Thursday, April 27, 2017

Making a Simple Mahl Stick Easel Attachment



Hiya guys, this here is the second part of the improvements I did for my easel recently, focusing on the WIP of the 'Mahl Stick' this time. (Check out the first part at 'Making a Simple Shelf Addition for Easel').
 I've used a traditional mahl stick in the past with the padded end covered with fabric, but having to hold it in one hand while anchoring it to the easel or artwork while I worked (not ideal) was really restrictive and just made the whole process awkward and uncomfortable.. Needless to say I hardly ever used one..

There had to be a better alternative. Thus with a little online search I discovered quite a few artists had struggled with the same problems and had come up with their own alternatives.. None of them were exactly what I wanted however but they did help me come up with one that I hoped would work perfectly for me and would be quick and easy to make myself.

Here the mahl stick has been attached to the right side of the slider, and can move freely along that side. If I wish to have it on the left side I just have to slide it out of the right end and slide it back in on the left side of the slider..

The Mahl Stick has been attached to the easels header that slides up and down freely so as to accommodate a variety of artwork sizes. The mahl stick is attached to the header with a slider that enables me to slide the mahl stick left to right.Unfortunately the mahl stick is blocked from moving through the middle because of the header, however this is not too much of a problem as it can be slide out from one side of the slider and into the other quite easily.


Equipment Used
  • Handsaw
  • 2 G-Clamps (to hold wood while sawing and for clamping wood that were being stuck together)
  • Power drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Masking Tape


Materials for Mahl Stick (including handscrew fixture used to attach it to the slider)
  • 2 pieces of 0.5"x 0.5"x 44" in length wood (it can be longer but this is what I had and it was fine for my purposes)
  • 2 pieces of 0.5" x 0.2" x 2.5" in length wood
  • 2.7" Set screw (anything between this and 2" would work fine too)
  • Hand Knob (was lucky to have an extra one retrieved from an old music stand I had)
  • 2 flat washers
  • 1 metal nut
  • PVA wood Glue
  • Thick Linseed Oil for a nice finish and to protect the wood

From left: 2.7" set screw, 2 flat washers, metal nut, hand knob

The 0.5 " x 0.2" had not been
cut to 2.5" yet in this pic


Making the Mahl Stick


1. Once the wood was cut to the lengths needed, the thinner 0.5" x 0.2" x 2.5" pieces were sandwiched & clamped (with the PVA glue) between both ends of the 0.5" x 0.5" x 44" pieces of wood (using my G clamps which were not ideal for the job but worked fine in the end) till the glue had thoroughly dried. This left me with a 44" mahl stick with a 39"gap running along its middle.


2. Once the glue had completely dried, the mahl stick was given a good sanding with nice rounded/curved edges.

One end of the mahl
stick right after sanding

3. A liberal layer of thick linseed oil was then applied over the wood and then left to dry for a few days. ( for the best protection one should apply more than one layer till the wood stops absorbing the oil as much)

All the parts of the handscrew fixture put together.

With the mahl stick done, next is the slider!



Materials for Slider attached to Adjustable Easel Header
  • 2 pieces of 0.75"x 0.75"x 26" in length wood (this too can be longer depending on your needs and studio space)
  • 1 pc 0.25" x 0.75"x 3" plywood
  • 2 pc 2.5" long screws
  • Adjustable Header (that came with my easel)
  • Thick Linseed Oil for a nice finish and to protect the wood

From top: 0.75" x 0.75" wood, 2.5" screws,
0.25" x 0.75 " x 3 plywood, 0.75" x 0.75" wood, header.

My easels adjustable header right side up

As I mentioned in my previous post, my easel has an adjustable header that can be moved freely up and down the whole length of the easel, and be fastened in place where need be to hold artwork in place from the top.


However this header (above) has a thick edge that can cast quite a nasty shadow over the work underneath and also makes it difficult to paint the tops of my art-pieces. Thus I never use it and it usually sits way up, far above my artwork. However it was perfect to secure the slider for the mahl stick.



Making the Mahl Stick Slider

1. With the pieces of wood cut to size, the centers were marked and the  0.25" x 0.75"x 3" plywood was sandwiched dead center between the 0.75"x 0.75"x 26" pieces of wood. This center was then tightly wrapped with masking tape to hold all in place for the next stage.

