I designed a portable easel out of two pieces of luan (1/8" to 1/4" plywood).  I originally intended to sell them, but decided I didn't really enjoy making them in production levels.  The time vs. cost factor didn't really pan out.

Either way, this is a design that might make an artist loved one happy.  It is fairly quick and easy and has a bit of style to it, I think.

I added some molding at the bottom to act as a sort of pencil or brush holder.  Just some metal rings to hold the two pieces of wood together and a SWEEEEET woodburning on the front with my name--feel free to put someone else's name on yours!

What you don't see in the photos is a leather strap with a small dowel at the end that fits into two notches--one for holding the two sides of the wood from splaying apart when it's in easel mode, and another for when you want to keep it closed for carrying it.

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