10.15.2008

Making a French Companion Friendly

Artists with equipment like french easels also maintain a personal supply of nuts, screws, and bolts. As I mentioned before, I'm a MacGuyver type, so it suits me.

When I purchased my Richeson French Companion, I expected it to be good enough on its own if a bit of foam were added. Instead, I immediately learned that the piano hinges would bend, allowing the case to angle open at the bottom. Perhaps if the French Companion is carrying tubes of oils, it would not matter. When it is carrying loose pastels, the dozens of pieces settle to the bottom and wreck havoc on organization.

To correct the gap between the bottom and top, I decided to add latches on the bottom. It was very difficult finding hardware and these were difficult to install on this hard oak. As you can tell, this doesn't solve the complete problem, as it'll still pop open on one side sometimes.

I have a dam along the back/bottom/rear of the case, so that nothing falls out. In this photo, one is upright and one curls back over the pastels. The cat is gratitutious.
To counter the added bulk of the latches on the bottom, in order that the box would still stand upright like a briefcase, I added four knobs of my own creation. I tried using regular small knobs, but they would not screw into the oak, so I used two sizes of washers and threaded them onto wood screws.
Further, because the front lip opens with a piano hinge, I had to create a dam of foam to keep the pastels from rolling off the edge.

This was my first day working en plein air. See the pretty white foam! I lost a number of pastels to the concrete floor of that gazebo in Havre de Grace due to them rolling off the front.
This is with the dam in place, and again, with the front flipped open. It also shows the two layers of foam underneath the pastels.
Here the front piano hinge is closed and this shows the protective foam layers on top, with the lower one notched out to accommodate the dam, which is two foam layers.
All in all, I find the French Companion very workable, although relatively simple alterations were necessary. What do you find works for you?

1 comment:

congal said...

mother of invention-mother