2. With the G clamps I then clamped my sandwiched & taped pieces of wood, dead center to the bottom of the header (to be honest if I wasn't careful the clamps would slide off and the whole thing was rather precarious. My drilled holes were not quite straight as a result but that is more of an esthetic gripe for me rather than a utilitarian one). The side of the wood flush with the headers groove. 

The side of the slider wood flush with the headers groove.

3. Two holes were then drilled for the 2.5" screws that were to hold all the wood and header together.


Header with the slider wood screwed in with the 2.5" screws.
( A layer of linseed oil has already been applied to the slider in this image)

4. After checking everything screwed in and fit properly together, it was all dismantled again and the wood seasoned with a liberal layer of thick linseed oil for protection and a rich finish. As for the mahl stick this was left to dry for a few days before it was all reassembled again.

Testing before disassembling it
again to be seasoned with linseed oil.

The slider reassembled after it had been seasoned with linseed oil.


Putting it all together

Now with all the parts complete, all that needed to be done was to get just the right tension/ tightness so that the mahl stick would not budge with the hand knob fully tightened, by adjusting the nut on the mahl sticks handscrew fixture.

The mahl stick attached to the slider.


With the nut set at just the right distance, all that needs to be done to tighten or loosen the mahl stick to the slider are a few twists to the hand knob. The mahl stick is thus moved freely or held solidly in place with ease.


More info on this painting can be found at The Dress.

Thus far everything has been working as I had hoped. The little piece above being the latest to benefit from the new additions.. 


Hopefully this disorderly post was helpful, don't hesitate to drop me a message if you have any questions guys! 

Ta for now!.. 



Making a Simple Shelf Addition for Easel



Hi guys! This new attached mahl stick and extra easel shelf was so simple to make and has been such an invaluable addition to my studio since, I knew I had to drop by and post about it, and who knows it may help you make your own!.. To make things a little clearer I've made two separate posts for the shelf and attached mahl stick. This post focuses on the shelf.

The extra ledge/shelf made to hold my smaller art pieces higher up on my easel.

All together the new attached Mahl Stick and Added Shelf. I also added some wrought iron fixtures on the right side of my easel for easy access to my masking tape and tissue paper as I work..

As one who prefers standing at my easel so I can move back and around with ease, checking how my artworks look from afar and whatnot as I work, I needed a shelf that could be moved right up to eye level, so I could even paint tiny ACEO's at the easel if I wanted to. The shelf that my H-frame easel was built with would only move as high as my waist, perfect for one who only paints large paintings of at least 24 inches high, not so much if one creates works under 20 inches high as regularly as I do... I also wanted to be able to paint the bottom edges of my art-pieces with ease, so a narrow shelf was essential. 


Equipment Used
  • Handsaw
  • 2 G-Clamps (to hold wood while sawing)
  • Power drill
  • 1/2" Chisel
  • Sandpaper

Materials for Shelf Addition
  • 1"x 2" wood cut to 17" in length (a little less than the horizontal length of my easels frame)
  • Hand screw
  • tiny 0.2" screw (to screw in copper sheet over handscrew end)
  • 1.5" x 0.5" copper sheet (this is to protect the easel bar that the shelf will be screwed on to from being scratched)
  • Thick Linseed Oil for a nice finish and to protect the wood

My easel has an adjustable header that can be moved freely up and down the whole length of the easel, and be fastened in place where need be to hold artwork in place from the top. All I needed to do was copy how the header was grooved and was attached to the easels middle bar, to create the shelf I needed.

My easels adjustable header right side up.

The adjustable header (above) would still be used as usual with the new shelf, though this particular header has a thick edge that can cast quite a nasty shadow over the work underneath and also makes it difficult to paint the tops of my art-pieces.Thus I don't really use it, however it turned out to be quite useful for the mahl stick set up I was to add later - Making a Simple Mahl Stick Easel Attachment



Making The Extra Shelf

  1. After sawing my 1"x 2" wood (they call it this but in actual fact the wood it only about 0.75" x 1.65") to the length needed=17", the exact shape of the grooves of the header were copied (drawn on the wood) as a guide for shelf's groove too. I don't know if you can see from the picture below but the side edges have a slight 60 degree angle to them, which is what holds it to the middle bar of the easel (which is also shaped to fit accordingly).


