by Brenda Murray
With the coming of warmer weather and a new season of sketching workshops and events and, of course, the 2019 USk Symposium in Amsterdam, it's time to give a little thought to one of the most important tools amongst our sketching accoutrements, the sketching stool. Choosing a sketching stool, the throne upon which we place our bottoms for what could be a 1-2 hour sketching session, is of critical importance.
Choosing a sketching throne is the Goldilocks of decisions. It must not be too heavy, nor too tall, not too low, nor too big.
Of course, every bottom is different, as the saying goes and to each his own.
Over the years I have tried out my fair share of sketching stools and at the moment waver between a tri-leg duck hunting stool and a sling back camper chair. I was inspired to buy this sling-back chair a couple of years ago after my friend Alvin Wong, a sketcher from Hong Kong, sang the praises of his similar chair. This lightweight, portable chair requires some assembly of the shock-cord frame but it folds down into a handy zippered carrying case. It really is comfortable and the little pouch on the side can be used for a tall water jar.
Mostly, though, when I'm running out the door to a sketching event, I grab my duck hunter's tri-leg.
This sturdy stool with it's triangular seat forces me to sit up straight when I'm sketching. I'm not sure that the camo pattern does much for me as it is pretty much covered by the aforementioned bottom. With feet firmly planted, this stool can be relied on to be stable. But to be honest I never bring either with me when I'm travelling to a sketching event on a distant shore for the simple reason that the sling-back takes up too much room in my overhead suitcase and the duck hunter at 22" long (when folded) is too long to fit in my carry-on.
So my quest to find the perfect sketching throne continues and here share my findings.
My camo tri-leg stool unfolds to a sitting height of about 16" which is actually quite comfortable. But, in fact, it is available in two other sizes. This mini tri-leg unfolds to 12" and is reported to support up to 200 pounds.
It is also available in an extra tall version that opens up to a seating height of 20.5"!
Not sure I could even reach my water jar from that lofty height but for some people the Extra Tall Tri-leg would probably be perfect.
To the list of choices I mention this plastic folding stool. Lots of sketchers prefer this stool. It's extremely sturdy and fairly lightweight. It folds flat and can be carried by the build-in handle. It's probably the most durable of stools as there are no flimsy parts. The seating height is 9".
I think someone in a white lab coat had to work some complicated physics to defy the force of gravity in the design of this Super Small Stool. It looks flimsy but, in fact, I have seen our very own Lapin seated on a throne of similar construction. This lightweight stool weighs 1.8 lbs including its carrying case. The seating height is 13.4" and, unbelievably, it supports up to (100kg) 220 pounds!
I have three more stools to tell you about.
This Ultra Lightweight Mini Camp Stool weighs only 0.6 pounds. The seating height is 10.6" and it folds down to 9.4x5.3" with a twist of the wrist and a shock-cord frame. It also reportedly supports 176 pounds.
If this style of folding stool looks like it would be comfortable, then perhaps you'd like it in a backpack version.
This Backpack Stool features a soft cooler attached under the seat and two straps so that it may be carried like a backpack. This stool seems fairly popular. I've seen sketchers use the backpack to carry their gear. I would probably remove the padding inside the backpack to reduce the weight even further. The seating height is 17".
And now to our last sketching throne. Drumroll please...
This Super Small Sketching Stool has a seating height of 11.5" and it folds down to 13.5x4.5". It also comes with its own carrying case and weighs 1.6 lbs. After examining all the alternatives this Goldilocks is torn between this last one which looks comfortable, is lightweight and folds down small and the Ultra Lightweight Mini Camping stool above. It folds down a bit smaller and, for me, it's all about reducing the size of the things I have to carry.
In the end I purchased the Super Small Sketching Stool above. Delivery is in 2 days. How exciting!
I hope you found this blog post helpful and wish you the best in your quest for the perfect sketching throne!