My plein air palette (cleaned and reassembled)

In my last post about my studio palette, Cindy and Kimberly's comments have spurred me to share a little bit about my plein air pochade box. I purchased my Open Box M about 3-4 years ago and have never regretted it. It offers a space on the back where I can store my finished pieces, a removable backboard I can attach my paper to, a large bed to place my pastels in, and a side tray. The biggest selling point was that it came with a wine glass holder! Imagine sipping wine after a wonderful plein air workout. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about here...but I digress.

I have made a few unique modifications that were not originally part of the box. These 'extras' were added to aid in quick set-up as well as wanting a mix of other features that are offered on many other well-known manufactured pochade boxes. So here goes:

Footsies, or better known as bumpers, attached to all four sides

First, I had to have my box be versatile both inside the studio and out. On the underside of the box is a thick piece of wood that supports the tripod adaptor which stretches the width of the box. Because of this necessary piece of support, it was unable to lay flat on my drafting board while in the studio. So I added some 'feet' on all four corners of the underside to clear the wooden brace, and now it can sit on my table flat without wiggling and tilting here and there. I bought these little feet at Judson's Art Outfitters in the "DIY" section here. Oooh nice! But wait, there's more!

Sturdy 'D' rings to attach a carrying strap

Let me back-up a bit here. Originally, I was gifted a Guerilla Box and loved a lot of the features, but it just didn't offer enough room for my favorite pastels. The Open Box M has plenty of room and comes with a small briefcase-like handle to carry it to the field. But hey, what if you need extra arms to carry those additional supplies that must make the trek to your favorite view? So, I added a few heavy duty D-rings on the sides of the box (like that of the Guerilla Painter box) and attached a leather strap that I bought online. Yes, now my arms are free to carry my wine bottle....oh, I mean lunch!

This hinge is from Guerilla Box that makes for quick opening and closing.

Next, there was the quick open/close issue. The Open Box came with two hinges on both sides on the lid that had little wing nuts that I found to be rather fussy. The Guerilla Box had a very sturdy aluminum hinge device made for quick opening and angle adjustments of the backboard and I liked it a lot. I found this very device in Judsons' Art Outfitters catalogue in their "DIY" section. This little "L" Bracket is sized for 6x8" boxes and can be mounted on either the left or right side of the box. It is strong and lightweight and is super fast to open and adjust to the right angle. Since I don't do hardware that well I had a woodworker attach it for me. I was thrilled for this small but important adaptation because I didn't have to mess with tiny little wing nuts when now all I have to do now is twist one knob and 'voila', it's done!

memory foam to protect my babies

Finally, the foam....

The Open Box M came with foam, however, it was not memory foam. If you have ever touched memory foam, you know what I mean. Have you ever sat on a Tempur-pedic bed? Well, imagine a bed for your pastels that protects and holds them tight in place. No more smashed pastels! The trick was finding memory foam that is sliced to 1/3 inch thick to fit the bed and top. I ordered such foam from Knox Foam, but the funny thing is that after I placed my order, they callled me back to inform me that they don't have the ability to slice it that thin. Then after about a month a funny looking package arrived on my doorstep. Memory foam cut to size! Now I really owe them a huge thanks for doing that, because it was going to be interesting slicing memory foam to 1/3 inch thick with an electric knife and guide blocks. The foam was sliced and glued with a spray mount onto a piece of illustration board cut to fit the interior lid of the box. This is what covers the pastels and holds them in place when the lid is closed.

These adaptations are a bit over the top but, they were just what I wanted in a box. It was worth the extra effort of searching for the parts and building it, and so now it is definitely one of a kind. What type of plein air box do you use?

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Blogger Donna T said...

Great post, Brenda! It's always interesting to see how we adapt our plein air boxes. I have the "Pro" box by EasyL and did some modifications for pastels too. I like your footsie things but think my tripod mount would need big riding boots because it sticks out so far. I had a wooden grid made to separate my pastels but I think I like your approach better - looks like your box holds a ton of pastels! I could have a wine glass holder made ... might help me paint looser!

4/12/11, 9:34 AM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

That's so funny Donna! Riding boots! Glad you like my newsy post.
I tried painting under the influence and interesting things began to happen. Like, 'where did I put that one color?'...or, 'hey, that looks just fine like that', later to find it pretty off. Looser, yup. It's grand, ain't it?Anyway, in reality, my box is a tad heavier than others, but it is so convenient and sturdy.

4/12/11, 9:44 AM  
Blogger Kim Vanlandingham said...

Ok, YOU'RE A GENIOUS!!! I don't work in pastels, but I love how you've adapted your box. I really need to not be afraid to add things to mine too. Its hard for me, especially when it may cost so much, to start drilling and adding things, but you've totally inspired me. Thanks for sharing!!!

4/13/11, 7:18 PM  
Blogger Casey Klahn said...

I've thought about putting a quick release or tripod attachment to my biggish box. The one I use is from a Sennie set (I think it was the 100 set when they revamped it and put the old one on sale).

I did a set up in my yard, here at the farm. The wind knocked everything over, and my closed box went upside down. Even with the foam lid liner, I still lost some ends to crumbling.

My compliments on a cool box, Brenda.

4/20/11, 7:39 AM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Thanks Casey,
The wind is NOT our friend and I don't know if rain is any better! :(
Hey, I'm co-chairing the NPS International show for 2012 to be held at the Caswell Gallery in Troutdale (May). It's not far from you so hope you can plan on it!

4/20/11, 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Mearced said...

I know this is an old post, but so glad I found it. I've been hunting for a pastel setup for plein air as well as studio use and this answers so many of my quetions and concerns!

One question ... any idea of about how many pastels fit into your box?

Thank you so much for sharing!

9/19/14, 10:09 PM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Hi Merced,
Thanks for visiting my blog. I am not certain but by the looks of the image on the ery top of this post looks like about 1000 to 1,1000 pastels. Just get enough variety in your colors and values and that should do it.

9/20/14, 4:37 AM  

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