Monday, February 20, 2012

Box Wars

Guerrilla Pastel Carrier - Judson's

Dakota Deluxe Traveler

To be ready for many upcoming road and air trips, I decided to upgrade my travel system for carrying the sticks.  Now I own one each from the two competitors, the Judson's Guerrilla Pastel Carrier and the Dakota Pastel Carrier. I have already taken the Judson's box on one trip to California.  It worked brilliantly as a carry-on and did the job of protecting and organizing my pastels.   

One thing I liked better about the Judson product is the long, narrow aspect of the box.  It fits better on my Mabef Field Easel, given that the narrow box allows me to stand closer to the task, and seems plenty stable.

The plastic inserts are a good idea, but I always vote for wood over plastic.  Call me an aesthete, but wood is gentle on the soft pastels.  Plastic attracts dust and hair, and is, well, cheesy.  But, I allowed that a guy could ditch the plastic boxes if he needed to.  These plastic boxes are well made, and I really enjoy the finger hole cutout design. The Judson boxes (I have a ThumBox that I took to Italy) are light and strong.  They have heirloom-quality niceness.

Next, I bought the product from Dakota Pastels, who are my favorite cataloger for pastel needs.  The Deluxe Traveler is a thick, beefy, Beech wood box.  I chose the smaller size of two options, to save space when I go by air.

The Dakota product uses the older method of securing the sticks under a foam-lined lid which is held down by thumb swivel latches.  I have seen artists who lose these over time, so that is one of my theoretical problems with the design.  Can't complain about the quality, though.  Always top notch from Dakota.

Usually my Dakota cartons arrive from across state in superior condition.  They positively know how to pack pastels, paper and equipment the right way.  Except this time, they didn't!  The box was slightly too shallow to accommodate the pastel carrier, and so one end of the shipping carton was caved-in a little.  The worse thing is when your pastels are floating around in transit, which is the way I found my new Senneliers (on sale this month in open stock). The tape had come unhinged and the Sennie boxes were loose in the carton. Fortunately, the three-per boxes, which are foam lined, did the job of protecting my new sticks.

After the next couple of trips, I will let you know how these pastel carriers perform.  I know I'll be having fun using these great pastel boxes!


zwzwzw said...

I found that the Dakota box would unhinge without warning and my pastels would spill out, so I stopped using it. I now use either a Heilman backpacker, or the smaller All in One pastel box. Both have enough room from loads of pastels,and the All in One holds my paper. With a super lightweight tripod, I am completely portable, and under 8 pounds.

Something I learned from Terri Ford about traveling by air with pastels - she breaks her pastels in half, then packs them in the larger lightweight cardboard containers such as Sennelier or Unison have. She can get in about 120-150 half sticks. These can travel safely through TSA exams and stay with her as carryon, as they are so lightweight. She puts the box these across her French easel, or whatever easel she is using.


Casey Klahn said...

That's a reminder to me. When I traveled with the one box I put a keeper strap around it. Never trust! The hinged levers feel pretty tight, but I guess an impact could loosen that.

I must be organized when I get on sight, and couldn't use foam lined boxes for that reason. Many of these are halves, but I find that Sennies don't break as well, so I am taking them full sized. I chose the best brands, or my favorites, in order to make the best works I can.

Unknown said...

I agree with the practice of a pochade - mine is the smaller All in One - and an additional carrier to allow for a broader selection of colors. I liked Casey's review of the Guerilla Pastel carrier and boxes, so I did some research. Then I bought the carrier and 8 of the plastic boxes so I can change them out quickly. In case you have not heard of an Easel Butler, it is worth investigating. The EB is a super lightweight easel shelf system for a tripod and it fits into a nylon carrier the size of a travel umbrella. The Guerilla lays open and flat right on the EB. I would say that I now have all the advantage of a full size pochade without the issue of reaching across a giant palette.