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Build a Pochade Outdoor Painting Box

June 30, 2011

I have been fascinated lately with the ultra-compact and complete painting pochade box systems such as are sold by Guerilla Painter, Mabef, Sienna and other manufacturers.  The problem with these pochade boxes is the cost: most pochade boxes start at about $60.00 – $80.00 USD or more [I was finding even higher prices in the UK] and then charge for added features like brush holders.  I have a Jullian full-box French easel [nabbed on sale a little over $100.00], a Cezanne half box french easel [which I bought on sale at Jerry’s Artarama for $60.00] and an aluminum outdoor sketch easel [$20.00].  These items are well-loved by me, yet still require me to lug extra equipment or are fairly heavy in themselves.  A French easel get heavy fast when you load it down with paint tubes, which is probably not a good idea.  I’ve used the French easels indoors more than any place else.  Pochades are for making smaller paintings and the box itself ideally should weigh in from 1 – 3 pounds.  A well designed one will hold paints and a few other supplies, storing the canvas or water color paper in the lid.  They can be mounted onto a regular camera tripod and work like a French easel.

Here’s where the DIY fix comes in: you can build a pochade for very little cost out of an existing wooden cigar box, an old wooden art supplies case or from a similar wooden box.  These are very basic in their construction and do not require an wood working shop or background.  I watched all three of these videos, and I think I will build a pochade using a cigar box combining methods in the videos.  The first video has the easiest path to making a useful pochade.  The second video has tips on various brass hardware components that more closely emulate the functionality of the professional, expensive models.  The last video is a box a guy has built to be a pochade and his methods of installing a glass palette on the bottom and clever bungee cord canvas panel holder.   Watch these videos, then you may want to round up a box to make your own pochade for outdoor painting.



I did watch one video where a guy used a metal contractor’s clipboard, the box kind that closes with a long hinge in the center; but he wants $10.00 via PayPal for the pattern.  That guy can kiss my butt.  I can reverse engineer that concept if I want to because I have already viewed the finished item.  I don’t recommend the video and am not showing it; it’s just him showing off the idea to sell you the pattern.  It is useful in that it does show you can flex various things into being a pochade painter’s box.

I also previously posted a way to make a tin mint [Altoids] box into a tiny portable watercolor set here.  This could be used with a pochade for watercolor painting.

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