A number of people have been wanting a review of the StablO Nomadic Easel so today I’ll share a few personal comments.
The StablO is a beautiful lightweight wooden support board for your palette, water and other sketching tools which slides into the top of your sketchbook. To check out the features (including a video) please refer to the StablO page here and their Instagram account.
My first reaction when I received mine last year was that it was lighter than I expected. I did this sketch to compare its weight with my usual Coroplast (corrugated plastic) support board and clips. More about my support board here.
I was wondering about how effective the magnetic top was, and because both the body of my palette and the two mixing trays connect with the magnet, it is more secure than I expected. My palette has slid off a few times so I know to be careful to keep the board as horizontal as possible. As my water containers already have blu-tac on them, I don’t use the water container attachment or the magnetic feature to secure them.
The way that the StablO secures to your sketchbook is very versatile as it means you can easily use it for many different sketchbooks (with varying size and format) but it does mean that it’s not directly supporting the spine or the pages of your book. It works well for most hardcover books (including A4 portrait and landscape) but I found the StablO a little top heavy when using an A4 portrait book.
It’s not supportive enough for the first few or the last few pages of a softcover book. Once you are in the middle of a softcover book the pages of the book provide adequate support and so the StablO is usable.
The StablO would not work for sketchbooks with thick covers (such as handmade books with fabric covers) as they would not fit inside the slot. It’s a tight fit for the back cover and pocket in the Moleskine.
I prefer more support under my book as it feels more secure, but the design of the StablO is more versatile for different sketchbooks which is a big plus.
Overall I enjoy using the StablO as much as I use my other support boards. I don’t think one is much better than the other – but if I had to choose I prefer my own support boards as they are more supportive and secure. However I do need to have a few different sized support boards to suit different size sketchbooks.
The StablO is great to throw into my bag if I think I will need some kind of support and it’s nice to know that it will suit all my sketchbooks. There is no doubt that it is a beautiful product so it’s much nicer than my usual support boards which are a bit rough. (Note: one day I will get around to sourcing black coroplast!)
I would love to hear your feedback if you use/have tried the StablO Easel. Please add comments below rather than email them to me, so that your experience will be helpful to others.
I bought my STABLO last year too. And I am totally in love with it. I don’t just only use it outside – I love it for interior sketches on my lap too. You didn’t mention the cup and brush holder which come with it. I use it together with a collapsible cup which easily can be but in your bag afterwards. … it is surely not a ‘must have’ but for me much more than a ‘nice to have’ I love it.
I totally agree with you.
I bought mine in the middle of last year and even with the limited use I’ve been able to make of it, it’s clearly superior to the jury-rigged board/ magnet/ clip combos I’d been experimenting with. The design and workmanship is very polished. It works well with the covers of my preferred Kunst & Papier and Hahnemühle sketchbooks. It’s surprisingly light and it’s so compact – fits in any of the bags I’d take sketching.
I like that you can use it with the spine “vertical” and the palette area above the sketchbook or with the spine horizontal and the palette area to one side or the other of the book. I don’t use the pen holder attachment at all, partly because I haven’t gotten around to enlarging some of the holes to fit my fountain pens and partly because I still prefer wearing my Walkit sketch bag to carry pens and brushes and have them handy while working. I do use the cup holder (unless sitting on the ground, in which case the water cup sits on the ground too) and what I love about that is the mouth of the cup isn’t poking up so precariously high above everything else but is closer to the level of book, paints and towel. It also makes it more practical to use a slightly bigger cup (rather than specimen jar size). The downside is you can’t just put it down on a flat surface without removing the cup first. I think a big binder clip would be enough to add a sense of security for a metal palette but I’m certainly happy with the strength of the magnets.
I can’t see how this would work with paper pads rather than books.
Maybe put the cardboard backing in the slot and clip the attached paper to it to anchor?
Just to let you know… it is meant to be used with books only. You need the book spine to be in the slot.
That said, you can absolutely insert the cardboard backing of a single-edge bound pad of paper between the two boards. The slot is there to accommodate a book spine not to make it useable only with books. An A4 pad with gum on the long edge will work particularly well. But depending on the thickness of the card, you may need an extra sheet of card to keep the pad firmly in place. (Or a clip)
… that is interesting. I never used it with a paper pad. I just had a look at this combination and I would clearly prefer a book because the spine and the stablo built a right angle and this is what gives stability to the whol construction. From my point of view a cardbord or pad don’t give enough stability… but that is just my personal preference.
