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Travel Tips: DIY Wet Panel Box

melissa-fusco-0By Melissa Fusco
For those of us who may have the chance of painting away from our home studio’s, you may find this box to be handy for carrying wet panels. The summer of 2011, I attended a week-long landscape painting workshop in the wet lands of New Jersey and built a more simple wet panel box for my everyday travel. I kept the box in my truck and was able to transport wet panels from the days location to my accommodations, where I continued working on each piece. Instead of the Jenga-like game of panel stacking while on the road, and the stress of limiting the fix-ups that may need tending to due to all the movement, or worse… ruining a piece all together; here’s an inexpensive, custom and rewarding project that can be used for multiple trips… 

I just returned from the Paradise Artist Retreat in New Mexico, and this box really came in handy for all the art work that was created during the week. Other artists liked it so I thought to share how to make one yourself!

melissa fusco tattoo artist colorado peacock tattoomelissa fusco artist peacock feathers tattoomelissa fusco in progress phoenix tattoomelissa fusco steampunk bee poppy flower honey comb tattoo

All items can be found at your local art supplier and depending on size, for less the $25 dollars. Making a wet panel box yourself allows you to be able to customize it to the size of the panels you wish to use and how many you wish to bring. This box is not limited to panel use, you can surely build one for 1/4-1/2 inch stretched canvas, just depends on your preference. Obviously the size of the box is customized for your use. I will show you step-by-step how to build one for yourself, and what supplies are needed. It will take you a few hours if you don’t super glue your fingers together!

My dimensions for this box will be sized to fit linen panels 14 x 18″ and 11 x 14″ panels, with one canvas board in the back. Notice that in my size choices I picked two different sizes, allowing me to use one side at 14″ stacking the panels portrait and landscape without compromising the fit. Before you head to the art supply store, make sure you know your dimensions of your panels/canvases in order to know how much supplies you are going to need.

STEP 1: Supplies

1 painting box supplies

  • 1/2 inch foam board
  • 1/4″ 3 foot SQUARE wooden dowel sticks
  • Yard stick
  • Duck Tape (get fancy with it)
  • Fresh razor blade/box cutter
  • Super glue large bottle
  • Velcro
  • Pointy marker
  • Work table
  • Your panels you wish to fill the box with for size reasons

STEP 2: Measuring the Width and Height

2 measuring the width

  • First off this is really important, BEFORE YOU CUT YOUR FOAM BOARD make sure you measure the foam board front and back to fit your panels adding 1/4″ extra width for wiggle room (the 1/4 rods you’re going to put on either side will hold in the panels). MAKE the box taller by an inch, allowing room for the lid and wiggle room, but obviously not wider or else your panels wouldn’t stay behind the dowels. The foam board bottom, and sides must sit on the outside for better support and strength. In this photo you will see how I stacked all the goods so that I could measure how deep the sides and how long the bottom should be. I also added an extra inch or so for wiggle room on the sides, this allowed 2 panels to sit back to back comfortably if needed… (dang it, that’s smart!!) I would NOT have them fit tightly.

STEP 3: Measure for the Slots

3 measure the slots

  • Now that you have cut all your foam board, front and back should be the same, sides should also be the same, and the bottom just a hair longer to cover the side walls. Next, measure where the front and back are going to come into contact with each side wall, (1/2 inch on either side) I was able to cut my dowel rods exactly in half (they are soft so a razor cuts them smoothly) and I laid them out on the side wall, with how many I needed and adjusted them for wiggle room. My dowel rods ended up being 3/4″ apart from each other. This allowed one panel to sit really comfortably, but also two panels could go back to back if needed. Measure your marks, draw your lines, center the dowel rods with super glue. The sides should mirror image themselves (remember to leave an inch space up top for the trap door)****

STEP 4: Tape on Walls and Bottom

4 super glue rails

  • Now that all the dowels are super glues onto the side walls, (and not your fingers) it’s time to get some scissors and the fancy duck tape, and put everything together. Start one side at a time,(remember the sides go on the outside of the box) they should fit the front and back just perfectly! Don’t go crazy with the duck tape just one strip on each joint to hold it together as you work all four corners.

STEP 5: Tape Base and Add More Tape for Strength

5 duck tape the sides & bottom

  • Look at that, all the walls are together, time to put on the bottom. This step will make it extra secure. After you wrap four pieces of tape around all four joints of the base, NOW you can add more duck tape, get crafty with it. Slice the corners like a stencil. Wrap one piece of duck tape all the way around each joint from top front to top back, etc. DON’T finish all the duck tape…

STEP 6: Finish Box

finished box

  • Finally time to put a lid on it. Measure the opening at the top, cut it out. Duck tape the edges nicely. Tape it to the box on the inside and the outside like a hinge. fold over a piece of duck tap on the lip of the lid, and add your Velcro! Almost done! I put stickers on the front and the top to decipher the ends. And there ya go! Now you are ready to travel with as much wet paintings as you planned for, and don’t have to worry too much for their safety.

This box really is sturdy, light and should last a few trips. Obviously it is foam board, but the 1/2 inch foam board is pretty tough… though if not too careful it will get dinged or puncture if it falls over. Until then, have fun! Hope this comes in handy for all of the traveling painters out there. Feel free to share your wet panel box if you get around to building one! I would love to see it! Pull this blog and save it for your future use! You won’t regret it…

~Melis
artbymelis@gmail.com

Melissa Fusco can be found at http://missmelis.com/.

Read more from Melissa below:

Melissa Fusco: A Common Bond

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