My dear watercolourist husband who has a way with paintboxes wrote this for our Maraya Newsletter a few weeks ago under the title "Saving a Classic". Check out his blog to find
out what he does with empty Altoid boxes...
Watercolor artists fall into two camps: Those who love tubes and those who love pans. Count me in the second group.
With two small children at home and limited space, I don't have the luxury of a real studio or the ability to spread my art stuff around too much.
Watercolor boxes with pans or half pans in them are perfect for my needs. When Winsor & Newton started putting their artist pans and half-pans in plastic boxes, I felt a deep sense of disappointment. A whole era was ending. An era where craftsmanship and durability were paramount was giving way to mercantile flexibility and sales.
The Winsor & Newton Metal box is a true classic. The box is made of solid metal and has deep wells for mixing washes. It holds the pans perfectly in place. With its black enamel cover, it evokes those days of yore when everything built in England was known to be of the highest quality.I was recently able to acquire an old, abused Winsor & Newton metal box. The place holders for the pans were rusted and broken off, and the base of the box was also rusted and uninviting, but it was still as solid as the day it was built and the outside of the box was as good as new.
I needed to find a way to cover the base and a means to hold the paint pans in place. After taking detailed measurements of my box, I went to the local hardware store to see what I could find. Without a clear plan, I walked the aisles, looking for ideas - then ...I finally got it. I found a white peel-and-stick tile, a length of shelf edging (3/4") and some large staple gun staples - that was it, that was all I needed. I began by cutting a piece of the flexible tile to fit in the box.
Next, I cut three pieces of the shelf edging to the size of the box length. Because the staple gun will not drive a staple through the plastic of the edging or the core of the tile piece, I had to drill very small holes in the edging and the tile to fit the heavy staples in. I then held the edging in place and threaded the staple through the edging and the tile. I folded the ends of the staples and pressed them firmly in place with pliers.
Once I was done placing the three lines of edging on the tile, I slid the tile in place in the box. I could have peeled the bottom of the tile off and stuck it to the base of the box, but I decided against it. By keeping it loose, I could then easily remove the whole thing and clean the box when needed.With the tile in place, I put the half-pans inside the shelf edging. The half-pans fit snugly in there and don't move - it's as if the shelf edging was made especially for them.
So now, not only did I end up owning an excellent paintbox, functional in every way, but I had also rescued a classic Winsor & Newton metal box that have gone way beyond its prime and gave it a new life.
A final note: It is a shame that watercolor boxes are not as commonly used in North America as they are in Europe. I strongly urge the reader to try them - contrary to popular belief, one can get very strong colors from pans. All that is needed is to wet the pans and let them stand for a minute or two before using them. The resulting colors will be as strong as those freshly squeezed from a tube.
(For more pictures, see the full article here)