Agree, it has definitely been conceived for use with books, especially hard-back books, but I do like that it is versatile enough to accommodate other formats if one really wants to make it work.
Thank you for this Liz – a very useful review 🙂 Here are some thoughts on my experience with the Stablo:
I bought the Stablo early last year. Despite a few niggles, I use mine all the time and love it.
What I love:
– light, slim and small enough (~A4) to fit in with the rest of my outdoor sketch kit.
– Strong and sturdy considering how light it is!
– Can wipe clean
– magnatised – fairly strong magnets that can hold a small watercolour palette – I’ve used Art Toolkit and a small Schminke paletts
– The elastic band is a genius! – it can hold pens/pencils/brushes as well as a small sturdy water cup.
– Can hold a couple pens/pencils without having to use the brush holder part
– Works for a quite a range of sketchbooks.
What I dont love:
– Cannot be tripod mounted, but I guess thats not the purpose of this easel, and I’ve managed fine without this funtion
– It’s not ideal for sketching standing up – I guess, the same for any support board to some extent
– ‘Fatter’ covers and those with a back pocket (e.g. Etchr sketchbooks have both) can be a problem to fit in the gap. I do manage to do that still (with a bit of ‘force’)
– Water cup holder size if fixed – but I’ve managed to find cheap plastic cups that fit. Also now Stablo do collapsible silicon cups which work really well
– brush holder sizes dont work for all brushes – probably the only part I don’t use very much!
– Probably not ideal for sketchbooks lager than A4, but this isn’t a problem for me.
– Not particulary suited for loose paper – again I use sketcbooks mostly, so not an issue. I have used Etchr postcards and 6×4″ Fabriano pads on it, secured with clips/washi tapes and it works perfectly fine.
I will continue to use this depite the aspects which I ‘dont love’ – I think for the price and how much I’ve used it so far, it’s definitely a good buy for me.
Hi Sasala. I have figured out a way to mount it onto a tripod. Here’s a link to the FB post I made that explains how to do it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/403006076777641/permalink/1451415751936663/
Yes it can be mounted to a tripod. It is even shown on the website.
Stablo now offers a tripod mount that can be attached (not sure how to attach) available now in their catalog.
I got one early last year. I too was happily surprised at how light it was and also how small! I was expecting something bigger and bulkier. The attachments for brush and water seem a bit flimsy. The one for water looks very weak, so much so that I decided to purchase a second water attachment at the same time knowing it was going to break at some point. I have used the board in the studio, on location and in my car. It is practical and worked fine with all sketchbooks I have so far, soft or hardcover. I do use clips though to further secure the book to the Stablo. The magnetic feature was able to hold my palette, I have not dropped it yet! The brush holder does not work with travel brushes, which is a bummer. But if you wrap the brushes a few times with electric tape to thicken up the brush handle, then it is fine. I wrapped my top 5 brushes with different color tape and that was useful to also quickly identify the brushes, which was a plus. When I want simplicity, I just take the R13 brush and stick it in one of the board notches with the existing elastic instead of bothering with the brush attachment. Same for the water attachment – most of the time I just stick a smaller jar behind the elastic on the side notch. All in all it is a great little board. I have made myself Coroplast boards, but found it too flexible. I then used that MDF material (3/16” thick) where one side is a white board. I covered the raw side with waterproof wood clear coat (several layers!) so the whole board is water resistant. It would probably dissolve if I were to dip it overnight in a full bathtub, but it can totally stand rain and water spills/splashes. I drilled holes for different size water containers, but did not bother to make holes for brushes as I don’t need them. I can make holes anytime, it is quite easy. The point is, my board is more supportive than the Stablo and will work for any sketchbook, even the ones I don’t currently use. I am not dependent on hard covers and large portraits are not a problem. But, if I want a board to suit every sketchbook, it would definitely be bigger and heavier than the Stablo! I use the Stablo and my board interchangeably. I have not decided which is my ultimate favorite yet!
I use travel brushes for most things, even at home. Your review gives me an idea: an extra cup holder, to use to hold my travel brushes.
Hi Liz ! Thanks for your review of the Stablo board, which is French 😉 by the way… I’ve been using it for more than a year now and am very happy with it. Only problem is with books with thick covers but with the Moleskine books that I regularly use it’s ok. As for the water container instead of using the wooden support i use a metal container which I lay on the magnetized board and there is no problem for holding it.
