Mini Watercolor Palette with Extend-a-Brush

Feeling a bit manic today, I made myself a miniature watercolor palette for out on the trail! I even made my own “extend-a-brush” and bound a little book of watercolor paper.

The palette box is made from a small tin which originally contained mints. It measures about 1.5 x 2 inches. I made the paint wells from the caps of several tubes of lip balm and cork grease, sawed in half and glued in. On the inside of the lid I decoupaged a piece of white paper to use as my mixing surface. All in all the palette weighs 0.9 ounces, empty. I wonder how much weight the paint will add (I have to wait until the glue dries to try).


For the brush I measured the width of the palette box and sawed a watercolor brush into two little pieces accordingly. I winced when sawing my watercolor squirrel-haired brush into little bits. I have a lot of respect for my tools and this is not how one should treat them! But I kept reminding myself it is for a cause. And this brush is only a back up to my favorite. And this way I would put it to good use. And eek! Anyways after I sawed it up and recovered from the guilt and trauma I hollowed out both the cut ends of the brush handle and inserted a jewelry clasp: the kind that has a little screw. In what I perceived to be a stroke of genius, I came up with the idea to use this clasp to join two pieces of handle together, so here’s hoping it works! My finishing touch was to sand the cut end of the brush nice and round. The “extend-a-brush” with screws weighs 0.1 ounce. Light as a feather!

P1130360For the book I used a 9 x 12″ sheet of 90 lb cold pressed watercolor paper. I chopped it up into 8 pieces of 3 x 4.5″ and bound them together with some of the strong thread we sewed the tarp, etc., with. I used the Chinese book binding technique. It is a soft cover book to save on weight and I used some vellum that I had handy as the cover. The book weighs 0.5 ounces.


Background artwork by Gabriel

 It is hard to say without the paint how much lighter this set up will be from my last field set up, but all together it weighs 1.5 ounces whereas what I used on our Combs’ Peak trek weighed 8.7 ounces. Ultralight? Maybe…??? Compact at least.


After waiting an additional day for the acrylic gloss medium and varnish to dry (used to water seal the mixing surface and the seams in the paint wells that didn’t have bottoms because they were the top portion of the caps sawed), I have since generously filled the palette with paint. Now the palette weighs a hefty 1.1 ounce from 0.9 ounce. Not much difference! Yet I am encouraged to paint- the more I paint the lighter it will become even if only by a feather or two!

From left to right, top to bottom: Cobalt Blue, Phthalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Aureolin, Viridian, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Rose Madder, Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Red.