Anyone can make their own pochade box - very few tools of any kind required - plus, it's really fun.
Wooden cigar boxes make a great starting point for making your own very simple, cheap and fun little pochade box for plein air painting.
Made out of light weight wood, cigar boxes come in many different shapes and sizes. So you will need to be flexible depending on what size and shape you find.
In searching for my cigar box for this project, I went to my local thrift store and prowled the aisles full of used breadmakers, mugs, plates and cutlery. I found my box after only 10 minutes of searching. You can also find them at your local cigar store or liquor store. Expect to pay $2 or $5 for your box.
Here is a photo of it as it was before I "converted" it to an artist's traveling paint box or pochade. It also has a nice deep box which will be ideal for storing tubes of paint and other stuff. This will act as "ballast" to anchor the box firmly while painting with it.
The opened lid will be perfect for small canvas panels mounted on board of either 5" x 7" or 4" x 6" or even 5" x 5" in size.
As the hinges on the cigar box aren't really built to take a lot of pressure I decided to get 4 small brass braces to create support for the lid while open. I found the small brass braces at my local hardware store. Check out the next photo to see how I secured it to the box-body and lid of the cigar box. I joined 2 braces with a butterfly wing nut and screw to act as a hinge. This allows one to change the angle of the open lid (your easel) to suit you.
Next I prepared the box-body so that I can place a small "palette" in it. Paint tubes are stored underneath the little palette while painting. The extra weight provides stability to the table easel setup.
To create a resting place for the palette, I took wooden chopsticks which I found in my kitchen (left over from some Chinese takeout meal) and cut the chopsticks into 4 pieces each uniform in length. As my particular cigar box is 2.5" deep this will allow a 1" deep space for the "palette" once it is inserted.
I glued one piece of cut wooden chopstick vertically into each of the 4 sides of the cigar box - check out the next photo to see what it looks like after glue has dried.
This now creates a resting place for our little "palette".
To create my tiny palette, I cut one of my small plein air painting panels to the right size so that it can drop onto the top of the box. I also added an eye screw to make it easy to pick up the palette and remove it. In addition, I took a wine cork, cut it in half lengthwise and shortened it to make a perfect resting place for the small painting panels. I glued the cork pieces to the lid with Elmers glue. See next photo for that phase.
At this point, we are almost done! See photos of the cunning little cheap cigar pochade box in use - It cost me all of $11.00 plus about 2 hours of my time to make this and it was a lot of fun. I have used this box on a recent road trip - see photo of it "in use" while sitting on the tailgate of my vehicle.
Contact us with any other good ideas you have tried when making your own version of the Cigar Pochade Box.