Hi Liz, thank you for this blogpost and your thoughts and all the other inspiring comments on the Stablo! That really helps to get an idea! I got mine some days ago and will take it with me and find my setup!
Black Coroplast? When I was searching for something like Coroplast in Germany (I found it hard to find) I came along a vinery next door. They get empty wine-bottles on Euro-Palettes. And between the bottles they use plastic sheets similar to Coroplast, though a bit different. They are the same size as the palettes (about 1×1 m) and come in different colors, blue and green and… black! Perhaps places where empty bottles in Australia are needed, use similar stuff? Next door I could easily get one for you 😉
Thanks everyone for the comments and feedback!!! Super helpful for others.
I love the Stablo which I have had for over a year. Indoors outdoors and love that it fits in my bag and is so lightweight. I can use it for my small Moleskine A6 up to my A4 portrait and landscape books. For my brushes I use a little
Pouch that holds eyeglasses around my neck. Which works Better than their brush holder. I have 2 neoprene water bottles that fit in the elastic holders on the sides by the neck. Usually though I put a rag in the one in the left to dab brushes. The magnets work with my Meeden and art tool kit tiny palettes. My former Liz support boards require clips and did not fit in my bag even folded. So I prefer the Stablo!
Has anyone in the US ordered a Stablo from France? The company does ship to the US, but the price does not include taxes. I’m wondering how that works, as imports from the EU are definitely taxed in the US. On the other hand, I couldn’t find any dealers in the US—do you know of one? Thanks for any info!
I just ordered it. They do not charge tax. I bought a separate ring for 2 extra water cups (not included). So I was charged for only the products and shipping 12.90 EUR.
Easel 70 EUR
Water cup inset 5 EUR
2 cups 8 EUR
All the best! Monica
Thanks for the StablO review. Here’s some black coroplast via Amazon Australia —
Regarding sketchbooks with back pockets (Moleskine for example), slit across the top of the pocket so the board doesn’t have to go over it.
Great information! So helpful. I’m thinking of purchasing one. Has anyone tried the Stablo with Pentalic or Handbook Journal Co watercolor sketchbooks? Those are my favorites and I’m wondering if the covers on those two brands will work with the Stablo. I don’t think the covers are that much thicker than the Moleskine, but wanted to see if anyone has first-hand experience using these sketchbooks with the Stablo.
Watercolor sketchbooks that have a pocket on the back cover do not work with Stablo.
Yep … I noticed that as well. Although I took an exacto blade and just gingerly sliced it in a way that allows the book to slip in. I can still use the pocket, although it’s now open on one side. But I’m noticing more and more that I just clip my sketchbook onto the bottom part of the board and don’t bother slipping it into that one slot. I have to use clips to keep the pages flat, so it’s faster to just clip to the board than fiddle with that slot.
Can you only order these from France? Or is there a US dealership?
Wanted to share this with anyone who owns a Stablo. I have figured out a way to rig a tripod so that the Stablo just pops onto it (magnetically). I use a camera plate and two magnets used to hold a GoPro onto a car. I have posted all of the instructions and materials on this Facebook Page (it is an FB page dedicated to homemade easels):
Hope others find this useful! I’m loving my Stablo!
I bought the stablo & love it! I use it with pads of watercolor paper just slide the back cardboard into the slot & clip it down. I am in the U S. Walmart has all kinds of magnets. I bought a pkg. Of 2 flat magnet sheets. I cut to size & stuck on the back of my small metal palette to make it even more secure. It’s strong.
Glad it’s working well for you Karen~
I agree with you, Liz, having a board that would support the spine of your sketchbook is essential. I’m wondering if there is a way to marry the two concepts (yours and the Stablo board). I’m taking Jane Blundell’s Travel Sketching course now and am trying to find a quick/laptop easel that would work for me better when I go out on my golf cart to paint.
I have just come back to the stabilo after not enjoying it for the hard bound SB sketchbooks.
I have started using a hard bound spiral SB book because it is easy to tear out pages for scanning. They slot right back in quite securely. The stabilo fits the spiral book perfectly. I have also rethought the use of the different holes. The brush holder was a fail for me but it fits vials of ink perfectly. In the side elastic holder I put a plastic cup to store pencils, brushes etc. The cup is pretty mangled but it does not matter for that purpose. Along with my helinox zero chair I’m a happy sketcher.
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