Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Portable Sketch Kit, Part 2: Velcro is the Key

When it comes to rigging up a portable sketch kit, Velcro is the key*. After devising a tiny paint box made from a Trader Joe’s mint tin and Daniel Smith watercolor sticks, I had to resolve the issue of juggling the paint box, mixing palette and sketchbook when sketching while standing up. Here’s my solution.

Velcro attached to tin and name plate.
I attached a small strip of industrial-strength Velcro to the bottom of the paint box (unfortunately, this means I had to remove the color swatch card, which I found a place for in a sketchbook).

The other side of the Velcro strip went on a door name plate from a previous corporate job (which I found in the bottom of my desk drawer where I keep potentially useful things like that). I chose the name plate mainly because it’s the right size and weight and also firm enough to support the weight of the mint tin. (I also like the mild irony of reusing a relic from my former corporate life to support my current creative life.)

The mixing tray has gone through several renditions, each better than the previous one. Currently it is the detached lid from my old Sakura Koi watercolor boxSee the previous renditions in this blog post.

Shown attached to 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" Stillman & Birn sketchbook

Now comes the best part: The whole assembly attaches directly to the sketchbook with a binder clip, which secures the other end of the name plate to the sketchbook cover. The solution works equally well with my pocket-sized Moleskine, 5” x 8” Moleskine and 5 1/2” x 8 1/2” Stillman & Birn. My right hand holds only the sketchbook, and my left is free to paint!

I’m pleased that all of this came together in a very short time. The most time-consuming part about the entire project was removing all the gummy adhesive residue on the mint tin and the back of the name plate with lighter fluid.

*Everything I know about Velcro as a critical sketch kit assembly tool I learned from Jamie Williams Grossman’s incredibly informative and inspiring blog, as well as various discussions on Wet Canvas and the Sketching Forum. Thank you, all, for your great ideas!

See the update to my portable watercolor kit.


  1. This looks clever!!! I'm always looking for a way to balance everything too.

  2. Excellent ideas! Well done! Thanks for the links to the other blogs and boards, too.


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