Tian Gan | Printmaking & Design
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Tian Gan's Printmaking Blog

Tian Gan's design and printmaking blog. The Stockholm-based artist writes about her work process.

New Table Easel + Hack

From a couple of weeks ago I've been having some back and shoulder pain. Not bad enough to be alarming, but nonetheless very irritating. After some contemplation I decided that it had to do with my posture, or to be more exact, how I carve.

I have a pretty large, flat working surface and an adjustable chair, but I do have the tendency to round my upper back too much over the table when I carve. This puts a lot of pressure on my shoulders as and back.

An angled work surface solved the problem. Well, first I tried to visualize my posture if I could create an angled surface on top of my work desk, and it just seemed much more natural and easy. I Googled different options, and found desk easels with a solid wood board (instead of just bars) as back support, which looked perfect as a carving surface.

I ordered the Mabef M34 Lectern Table Easel from Matton, a Swedish art supply store two weeks ago and got it last weekend. Here's a picture from Mabef.


First impression: very sturdy, and the wood has a subtle hue of peach that neither the manufacturer photo or mine captures. 

I tried it instantly, but the legs are very slippery on my work surface (very smooth). The Mabef easel legs are completely flat. With the pressure you put on when you lean against it to carve, the easel will simply glide away at your first attempt. 


Since I have every intention of using it, I'll have to fix the legs somehow. I don't trust the usual anti-slip stickers for furniture, and I found this dashboard anti-slip mat stacked away. Very weird jelly-like texture, but extremely non-slip - you can use it to stick your phone to an almost vertical surface. It costs very little and you can find it on Ebay.


It's very soft too. I cut it into strips just a little smaller than the easel legs, and attached the anti-slip strips on with wood glue, smooth surface facing the easel. 


Works like a charm! The easel legs are so non-slip they really grab onto the cutting mat, and now I'm considering getting a bigger non-slip mat (the grid kind) to lay under the cutting mat :/

I removed the wood bar on the bottom - it's meant to secure canvases and they get in my arms' way when I carve. The angle is adjustable with the handy screws on the sides, and you can get a very steady surface if you really tighten them. I put my Pfeil tools in the little holes - I might add some stickers to color-code the different gouges later on. 

When the surface is rather flat like this, the linoleum or stamp (I tried both) have no problem sliding off; but you will need to hold it with your non-carving hand if the surface is any higher up. I might drill some more holes in the center in the future so I can put in small pins to keep the carving material in place, but I carved for 1 hour today and this wasn't really an issue. 


Yup. The next time I post I will have completed the triceratops print - need to dig up some paper from storage first. Good thing I've transferred all the Caligo paint to tubes; now printing will be less stressful :)