Category Archives: Projects

Drying Rack

I got tired of having my little paintings festooning every window and door frame in the house. I actually made this very rudimentary rack to display some of them for a craft show I went to in the Fall, but it works very well as a place to dry my oils.

Cigar Box Pochade Hardware

I spent some more time finishing off my pochade.
I replaced the hinges and clasp and made a brace from a couple of mending strips. I have an old camera tripod which is missing the block that is supposed to screw into the camera. So I made a mounting block out of three pieces of boxwood and glued and screwed them into the botom of the cigar box. I actually used it today for one of my Daily Paintings. I am still on the look out for some accessories. I need a suitable palette and a way of securing it in the box so that I can transport it without the paint getting all over everything. I would also like to find a good way to secure the panel while painting. Watch this space.

Pochade Clasp

Pochade Clasp

Pochade Brace

Pochade Brace

Pochade Hinges

Pochade Hinges

Pochade Mount

Pochade Mount

Mounted on a Tripod

Mounted on a Tripod

Making the pochade

Well I made some progress today. Whether this will be worth the time I am putting into it remains to be seen. I must have spent two hours this morning seeking out the right hardware. Everything I have read insists that it is essential to replace the existing hardware with something sturdier, so I have found some small brass hinges, a new clasp and a pair of brass “mending strips” to use for a brace. I have also used some box wood from a fruit box (the sort of thing that mandarin oranges come in) to reinforce the back and front where the new hinges and clasps will be attached. The cigar box is made from very thin cedar and I want something for the screws to go into. I cut the reinforcing strips with a box cutter and am gluing them with carpenters glue. So far so good.

Cigar Boxes

I have been thinking for some time that I wanted to replace my antique pochade with something a little less precious. The one I have belonged to my grandfather and is at least 100 years old. I have looked at the commercially available ones and they are mostly too big, too expensive or too fancy. I have read a couple of blog-posts about making them out of cigar boxes and so I want to give it a try.
One of the advantages of working in a tourist town is that although there may be a shortage of many necessities, like a pharmacy or hardware store, we do have a cigar store and my American readers might be shocked to note that it sells Cuban cigars. They sell the fancier wooden boxes for five dollars but they give away the paper-covered ones. It is the wooden one with the recessed lid that I need for my project but I couldn’t resist picking up a couple of the others as well. They are so attractive and I am sure I can use them for something.  On the bottom of the pile you can see my current box.
Cigar boxes for making a pochade
The next step is to replace the hardware with something a little more sturdy. I will try to post again as I progress.

Make a Sketchbook

Watercolour Sketchbook

I live in an art-supply desert. There are a couple of hobby and craft shops that sell some stuff but I know of nowhere locally that I can buy a nice, hard-bound, watercolour sketchbook.
Fortunately they aren’t really all that hard to make, so I thought I would share this with you. These instructions aren’t very detailed, the only tricky part is sewing the signatures together. I am assuming that most people with some artistic ability will have some understanding already of simple crafting skills.

Supplies needed:
Paper, this is just a sketchbook, so an inexpensive pad of 9″X12″ watercolour paper should be available almost anywhere, even Wal-Mart sells them. Obviously you can use better quality paper if you like but it might be best to start out with something cheap.
You will also need one piece of plain paper a little lighter weight, this needs to be just an inch or so longer than the watercolour paper, you could use kraft paper or wrapping paper.
Card, about 1/8th inch thick and around 10″X14″. An off-cut of matt board is ideal.
Fabric, a remnant is fine. You can use just about anything for this but you don’t want it to be too thick or too thin, cotton is probably best to start with.
Coloured paper, only if you want to use endpapers, wallpaper, wrapping paper, something sturdy and decorative.
Thread, you will need one piece of strong white button-thread about 40″ long. A very fine crochet thread would do too.
Darning Needle
PVA Glue, aka white glue

Cutting board or mat
Vise or press
(not essential, but helps to produce a neat finish)

A “perfect bound” book is made of a stack of “signatures”. Each signature consists of several sheets of paper folded in half and sewn together at the fold. The number of sheets you use depends somewhat on how thick the paper is. I probably wouldn’t use more than four sheets of 90lb paper. About 4-5 signatures would be good for a first attempt. Five signatures of four sheets each will give you a 40 sheet book, that has nearly 80 usable sides, not too bad.
1. Fold each signature in half, you might want to score the paper before doing this, and then stack them one atop the other.
2. When the signatures are folded and stacked neatly, mark the spine with a pencil 1/2″ from each end and twice more evenly spaced in between. You don’t need to be absolutely precise with this, just make sure that the marks are in the same place on each signature.
3. Use your darning needle to pierce each signature at the pencil marks, this will make it easier when you are sewing them.
4. Thread the needle with 40″ of thread and knot it (a good sturdy knot that won’t pull through) about one inch from the end.

Sewing the Signatures
5. This is really the only tricky bit of the whole operation and is remarkably simple once you get the hang of it. Follow the numbers (this is important), starting in the upper right hand corner. Dotted lines indicate that the thread is running under the paper. Between 10 and 11 run your needle through the starting knot. Between 16 and 17 take the thread back through the stitch from 4 to 5 . Likewise, between 22 and 23 pass back through 11. On the last signature tie off the thread and cut. You want the result to be firm but not too tight.

6. When your signatures are sewn you should cover the spine with glue and clamp the whole in a vise or press until dry. If you place it between two sheets of wax paper you can just use a pile of books to weigh it down.
7. Cut the card the same width as the book and 1/4 inch taller. The spine should be cut the same width as the spine of the book and 1/4 inch taller.

Sketchbook Cover
8. Cut the fabric with about 1 inch to spare all around, see diagram.

9. Glue the card to the fabric, turn the edges over, mitering the corners.

10. Then cut a piece of lighter weight paper about 1/4″ smaller all around than the cover and paste it over the inside, covering all the raw edges of fabric
10. Glue the first and last pages of your book to the cover and put back in the press until dry.

If you want a fancier finish, or if you are using better quality paper and don’t want to waste any, you can use end-papers to glue the book into the cover. There are various ways of doing this, have a look at a good quality bound book to get an idea of how it is done.

Because this is “perfect bound” you should be able to open it out completely flat without breaking the spine.  Needless to say, there are many more tricks you can use to obtain a more professional finish, but you should be able to create a workable sketchbook with these instructions and with practise the results will improve.

Watercolour Pochade

This is the kit I use when I am doing plein air sketches, it contains:

  • my lovely W&N pocket watercolour box,
  • some extra brushes (old cosmetic brushes tend to be small but good quality)
  • a couple of pencil stubs and a pencil holder, eraser, pencil-sharpener,
  • a purse-sized kleenex pack,
  • a natural sponge,
  • and postcard-sized watercolour paper