Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Pochade Box from a Cigar Box

  Recently I've had an interest to create a small pochade box from a cigar box. I have a simple one that a friend had given me a while back, but I wanted to modify one that would be a more versatile and would be able to accommodate my interests for both oil painting and watercolor painting. I don't consider myself "handy" but I learned a lot as I went along. Here are some pictures of what I came up with.

   I looked at a number of sites and blogs that featured cigar boxes and had information on how to convert the cigar box into a small pochade boxes. What renewed my interest was a book another friend had lent me. This was a book about painting from the plein air painter, Trevor Chamberlain. He was using a box that was designed for 19th century painters and that were not really made any more. It was much better design than the ones offered in the art stores today.

The neutral gray palette is thin Plexiglas that I use for oil painting

   I sought out many cigar shops in the area for discarded empty cigar boxes. They either gave them away or asked for a couple of dollars for them. Looking at some other examples; I found that I needed to know more about the hardware and assembling it.

Underneath the gray palette is the setup I use for watercolor.

   I used metal brackets and wing nuts on both sides for lid support and adjustable angles for the oil panels or watercolor boards. I added screws and nails to the top to serve as guides and slots to keep two panels for storage with separation. I also applied three coats of lacquer on the entire box inside and out. A metal hinge was added to the left side to keep it closed and secure. The top lid lip was cut out so the two 6" x 8" boards can slide in and out. The is a leather strap which has Velcro glued is attached so the boards will not slide out when moved.

   I cut down brushes and the brush holder as well as different watercolor trays. I also bought empty half pans and filled them with paint. The palettes were then glued with superglue to Plexiglas for easy removal.

   This box is great for painting small and if you don't want to draw a lot of attention to yourself. I found that using it in the car is a real advantage. Also it is easy to take on trips and I put it in my backpack on our trip to the southwest.

   Please contact if your interested in more about it.


  1. Thank you, I'm collecting info for making a cigar box/pochade box for gouache and your plan of removing the front of the lid really makes sense for me.

  2. Love this setup! Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I'd be interested to know if you sell them as well.