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Monday, April 02, 2012

How to Make Your Own Pastel Plein Air Box

'Riding Through the Sage' 5x7 pastel ©Karen Margulis
purchase painting here $65
When I want to travel light a cigar box makes the perfect box for my pastels. I have shared a few of my cigar pastel boxes on the blog but I have had requests for more specific directions for making the boxes. Let me start by saying this is just a very simple box for pastels. I have friends who have made small pochade boxes for pastels which include a support and a place for paper....truly an all in one solution. I will be sharing directions for these boxes in a future post.

I love making these little boxes. They are so easy and inexpensive that I have several in use. I have a few boxes that store some of my favorite sets. When I am looking for a challenge, I will take out one of these boxes and paint exclusively with the colors in the box. When I am making a box for a plein air trip I will fill it with pastels that I think will suit the landscape I will be painting. I have been testing my new Southwest plein air box this week in preparation for the Plein Air Convention in Las Vegas. Today's little painting was painted with this SW box on Pastelmat.

The Making of a Plein Air Pastel Box

Here are the supplies needed to make a box:
  1. Cigar Box. I look for a lightweight wooden box that is not too thick. This box is 12 x 8 x 2.5 which is perfect. If you scour second hand shops you can find cigar boxes and other boxes that can be used. You can also find cigar boxes at your local cigar shop. Many times they will sell you empty boxes or even give them away. I did a search on ebay for empty cigar boxes and found a big selection.
  2. Foam: I use a square of Poly Foam that I get at Hobby Lobby. You can get a 1" x 14" x 14" square for $2.99. Any fabric store should carry the foam. 1" is the perfect thickness. You need enough for the bottom and inside the lid of your box.
  3. Glue: Any craft glue will work. I use Elmer's Craft Glue.
  4. Brass Hardware Catch: This is optional but for security I like to replace the flimsy cigar box catch with a more substantial catch. You can get these at any hardware store. I found mine at Big Lots!
All you do is measure the foam to fit snugly in the bottom of the box. Cut with exacto knife or scissors and glue into place. For the lid I cut the foam about 1/8-1/4" smaller than the lid so that the lid will close. Test it before you glue the foam in place. Let glue dry. Replace catch and fill the box with pastels!
If you want to get creative you can decorate your box. I am thinking of putting stickers from my trip on my box. It would be fun to collage or paint the box too!

My finished cigar plein air box that I have filled with Terry Ludwig's Arid Landscape set and a variety of other colors I think I might need for the Southwestern Landscape. I will also be bringing a smaller wooden box that I fill with Nupastels and Giraults which will help round out the set in case I find I am lacking something.


Jo Castillo said...

Great idea. Wish I could go to the Plein Air Convention. You should learn and have so o o o much fun.

Stephanie Cook said...

Thanks for all your info. Have a great trip. I wish I could be there, too. Maybe next year.......

Stephanie Cook said...

Thanks for all your info. It's much appreciated. Have a great time at the convention. Wish I could be there, too.

Karen said...

Thanks Stephanie!

Mermaid Sue said...

Saw yours and was inspired to make my own. I think mine's a bit smaller and I created a narrow divider to put some small tools, kneaded eraser, brush, q-tips, pencil, and other little odds and ends.
WHen I have a chance I'll post to my blog. http://mermaidsuesstudio.blogspot.com