Palette perfection - the Cook-Pike Palette

The well-known watercolourist, John Pike, considered his "Big Well" palette to be the epitome of palette design. Since several artists from whom I have taken workshops seemed to be in agreement with that, I adopted this particular version as my studio palette a couple of years ago. I like its sturdy, rigid plastic construction and the fact that the lid fits tightly, keeping the pigments moist. A small, damp "scrubber" left in the mixing area helps in this respect.

However, I soon found that I didn't much like the fact that it had only the single, large mixing area. As well, with the individual cells lacking much of a front wall, pigments seeped onto the mixing area and tended to corrupt other colours.  I actually stopped using the mixing area and adopted a small butcher's tray instead, but this only added to the congestion on my small studio table.

At one workshop, I noticed that Doug Mays had come to the same conclusion, and he had taken bathroom caulking and laid out two or three divisions within the mixing area. I tried the same thing, but found that constant application of water eroded the caulking. Probably not the right caulking, since if it is designed for bathtub use, it ought to resist water, no?

I decided this called for some engineering. At AboveGround Art Supplies, I located a package of "Plastruct" styrene strips, as used by design students for model construction. I bought the 2.4mm x 4.8mm strips, cut them to size with a little bevel where they met the pigment cells, and glued them into place to form four mixing cells. Now, with luck, I can keep the yellow from being inundated by phtalo blue and so forth. In fact, I will now rearrange the cells so there is no danger of the darks invading the lights.

The glue? Weldbond, which claims to glue anything to anything. I am convinced this is nothing more than Gel Medium. Certainly smells the same, and we all know how adhesive the medium is.

Oh, yes, that's my latest "mop" - a number 2, drastically smaller than the number 8 I first bought. More on these later.


  1. What a great idea. Unfortunately I am not so handy

  2. Maybe I should start a little upgrading business ....?


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