  2. Carving the back of the shelf addition exactly the same as the back of my easel header.

  3. In order to fasten the shelf in place on the easel bar, I needed a handscrew like the header, lucky for me I just so happened to have a few that I could use from an old broken portable easel of mine. They were much smaller, but that was a good thing as I would be able to place boards and such in front of the shelf without the handscrew being in the way, when not in use. The header also had a thin sheet of metal covering the end of the screw to protect the bar it would be attached to from scratches.. Below as you can see I cut a piece of copper as this protective sheet (luckily found a tiny screw to screw it in place) and drilled a hole for the handscrew once the wood had been carved to shape.

    All the materials needed: Metal handscrew, tiny 0.2" screw, copper sheet (already with hole in), already carved and drilled 1"x 2" wood.

    Here you can see the slight angle of the edges of the carved groove. The handscrew is screwed in thus and the copper sheet screwed over the top of its end to prevent the easel bar it will be attached to from being scratched.

  4. At this point, all the parts were screwed in together and the shelf slide onto the easels middle bar, just to test everything was in working order.

    The back of the shelf addition with the copper sheet already screwed in, just like the header

    Before applying a finish to my new easel additions, I just made sure everything worked perfectly when assembled completely

  5. It worked perfectly, so disassembling all the parts once again, the wood was given a good sanding with nice rounded edges and then was protected with a finish of thick cheap linseed oil which was just rubbed in with a rag.
  6. Once the finish was dry, it was ready to be put back together and slide on the easel ready to use!.. 

The new shelf in use for one of my tiny ACEO's (the ACEO is really very thin so I stuck it to a slightly larger stretched canvas which was, as you can see clamped between the new shelf and upside down header)

You can check out how the mahl stick set up was made by hopping on over to my next post Making a Simple Mahl Stick Easel Attachment.



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Simple Artpaper Shelves Add On



With new changes going on at home, I took the opportunity with all the upheaval to give a fresh coat of paint and redesign both my studio and bedroom!

A little peek at the new studio look: A new neutral hue for the walls (I used Nippon:Nightingale), added shelves above my computer, converted the bottom half of my book shelf for paper roll storage and some new lighter transparent curtains to let in more light!...

I also found myself without a studio table or a place to store my artpapers flat.. Fortunately with the help of the world wide web I was able to find a really great almost new second hand Ikea Norden extendable solid wood table. 

All that was needed now was a place to store them artpapers. 
Thus my novice carpenter skills were once again pulled out and brushed off for these Really Simple Artpaper Shelves added on to the new table ! Having them be part of my studio table would not only make them super convenient but save oodles of space!

Ok they may not look that impressive but they do the job. Sherlock ever ready for some loving distraction.

I shan't be going though the WIP with as much detail as usual but it was a pretty simple process, so hopefully you can get quite a clear idea anyways..  

1. Decided to use some Ikea solid beech wood we had left over from our kitchen renovations for the shelves, as it matched the new Norden table perfectly. It was Super Hard wood though, but thanks to the lads at kerjakayu.my, their powersaw cut it in to planks in a jiffy!.. :)

My impossible first attempt at using a hand saw for the task.. Thank goodness for kerjakayu.my
Two planks were cut about 5.8 inches high, enough for two shelves of about 2 inches high each.


2. Now the only hard part, carving the end joints to fit the table legs.

It took me a full 2 days to carve all the joints of this hard wood, but depending on your physical strength or how soft/hard the wood is, you could probably do this with much less time and effort. 

3. 90 degree metal right angle brackets were then screwed in on the inside to support the plywood I would be inserting as shelves later. 
A drill was used to aid in making the holes for the screws first. I let the 2nd row of holes of the bottom shelf 90 degree brackets run off the woods edge as I thought they might be useful in the future...

4. All that was left was to drill/screw in the shelf sides that had been carved to fit on to the tables legs.

Before: The table was assembled halfway for easy drilling, before adding the sides of the shelves.
After: The shelf sides have been screwed in, the table is now ready to be assembled fully, turned over and then the plywood shelves slide in!..

5. Plywood was cut to size and just slide in over the 90 degree brackets.. The plywood does bow a little in the middle under the weight of all my artpapers, but it's still sturdy enough..



