First off, a very warm welcome to the many new followers that have recently signed up to follow my adventures with watercolour. Just so you know what you’ve signed up for, I endeavor to put out a weekly post, normally on a Tuesday and, as the title hopefully suggests, it will usually be about the highs and lows of my efforts to master this most brilliant and frustrating of mediums.
I can also be found on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – but I do like to think of this blog and site as my home. So, please do make yourselves comfortable and have a good look around – it’s great to have you visit.
For more regular readers wondering what on earth’s going on, allow me to explain. I had on Monday the surprising and delightful good fortune be featured as a WordPress Editors’ Picks for my post Watercolour Duet. This is particularly thrilling because, as well as introducing me and my work to lots of new people, the Discover blog describes itself as:
So, thanks to WordPress, especially Michelle W for selecting my post, and to all of you for your likes and for following – it means so much to me and, over the coming days, I’m looking forward to visiting all of your blogs.
On with the show
Unfortunately, opportunities for painting have been few and far between this week. I do have a ‘work in progress’ but I didn’t want to show you this as I can’t tell yet whether this particular painting is progressing towards a frame or the bin – it really could go either way.
However, with every cloud comes a silver lining. This week’s silver lining is that with no painting to talk about, I can properly introduce the latest addition to my ever expanding collection of watercolor palettes: The Frazer Price Palette Box.
I came across this sketchers’ palette quite accidentally and had never heard of the make before. The fact that it was brass, boasted enameled mixing surfaces, and like nothing else I’d seen before certainly got my attention – especially because I know how highly regarded and renowned the brass palettes of Craig Young and House of Hoffman are.
Below is my pictoral step by step opening of the Frazer Price Palette Box:
The box comes complete with it’s own water wells, one for washing brushes out, one for clean water and, the two mixing areas next to the water wells, are depressions on the side of a small water container.
All in all it’s a beautifully made and well considered item. Despite much searching, I could find out very little about this until I stumbled across some links that took me to a discussion on ‘Painters Online’ – where the actual maker of this palette box had posted the following information:
Posted: 27 May 2011 11:30 AM
Subject: RE: watercolour palettes
I have recently read the group’s comments on palette boxes and mention was made of the Frazer Price Palette Box – probably time that I enter the forum as I am Frazer Price. I designed and had the box manufactured, in Shropshire, and first came on sale in 1985 and continued to be marketed until the early ’90s.
The box came into being because of my frustration with what was available for the travelling watercolourist. I was a publisher and whilst I was travelling extensively for Newsweek I would find time to sketch in one country before spending endless hours on my way to the next port of call and decided my time could be usefully spent by painting on the plane. I had a Gabbi box which was Ok but with only a curtain ring as a holding device it was uncomfortable. Therefore, over time, I designed a lacquered brass bijou type box just over 4″ long, under 3″ wide and 2″ deep. The inside pieces were made from washable plastic with room for 18 half pans or with slides for paint from tubes, a water bottle and a divided reservoir for clean and dirty water. Two fold out enamel mixing trays one with a thumb hole enabling the box to be held comfortably as as a palette. It was launched in the Leisure Painter in 1985 and the advertisements had an endorsement by Rowland Hilder-the only time the great man endorsed anything- the selling price was £28.95 and with a couple of price increases it was marketed until ’93/4 selling over 5000 boxes worldwide. It was also branded and marketed by Talens and Daniel Smith in the States.
A point of interest when the box was first produced- the prototype costing £1,400.- I offered it to Windsor and Newton who initially showed great interest but then pulled out as they considered the box too ‘glamorous’ but asked if I would mind if they produced a plastic box based loosely on the FP box. I had no desire to go into mass production – hence the Cotman box arrived on the scene.
If any of you have archive copies of Leisure Painter you might read an excellent critique by Ray Campbell Smith in the December ’85 issue.
All that’s left now are a dozen boxes for the grandchildren and posterity. All my painting comes from the Frazer Price Palette Box and if you have the time click onto http://www.frazerprice.shutterfly.com and you’ll see it at work!
I hope this answers some queries and thank you for getting to this far.”
The one I purchased was still in its original box, and with its original receipt – indicating that it had been purchased for £35 (reduced from £39!)- which would suggest mine was one of the more recent early 90s models, but still over 20 years old!
Needless to say I’m chuffed to bits with this wonderful piece of craftsmanship and watercolor memorabilia. I was initially torn between using this, or just putting it out on display somewhere… but that really isn’t in my nature! So far I’ve filled it with paints and have done some little exercises in an A6 notebook, so not a proper road test, but it feels great to hold and the enameled mixing surfaces area a joy to mix on.
I’ll hopefully be able to use it more thoroughly in the week’s ahead but in the meantime, I’m really excited about this new palette addition. Who knows… it might be the last one I need to make!
Would love to hear from anyone else that has one of these, or if anyone’s seen anything similar, or just to find out what your favorite palette is?
In the meantime, thanks again to all of you for following my efforts and I hope to return again next week with a painting or two to show you.