easel very much as you describe (until it got to the point where my bad shoulder won't let me carry a fully loaded box anymore.) In case anyone else is interested, I'm adding the link to your studio page for them. Looks like a great spot!
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:50 PM
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deborah Secor
Thanks to you all! Okay, I knew the Heilman would be a heavy favorite, for obvious reasons. I'm interested in boxes of all kinds, however, and appreciate hearing what you all use.

JPQ, right now I'm not interested in the pastels inside, just the box. Mine has a snap-on lid with foam glued to the top to trap the pastel sticks safely in place when I travel. (And there are grays, but the photo is overexposed.)

Robert, is this the box you use? It does look like the one from Jerry's. I had trouble with the drawers sticking and refusing to slide in and out, especially with the dust. Any problems or special care needed? I've never seen the Unison box with the window...

I may yet write this one as a stroll through my history of 30 years of pastel boxes! I used to have some Art Bin boxes, which are still around but not often mentioned anymore. They're rigid, lightweight plastic boxes with trays stacked inside that hold individual sticks. The size of the slots was an issue for larger sticks. I also bought a little case for my mom, back when she came to classes, that has little plastic boxes inside a nice velcro-closure nylon bag. Small, but fine for her needs.

Lynn, I find photos make it easier to talk about things here, especially when you have custom-designed things. Don't stress, I think I have the picture. In some cases a link works even better. Here's a link to the Heilman boxes so those of us who don't have them can drool... Lynn, tell me about the Markle box, even if you don't use it anymore.

Charlie, there's some time. I'm in the mood to get this one written, however, so I'm on it now. It's a huge subject and I have limited space, so I'm trying to get the big picture on a small canvas, if you know what I mean!

Thanks again!

Deborah, yes, that's exactly the box I have on my table. I had a little trouble at first with the drawers sticking but that worked itself out within a week or so. The bottom drawer is a bit deeper, about 1/4" deeper, it would hold the big sticks like Mount Vision if I wanted to keep them in it. No foam padding though. I'm looking forward to the Dakota version where there's foam padding to protect my pastels.

I was attracted to that Guerrilla pastel box setup too for plein air, it looked interesting and useful. Sometimes I think I should use a Heilman for at home and something small like the Guerrilla for plein air - but until then using a set box with the slotted foam out is what I'll probably do.
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Old 01-15-2011, 01:59 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: Pastel Boxes: what you've tried and like best

Isn't the Guerrilla box a whole deal? I mean box and pastel holder all in one? Or do they make a box for pastels in particular? I better go look... ...and I found a handy video on their site. Looks good, in many ways. I wonder about packing up the box, however. I've stood in rainstorms and not had the leisure of carefully covering and stacking boxes. I could see myself fumbling and spilling the whole thing if I was too rushed.

Come to that, could someone show me how the Heilman box closes? I'll go see if they have a video! Hmmm, no...

Oh, Pete, I do want to know about the Degas Box, if you have the time. We must have cross-posted.
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Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
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