The Easel Butler Tripod Shelf
Max, The Easel Butler is an indispensable tool for anyone who wants a lightweight pastel set up that uses a tripod. It was designed by Canadian artist Dianna Ponting, whose award-winning pastels are renowned for the their realism and detail. Made of lightweight aluminum, and weighing only 12 ounces, this easy to use tripod shelf system is designed to hold heavy pastel boxes at a height convenient for the user. It packs into it’s own compact carrying case to a mere 14” by 1.5” in diameter.
The top photo shows the Easel Butler attached to a tripod. The bottom right photo shows three Butlers attached to the same tripod — not something you would want to do, but it demonstrates the various positions you can choose from dependnign on which holes you put the arms through. The bottom left photo show all the parts — very compact and lightweight.
If your pastel box locks into an open position (like the Heilman), you simply place the box on the cross arms. If your pastel box doesn’t lock at the hinge, then you’ll have to place a support board beneath the box. I’ve used the thin board that covers the pastels in each side of the box as my support board, or you could carry a lightweight piece of coroplast (corrugated plastic), gator board, or other rigid board to span the arms and support the box. I’ve also wrapped a bungee cord around the center of my box and attached to the tripod to prevent the box from getting knocked off the arms. The manufacturer also recommends a counterweight be placed on the leg not used by the Easel Butler to keep it from tipping over. They suggest a large bottle of water or a bag filled with rocks or sand be used as the counterweight. Mounting your pastel box on the Easel Butler, instead of on a tripod connection at the tip of your tripod, adds great stability and reduces the chance of the catastrophic pastel box crash.
If you use the Butler, you’ll need something that attaches to the top of the tripod to hold your pastel panel. For this I suggest the Heilman Easel with the easel adapter that allows it to be attached to your tripod instead of inserted into the pastel box. Presumably, you could sit in front of your tripod, with the box mounted on the easel butler at counter top level and using the Heilman easel inserted into a Hielman box, but the tripod might interfere with your pastel board if you’re painting large.
The Easel Butler has its own Facebook page, with lots of photos showing how artists are using it. It’s manufactured and sold in Canada, but you can buy it in the U.S. and avoid the costly shipping from Canada. You can purchase Max from The Artists Road Store http://theartistsroad.net/store for $39.95 plus shipping.
Here’s my pastel box sitting on an Easel Butler that has been covered with a piece of corrugated plastic. I’m using a magnet board of my own design to hold my pastel support. Works pretty well. — Patty