What is a Palette/Panel Holder? The Palette/Panel Holder was first developed by Michael L. Maier, along with his partner and wife at the time, Coletta Maier (the founders and also the official "M" of Open Box M) in the late 1980's. This invention would prove to revolutionize the ability to paint en Plein Air by combining the elements of simplicity, mobility and handmade quality. The ease and portability of a Palette/Panel Holder, combined with a standard camera tripod, allowed the outdoor artists to expand their boundaries by providing a lightweight set up that addressed the shortcomings of the traditional French easel. All of our products and accessories are based around this handy little device. Although Mike has passed on, his brilliance and original concept will always live on within the design of every Palette/Panel Holder. Thank you for your dedication and inspiration, Michael L. Maier. (1953-2003) Open Box M US PATENTS: #5,348,144, #5,655,651, #5,979,855 Please click here to read more about our Palette/Panel Holders....
"Since Mike's passing last year, I am so grateful to all of you for the support and friendship you have shared so freely. What a family this group of Open Box M'ers are! Mike would love knowing that his dream will continue. We at the Open Box M will remain faithful to his vision by continuing to provide the same quality products and service you have come to know over the years. May God bless you with His Joy and Peace this day and always." -Coletta Maier
Coletta Maier quote from Open Box M 2004 Product Catalog pg. 27
Where is this equipment made? We handcraft all of our boxes here in our shop in Cody, WY, USA. We are a small shop that has dedicated itself to build the quality of equipment that a Plein Air artist can rely on and respect. Our reliable customer service to artists around the world has given us a strong reputation in the Plein Air community for almost 30 years.
What are your office hours? Our hours of operation are 9 AM - 4 PM US Mountain Time, Monday thru Friday. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask that appointments be made in advance if you would like to visit our shop.
Why does my Order Status read "Pending" after I have placed my order? Your Order Status will remain "Pending" until we have your order ready for shipment. Once we have your order completed and packaged, your Order Status will be changed to "Shipped" and Open Box M will notify you of the tracking information. For orders of our Palette/Panel Holders, Lightweight Kits and Pelican Pochade Cases, please expect 3 - 5 weeks until we have your order ready for shipment.
Do you sell in stores? No, we sell directly to our customers. Remember, our products are handmade. Selling directly to our customers ensures that they are receiving the highest quality of products and service that we can offer.
Do I have my palette/panel holder set up correctly? Just click on Set Up Instructions for a step-by-step walk through.
Why does my palette/panel holder feel unstable? It is very important to slide the aluminum side arm(s) ALL OF THE WAY OUT to form the rear triangle(s) which will give the device solid stability when in use. Loosen the thumbscrews and wing nuts on each slide-arm assembly, open the top portion to about 90 degrees, then slide the aluminum arm(s) toward the back of the Palette/Panel holder. Position the unit how you like it and then re-tighten the screws and wing nuts. To see proper set-up, please go to Set Up Instructions for step-by-step instruction. Please also note that an unstable set up could be due to a tripod that does not have at least a 10 pound load capacity to the ball head.
How do I put my panel in the panel holder? Loosen the wing nuts on the back of your panel holder and slide the brass arms out to the width of your panel. Next, bring them in a little smaller, about 1/4" LESS THAN your panel width and tighten. Then you can put the panel into the spring-loaded side first...push it out a little and drop the other side into the other arm. See also Set Up Instructions.
How do I care for my box? Your Palette/Panel holder is made from Black Walnut and Baltic Birch woods. All of the wood is hand rubbed with Danish Oil (natural color). The oil has a light Polyurethane base which gives adequate protection to the elements. You might feel it necessary to reapply oil to your Palette/Panel Holder as it ages. If you choose to reapply oil to the Palette/Panel Holder, lightly sand with 120 - 200 grit sandpaper and then apply the oil. Make sure to wipe excess oils before they are allowed to dry. All of the hardware is solid brass except the aluminum support arm(s) and the stainless steel spring that is part of the panel holding assembly. The metal parts that we make here are polished but not lacquered. You will notice that the metal will build a patina over time. You may maintain the "new" look yourself with a brass polishing substance, if desired. We feel it is nice to get an aged look to the brass along with an aged look to the palette. Over time, your box will begin to take on a character of its own, making it truly a "one of a kind" tool.
Do I need to do anything to my palette before I put paint on it? No, just lay out your palette and paint! Some artists like to have a piece of glass specially cut to put in the palette area rather than using the Baltic Birch as a mixing surface. If you choose to do this, a bead of silicone in each corner of the palette area should be sufficient for holding the glass in place. You don't want to use too much glue when gluing the glass to the palette because using too much glue will make the glass more difficult to remove, should it ever break.
How do I care for my palette? After a painting outing and before closing your palette, scrape off excess paint in the mixing area with a palette knife or flat razor blade (going left to right, with the grain of the wood) and then wipe the palette mixing area down with turpentine or other brush washing solvent by using a rag or recycled towels. You will notice that the oil paint will begin to absorb into the grain of the wood and eventually a nice patina will build up on your palette area. The most important thing to remember is to not allow excess paint to dry in the palette mixing area. Some artists will have a piece of glass cut that will take up the inside of the palette area. If you choose to do this, a dab of silicone in each corner will be sufficient to hold the glass down. Some artists like to add more protection to the palette area prior to first use. If you do this, first lightly sand the palette area (with about 120 grit sandpaper) and then apply the substance and follow the directions for applying whatever substance is being used.
What kind of tripod can I use? Any sturdy 35 mm camera tripod will work. We recommend using a tripod that has at least a 10 lb. load capacity to the ball head and also a quick release plate. Currently, we supply only one model of tripod. The Manfrotto MT190X3 tripod with the Manfrotto 496 Ball head and quick release plate can be found here.
Can Open Box M repair my equipment? YES! We believe that our customers deserve a lifetime of support for the equipment that they use. The equipment is handmade, so we are able to repair MOST used Open Box M products for the lifetime of the product. Simply, visit our Repairs page, fill out the form on the bottom of the page and then add your repair option to the checkout cart. Return fees will have to be negotiated for INTERNATIONAL repairs prior to sending us the repair. Please contact us before sending us your equipment. Also, please make sure that the return shipping information is included somewhere inside of the package so that we can get the repaired product sent back within a reasonable amount of time.
How long does it take to get my order? Generally, anywhere from 1 - 5 weeks. We are a small company that produces handcrafted equipment. Feel free to contact us for expected delivery times.
How many 37ml tubes of paint will fit in my Pelican box?
What sizes can I paint with each box? The smallest width of panel or canvas that any of our Palette/Panel Holders will hold is 5". There is not any vertical limitation with our design. An Artist may be able to fit a slightly larger panel or canvas than what is noted below by putting more tension on the spring arm. The more tension that the spring has, the tighter it will "grip" the edges. We recommend not allowing the spring to expand more than 1 inch, although 1/4 inch seems sufficient for most applications.
Palette/Panel Holders accommodate: 8x10 - maximum width panel 15.5" 10x12 - maximum width panel 17.5" 11x14 - maximum width panel 19.5" 12x16 - maximum width panel 24"
Do you sell panels? No, but we highly recommend contacting the professionals at SourceTek for quality, made in USA panels.
Handmade quality takes time...
We are a small shop that specializes in handmade products. Due to a high demand, orders for our Palette/Panel Holders, Lightweight Kits and Pelican Pochade Cases are usually shipped 3 - 4 weeks after an order has been placed.