Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Table Easel

From an antique art supply catalog, here's a design for a simple tabletop easel. The point is to lift the work to an angle that is perpendicular to your line of sight, and to avoid the habit of leaning uncomfortably over the table.

It's made of two wood or stiff cardboard panels hinged along the top (you could glue a canvas hinge or use metal hinges), with a string holding them apart at a fixed angle. The drawing pad could be clamped to the front panel, and on the back is a manila envelope or expanding wallet file for holding loose sheets. They show the pencils held in with elastic straps at the top, but I would build it with little or no clearance above the pad, so as not to interfere with your line of sight.

The whole thing folds flat when not in use. You could also make a smaller version of this to suit a single sketchbook. The string holding it open could be made adjustable by running it through a hole in the back to a cord lock clamp.

Most table easels on the market now are more complicated or expensive than they need to be, involving an aluminum structure or a wood box with a tip-up section, or wood panels hinging from the bottom.


Travis Wilson said...

Interesting little article. I've wanted to build a sketch easel for painting for a while now, I've just never gotten around to it! I'm always holding my paints and everything on my lap or the ground which can get messy sometimes!

GJ said...

Koo Schadler, the egg tempera genius, has wonderful, simple table-top easels for sale [made by her excellent spouse]. Here is a link to her site.


Warren JB said...

I'm still a little confused about the construction. How does the sketchpad clamp on? How is the string fixed? Looking at the illustration I would guess there's a hole in the back panel, leading under the envelope and up to a small screw or knob where it's tied off; but I'm not sure.

James Gurney said...

Warren, I was wondering the same thing. They don't show how the pad is held onto the backboard, but spring clamps would do it. For the string, you could screw in two ends of a small chain that opened to a fixed distance, or use a string through the hole idea. That string, as you suggested, could go up and wrap around a little button to secure it.

Newt said...

In a turn-of-the-century lettering manual (Writing and Illuminating and Lettering by Edward Johnston) the author illustrates a similar hinged board, but instead of the hinge being at the top it's at the front - that is, one board rests on the table and the other is up in the air. A tin can is used to prop the upper board at the correct angle. His setup also uses string to hold the paper on; the string is attached to the board with push pins.

In the interests of not chewing up your board, it would be easy enough to inset a strip of steel in the upper part of the board and secure the paper with magnets.

Anonymous said...

The EASIEST way would be to buy the corrugated plastic signs at Home Depot or Lowes, you can get cheap hinges there while you're at it, plus the signs take a LOT of damage. Been using them for watercolors for years. $1.49??? WOW. Those were the days... !