Friday, August 24, 2012


I recently made a small watercolor box to take outside with my sketchbook during lunch. I made it out of an  older Altoids tin with a smooth top; newer ones have the name embossed on the lid. I had a bunch of tubes of Winsor & Newton watercolors at home, otherwise I would have just bought a set.  I used a section of a mini ice cube tray for the wells, chopping it off a with a Dremel tool. It's an extremely tight fit, and probably wouldn't need any glue to hold it in;  I glued it in anyway. I sprayed the lid with white appliance epoxy paint.

Altoids Tin Watercolor Box

It's a nice accompaniment for the cigar box pochade I made last year for small oil sketches. The box cost $1.00 at a local cigar shop and the palette and brush holder were made from scraps of 1/8" plywood that I had in the garage. I glued some 1/4 round molding to the palette so it snaps onto the side of the box without any screws. The brush holder is held on by a small thumbscrew with a plastic knob, and a box lid support keeps the box open if it gets windy. A 6x8" panel is held in place by a piece of spring steel from a picture frame, even when the lid is closed. A 1/4-20 nut in a small block of wood connects it to a tripod. I painted the inside of the box, and added a piece of glass for my dabs of paint. I found a small US Army map pouch at a surplus store that fits the box perfectly. It also holds a mini tripod that I got at the local Big Lots store, but that one is a bit flimsy, so I use a regular one most of the time.

Cigar Box Pochade mounted on a tripod.

This is the box I used for my pochade.

U.S. Army map pouch

Bottom of Palette

Everything but a full size tripod fits in the bag. 


  1. Nice! Where did you find the mini ice cube tray? I made a similar one with a mint box and used fimo to make the paint pots, making the little holes with a lipstick top. But the process was a little tedious.

    1. I found them on Amazon: but I'd look at a dollar store before I ordered them, if I were you. I only needed part of one tray. Another idea I've used on a mini Altoids tin to get empty half pans from the local art supply store (it holds 5 pans- a good limited palette).