Pimp my altoid tin

February 28, 2011 in sketchbook by amy

So with the Taos trip only a couple of months away, (check out the countdown here) I am trying to get more on-the-go drawing and watercoloring in to stay current and well exercised in that department.  I have a fascination (ok, obsession) with packing light, especially when it comes to the day to day.  I carry a messenger bag around as a purse of sorts but really it’s filled more with art supplies.  When I go out for a day dedicated to drawing I have no problem taking my travel watercolor set and a wee pencil case with glue, tape, white gouache, pencils, pens, extra brushes of different sizes, etc, along with a sketchbook (or 2) .  But during my regular life, that bag can get a little cumbersome with all of those supplies so I will often leave some supplies at home.  This makes for not enough drawing in the sketchbook, and when the drawing does happen, it lacks the life of spontaneous watercolor.

Enter the teeny weeny altoid tin travel watercolor set…..

There are plenty of sites online that approach the construction of this handmade watercolor set in a variety of ways across a spectrum of complexity.  I have trolled them by the dozens and below is my version of how to make one.  I encourage you to google “altoid watercolor set” and see what comes up as one of the other methods might be more up your alley.  Here goes….

Start with a teeny altoid tin.  If you go with the average sized tin, you might as well stick with the travel set from the art store.  This little thing is just over 2 inches wide at its widest point.  Teeny.

Use some sculpey clay or some other bake-able substance to create little wells that will contain the watercolors.

Bake the wells into the tin per the package directions on the clay.

Once good and cool, paint the interior of your new set with a high gloss rustoleum paint to provide you with a small pallete in the lid of the tin and a water tight place for your paints.

Next, select some tube watercolors to use.  I had a set laying around of medium quality watercolors so I just used them.   These paints will work almost as well as a typical student grade set of the dry paints will, you just might have to work them a little to get them to give up their pigment.  The colors I chose are: Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine, Crimson, Burnt Sienna, and Sap Green.  Fill the wells.

Stir in a little water to each well and allow to dry.

My on-the-go watercolor set up used to look like this (and will for the Taos trip)

But for the day to day, all I really need is my sketchbook, the altoid w.c. set, a pen or pencil and my Koi watercolor brush (which avoids needing a cup of water to clean my brush).  It’s also good to have a cloth or tissue handy too for switching colors.

What does your on-the-go art supply stash look like?

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