The sun has started to shine and I have started on my to-do list for the garden (much to my husband’s dismay!) I’ve wanted to build an acrylic easel for ages so I searched on Pinterest for some inspiration. I came across a blog called ‘Tried and True’ which had a tutorial with FREE PLANS! So I printed them off and convinced my husband to take me to Homebase for supplies. While we were there, we also picked up some extra wood to make a water tray and a catapult! Although everyone (including my husband) thinks that building a catapult for a garden full of stones, with a greenhouse and a house with sky lights is a disaster waiting to happen… so maybe that project won’t actually happen!
The designs were really clear but were written by an American family. We couldn’t get everything in exactly the same dimensions but came close enough.
Wood – Homebase. We used CSL timber for the ‘lumber’ and glass bead moulding for the ‘quarter rounds’.
Acrylic sheet – eBay. We bought a 24″ x 18″ piece that was 5mm thick so that it would be quite sturdy.
Bolts – B&Q. We still need to get some wing nuts so that the legs can fold away to make it easier to store the easel.
We measured up the wood and Craig started to cut it while Sophie played in her mud kitchen.
The plans show how to cut the wood so that all of the cuts for the frame and legs can be made from two 2.4m lengths of wood.
We then cut the glass bead. We noticed that the plan says to make the cuts at a 45 degree angle but the diagram shows the cuts as all being parallel. We mitred the ends of each piece in the opposite direction to ensure that they all fitted together. However, we ended up cutting all of the mitred corners off because the type of beading we bought didn’t sit flush against the acrylic so the mitred corners didn’t work when the beading was nailed down!
My favourite part of this design is the legs. They are fixed with bolts rather than screws so that they can be folded flat to make it easier to store the easel when it is not being used.
We are planning on painting the frame with Ronseal garden paint but I couldn’t wait to let Sophie have a go. Craig crouched behind the acrylic while Sophie tried to draw his face!
I ordered some chalk pens from Amazon which worked brilliantly on the acrylic. I plan on using paint too but I thought these seemed like a mess free day-to-day alternative!
We played together and I drew on one side while Sophie drew on the other side. She asked me to draw Branch from Trolls and she drew Poppy next to him.
My favourite moment was when she came round to my side and discovered that she could see Branch on both sides. She kept looking at one side of the easel and then the other side.
We tried to draw a flower together. I drew the petals on one side of the easel while she drew the stem on the other side. Then I added leaves to her stem.
The chalk pens were really easy to clean off the acrylic and Sophie enjoyed doing this herself. At first we used baby wipes but then we discovered you could just wipe them off with a towel. So one of our old tea towels is now chalk pen eraser!
I am really pleased with how the easel turned out and would like to say a big thank you to Vanessa from ‘Tried and True’ for sharing her tutorial and plans.
I am looking forward to using the easel over the summer. I think we will try using it with finger paints, whiteboard pens and natural paintbrushes at some point too.
If you enjoyed this outdoor activity, take a look at our magnetic water wall and our barefoot sensory path.