Portrait Artist Forum

Portrait Artist Forum (http://portraitartistforum.com/index.php)
-   Studio & Equipment (http://portraitartistforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=19)
-   -   Easel with pulley system (http://portraitartistforum.com/showthread.php?t=9369)

Jean Kelly 02-08-2010 11:44 PM

Easel with pulley system
Hi all, I know it's been a long time. I've had a major health setback and now after a new injury am in need of an easel that the painting can be easily moved, at a reasonable price. Has anyone bought the Sorg easel lately?

The state of Wisconsin seems to want to keep me painting, so are assisting me with bracing etc. This is a godsend for me as I recover from another major injury that finally got me my diagnoses of ehlers-danlos hypermobility syndrome.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I've missed this place but visit as I can and hope to start posting paintings again soon!!!

Jean Kelly

Terri Ficenec 02-09-2010 12:59 AM

Jean hi!

No experience with the easel, but it's good to hear from you & happy that you'll likely be able to continue painting -- Always been a fan of your work!

Sending thoughts and prayers your way for a speedy recovery and hoping that having a diagnosis makes it easier to manage for you?

Richard Monro 02-09-2010 07:57 AM

I have not tried the Sorg but opted instead for the Hughes easel. The Hughes easels are a little more expensive but very easy to move vertically and horizontally.


Jean Kelly 02-09-2010 01:42 PM

Thank you Terri, right now I can paint about 20 minutes at a time, then break and come back when I can. It's been landscapes for a while now, they can be looser! Painting is part of my PT, so I have no choice (haha).

Thank you for the link Richard, I'd love the Hughes easel, but was trying to save some money. They are investing quite a bit in me, and it needs to go a long way. I need to prioritize what is the most important for my comfort and needs. I know the Sorg is not produced by David anymore, and it certainly is cheaper. But will it do the job?


Richard Bingham 02-09-2010 06:15 PM

For any of us,choosing an easel should be determined primarily by our working requirements. If you often paint massive canvases 8 to 10 feet on a side and work in a warehouse loft or studio with 15' or more overhead, your easel will need to be very different from the one a painter working in a spare room with 8' ceilings may find entirlely adequate, especially if he rarely paints a piece larger than 18x24".

Stability and adjustability are the most important features in either case.

Perusing current offerings in today's market, high quality and moderate price appear to be irreconcilable goals. Actually, high quality at any price becomes questionable if one looks objectively at the poverty of functional design in some of the pricey easels. Engineering and mechanical principles seem to have been entirely overlooked.

The capability of an easel to move the workpiece sideways is questionable. Even painters confined to wheel-chairs can negotiate that limited movement. Designs that employ pulleys and boat-winches as a lifting mechanism are laughable. The cording stretches and can let the tray down with a sudden jolt when wrapped unevenly on the winch drum.

Bevel gears operating Acme-thread screws have been the ultimate refinement in easel lift mechanisms for over a century. They are positive, reliable, infinitely adjustable and easy to operate. . . but such hardware is expensive.

Mechanisms that rely on screwing friction clamps tightly enough to hold the easel in adjustment are best relegated to hobbyists who do not paint daily. A cheaper but effective step down from gears and screws is a ratchet bar for positioning the tray, but that limits the easel's top capacity to some extent, requiring the painter to dead-lift the tray and workpiece in order to raise it.

The wood used is definitely a consideration for easel designs employing wooden members that slide on each other. Obviously, fine-grained, very hard woods will give better service over a longer period, where poplar, pine, or soft import woods simply wear out in time.

If one has access to tools, some ability working with wood, and ample time to invest some "sweat equity", the best value for the best result is to build your own easel. For $600 or less, you could end with an easel better than anything offered at $3k and more.

Jean Kelly 02-09-2010 11:39 PM

Hi Richard,

I need something that can be easily adjusted as I have a 2lb. weight restriction right now for lifting. My coffee cup weighs more than that! Doc's don't want me doing any actions involving twisting, lifting, or exceeding the normal range of movement. Something I have to be taught (movement retraining).

Making my own is out of the question, but your suggestions on wood and the availability of a high quality but affordable cost make sense. I know a carpenter but he would need coaching and plans (and is quite ornery right now).

I need some help to understand this part of your message:

"Bevel gears operating Acme-thread screws have been the ultimate refinement in easel lift mechanisms for over a century. They are positive, reliable, infinitely adjustable and easy to operate. . . but such hardware is expensive."

Where and in what products is this system available? You can pm me if you wish. I don't work super large although I would like to. The largest would be 60"x80".

Thank you for your feedback,

Jean Kelly 02-09-2010 11:41 PM


I did e-mail the Hughes company about their easels. We will see what comes of it. Thanks


Marvin Mattelson 02-10-2010 12:49 AM


Originally Posted by Richard Bingham
For $600 or less, you could end with an easel better than anything offered at $3k and more.

With all due respect Richard this just isn't true. I have a Hughes Easel. I am a pretty skillful woodworker, yet I couldn't begin to approach the quality and efficiency of the Hughes Easel. Factor in the time I'd have to spend building it and it would cost me many many thousands of $$$ in time. Prior to purchasing this easel I had a custom built oak easel with a worm gear that I grew to hate more each passing day. It seemed I spent more time cranking that painting. Now I paint much more efficiently.

With the Hughes easel I can focus solely on painting. It's the last easel I would ever buy. Don has created the ultimate easel. I think that you couldn't find a better easel at any price. Maybe if you tell him your story he may be able to do something. Good luck to you Jean.

Jean Kelly 02-10-2010 11:14 AM

Hi Richard B. The easel I have now is a bevel and crank studio easel. The first thing my OT looked at was the easel, and he immediately commented: "You need an easel with a pulley system." No more lifting, cranking, removing paintings to adjust etc. So I think I already have what you are talking about.

Thank you Marvin, for your input here. I e-mailed the contact info for my caseworkers to the Hughes Co. and hopefully they will be willing to work things out. I don't look "disabled" but am 100% now. Too much damage due to not being diagnosed by the geneticist I saw 18 years ago. But I've been managing this for so many years by myself that I'm determined to keep painting no matter what I have to do!


Richard Bingham 02-10-2010 03:05 PM


Originally Posted by Marvin Mattelson
With all due respect Richard this just isn't true.

Marvin, it's always a pleasure to be called a liar . . . respectfully. The operative word (as it was for Kipling) is IF, and much depends upon it, in the opinion I posted.

Years ago when I was outfitting my then-new studio I found this to be true enough for me. I built my own "monster" and five student easels for much less than a fourth of what comparable equipment would have cost "off the rack". At the time, my expenditure of time was well paid for hours I could spare, considering the actual dollar difference, and the flexibility of being able to impose my own notions of effective design and material quality still pays me dividends in satisfaction.

For a busy professional who also teaches, there's no doubt in my mind that it is more cost-effective to buy "ready-made". As for hating your previous gear/screw easel, as it was custom made, perhaps the gear-ratio and thread pitch were not optimal for your requirements? The possibilities for that detail alone are nearly infinite. Perhaps your work habits require as much vertical movement of the piece as painting? My easel raises / lowers the tray an inch and a half for each turn of the crank; the screw could easily support a five-ton truck, and the motion is effortless.

Speaking of cranks, unfortunately I tend towards vehemence when discussing subjects that interest me, and the general high cost of "professional" easels for the indifferent quality I perceive is one. It's good to know you are thoroughly pleased with your Hughes . . . the whole point of having a "good" easel is to be able to apply one's self entirely to painting, and never have to give the d***ed thing another thought.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:19 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.