Just love how the Ikea beech wood blends perfectly with the rest of the table.

 Hopefully this helps you create your own undoubtedly better set of shelves for your artpapers!..

Thanks for dropping by!.. :)



Monday, April 18, 2016

Mince Pies 2 & 3 Watercolour Process



Did these two a while back as accompanying pieces to my first Mince Pies Watercolour.. This time round I was sure to document the process as best I could.. :)

'Mince Pies 2' Artists Watercolour on Archival Rough Heavyweight 300 gsm​
100% cotton rag Archers Watercolour Paper.
Size: 5 x 7 Inches

'Mince Pies 3' Artists Watercolour on Archival Rough Heavyweight 300 gsm​
100% cotton rag Archers Watercolour Paper.
Size: 5 x 7 Inches

First a peek at my set up..

These were done on Rough Heavyweight 300 gsm, 100% cotton rag Archers Watercolour Paper
( one of the very best types of archival watercolour papers there is !... ), thus because of its thickness no stretching was required, and I just attached the paper to a hardboard with masking tape.

I used a large round Chinese Ink Painting brush for the washes, a No.2 round sable and a No.0 synthetic brush for the details.. I've since purchased some new size 12 round synthetics that I'm excited to try for my next watercolours.. :)

 You can't see in these pics but two large glass jars with clean water were placed next to the palette (to the right, since I'm right handed) as well as a paper towel to tamp or slightly brush my brushes over, to get just the right amount of water on the brush as I painted.

Pure & premixed pigments are kept in covered small containers so no dust gets in to them between painting sessions. 

Predrawing

The preliminary drawings was done with graphite pencil, just dark enough so that the lines would not be lost too quickly in the subsequent washes..




Starting the Washes

After applying a little masking fluid for the white highlights of the sugar...

1st Layer - W&N New Gamboge (yellow)

2nd Layer - W&N Light Red

3rd Layer - W&N Intense (Phthalo) Blue + Permanent Rose




Besides laying each layer 'only' once each layer is bone dry, another tip for ensuring vibrant watercolours that I read somewhere (can't remember where) is to lay a clean wash of water first, leave to soak in, and only then lay the watercolour layer one top. As far as I remember, this was suppose to draw the paint deeper into the paper, thus ensuring even less intermingling with subsequent layers of paint. This also of course means having to wait a lot longer for each layer to dry completely.

6th Layer

6th Layer

French Ultramarine Blue was used for the table design (5th Layer) 
and then during the 6th layer another layer of W&N Intense (Phthalo) Blue + Permanent Rose (a slightly more reddish purple mixture than the last) was applied.


A thin layer of Raw Umber, then a very thin Ultramarine, finished off with a touch of Alizarin + Ultramarine to start off the yummy pie filling (below).
I try my best to keep everything loose!..


8th Layer

8th Layer

​Softened the edges with a wash of clean water all over (used a small brush to scrub at hard edges that I had missed previously), then when still slightly damp the shadows were touched up here and there with Alizarin Crimson & New Gamboge (Yellow). The table top was then strengthened in hue in some parts of the table with New Gamboge (Yellow) and a touch of Alizarin Crimson. A little more detailing of the blue pattern print was done (Ultramarine). A touch here and there of Intense (Phthalo) Blue was also used for the steel rack. Finally the shadows were darkened even more with a strong mixture of Intense (Phthalo) Blue + Permanent Rose.​

12th Layer

12th Layer

Next I'll be doing the finishing touches of deepening the red mince jam and bringing the darkest darks of the iron cooling tray and shadows! The yellows aren't quite as yellow as they look here (below) but I'll be subduing them a bit too....

The masking fluid for the sugar was removed and the edges softened..

Last few Layers

Last few Layers

In the final stages, some ultramarine washes in the darks and raw umber here and there, all over, was applied. Even more strong Alizarin Crimson for the jammy parts (with a layer of ultramarine in between) and slightly in other parts of the piece helped to create depth in the jam and unify the piece even more.


Mince Pies 2 Complete

Mince Pies 3 Complete

And that was it!... Just love pulling off the masking tape when a piece is complete, to reveal the neat sides and see the whole piece with the gorgeous serrated edged border!! (see how the pieces look with the border in the very first images above!)

Thanks for dropping by guys!..