Over the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting a few pieces of studio equipment that I simply can not do without. First up is a simple tool that most painters make use of, a mahl stick.
Traditionally, a mahl stick is just a dowel with a ball of leather tied around one end. For those of you unfamiliar with the tool, it is simply a means by which to steady your hand, while avoiding the surface of a wet painting. The leather tip ensures you don't scratch your work surface.
My easel has canvas bracers that can be flipped upside-down, which make for nice rail supports. I decided to take advantage of this feature by designing a hands free mahl stick. All it is is a basic dowel attached to a wooden 'hook' by means of a wing nut. I then cut an 'x' shape into the hook (with a dado blade) so that the dowel can pivot. By tightening the wing nut, I can lock the stick at certain angles.
It may not seem like a big deal, but having a free hand to answer the phone, hold reference, wipe my brushes, or drink while I work is a major help.
Obviously not every easel is designed the same as mine, so this design may not work for everyone. Instead, consider Donato's alternative, which is a simple piece of wood attached to a c-clamp. Since it is an actual clamp, instead of a hook, it has the advantage of attaching to just about any work surface.
Up next, on Studio Equipment: Part 2... sound systems and shotguns.