The story of the Frazer Price Watercolour Palette Box began with one artist’s goal to make a watercolour box that suited his requirements. In doing this, he created a design that chimed with the needs of artists around the world. While working as a publisher for Newsweek, Tony Frazer Price found time to sketch in the countries he visited, but was frustrated by the palette options available at the time. In response, he designed a lacquered brass box that included a palette, space for watercolour pans, water wells, and a water reservoir – everything a watercolour painter needs while travelling.
Until this year, the only Frazer Price Watercolour Palette Boxes available were from this original run, with many secondhand boxes being sold as antiques. We’re pleased to announce that a new edition of the Frazer Price Watercolour Palette Box has been released. I was excited to be one of the first to try this new edition, and find out why the palette box has been so popular.
At around 300g, the Frazer Price Watercolour Palette Box is heavier than the watercolour boxes I usually use for plein air sketching. Nevertheless, it feels perfectly balanced when you hold it. The thumb goes through one of the fold-out mixing palettes, and the palm comfortably supports the underside of the box (in the same way that an oil painter would hold a traditional oil painting palette). It is much more comfortable than the metal thumb-ring you find on the underside of many watercolour boxes.
The original Frazer Price Palette Boxes were polished and lacquered brass, whereas this new edition has been electroplated with brass, but the design specifications remain the same as the original. When closed, the Frazer Price Watercolour Palette Box measures 111 x 67 mm, with a depth of 45 mm – a compact size for a box that can hold your paints, palette, and painting water. A sturdy clasp holds it together, and when opened two enamelled mixing surfaces each measuring 50 x 100 mm are unfolded from both sides of the paint wells.
The other half of the box holds the water wells and a water reservoir, made from lightweight white plastic. Two water wells are very useful feature – you can keep one for rinsing the brush, and the other can be kept clean to avoid muddying your colours. The water reservoir bottle will fill the wells 2 1/4 times. It has two wells on one side, doubling as another mixing surface.
The palette box fits 18 half pans or 9 full pans of watercolour. The pans are easily slid in and out of the palette, useful for changing your selection of colours.
Upon its first use, the paint beaded up on the mixing surface, making it hard to see the colour I was made. This is quite normal with new palettes, and it takes a few uses to ‘break in’ a mixing surface. After using it a few times, I found the enamelled mixing areas are great for smooth colour mixing. They are an off-white colour, as opposed to pure white, similar to watercolour paper.
While it is an ideal travelling palette for holding in one hand, the clasp also folds down to stabilise the box so it can stand solidly on a table or desk.
Its mirror-like brass finish makes the Frazer Price Watercolour Palette Box a truly luxurious watercolour accessory, but it is as functional as it is beautiful. With its ergonomic and comfortable design, ideal for both working in the studio and en plein air, it’s no surprise that it is so highly sought after by artists.
Watch our unboxing film to see the Frazer Price Watercolour Box in action: