French Easel Pastel Storage Idea

I, perhaps unwisely, purchased a french easel for plein air painting for the workshop back in March. French easels are not particularly well suited for pastel transport, and particularly not for Pan Pastels, but that’s another story (turns out pans are best transported in their plastic trays–I just carry them in my backpack). I determined to make it work. With some research, I came up with a solution.

My little studio is set up in my storage room at the back of my garage. I am learning that I must work on the easel if I am to save my shoulder and neck, even though most of the time I would prefer to simply hold the support in one hand so that I could turn it to put marks on in different directions. It is necessary to turn from my easel back to my table repeatedly to choose pastels, so I decided to simply store my stick pastels in the easel itself, in the top drawer. In order to make sure the pastels are secure and won’t shatter or tumble as the easel is moved or carried, they must be protected and padded. Below, you will see how I chose to accomplish this. I will be creating a similar box for the soft sticks as well.

Materials you will need:

  • Foam core board
  • Knife for cutting foam core
  • Packing tape
  • Duct tape
  • Pillow form
  • hot glue and hot glue gun
  • cardboard
  • drawer lining

I carefully measured the space I knew I would need for the hard pastels and double checked that the space I intended to put them would contain them: it’s important that there be little or no room for the pastels to shift during transport. This also allowed me to create the insert box the exact size needed. I purchased a large pillow form (very cheap) at the local big box store. The material is easily separated into layers of just the thickness needed, and trimmed to a size slightly smaller than the lid to fit tightly down on the pastels and prevent tumbling and shifting during transport. The rest is self-explanatory from the photos, I think, but if not, please let me know.

foam core pieces
foam core cut to size, bottom and sides
easel space
long, narrow space intended for box
tape placement
packing tape used to assemble sides to bottom of box
box assembled
the box assembled with sides, ready for reinforcement with duct tape
beginning to apply duct tape reinforcement. Isn’t it pretty duct tape?
duct tape placement
Duct tape reinforces up the sides, around the corners and the bottom edges.
Box is complete. Now to add drawer lining
drawer lining and pastels added to box
drawer lining will help cushion the pastels and keep them from shifting
box inserted into easel section. Fits perfectly! That space at the bottom will be storage for panpastel sponges
Lid materials: pillow form section and cardboard
hot glue on the cardboard
lid ready to apply. The lid doesn’t fit tightly, just rests on top, but when the easel is closed it will be held in place securely
Finished! When the easel is closed, the lid will be securely pressed against the pastels to keep them from tumbling.


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