A homemade French Companion I built and use a lot!
About a year ago I decided to build a French Companion for my French Easel. I was tired of using just the provided palette that came with the easel. Everytime I folded the beast up I'd end up with paint on me plus I had to remember to keep the paint flat enough on the palette to not hit the frame when closing the door to fold it all up. As for the difference between a French Mistress and a French Companion all I could tell is one is larger than the other and the spelling:)
A Companion made sense since it not only gave me a larger mixing surface but it kept the paint away from my clothes, was easy to carry and gave me two side panels to sit things on like brushes, turps containers, knives and the mandatory cup of coffee that I like to paint with. The only problem was the price of a store bought one....wasn't insanely high but I just didn't want to paint that much money for something I'm going to slop paint all over not to mention banging around in the truck when heading to painting locations. I'd build one! I'm cheap labor.
Building the companion was easy. The companion is just 3 flat boxes tied together with brass piano hinges. I used flat pieces of scrap thin Luan ply from that I had bought at home depot for another project. The frame was just a 2x4 cut down to size. Brass piano hinge from Home Depot too. Slapped some orange oil on it and that's it. No tricky cuts, no varnished finish, no oak or cherry....I'm just going to ruin it eventually with paint all over it. It probably cost me all of maybe $10 to build. I love working with wood so it was a lot of fun for me building it, (thanks Mr Danielson, my Blair High Woods teacher for 4 years of fun).
Of all my painting gear I love this one the best. Works great, looks fine and does exactly what it was built for....keeps my clothes paint free and holds my coffee too! I like it so much I use it in the studio to mix on when working on my French Easel or my big easel. I just set it on a small metal table that I keep paint in...my taboret. It has wheels so I can roll it around from easel to easel. When I'm finished painting for the day I just fold it up and slide it in the fridge to keep the paint from drying up. When I take it on locatiuon I just wrap a bungee cord around it to keep the tops closed....I could make a latch to do that but why bother, it works just fine with a bungee cord. If you don't have one of these build one and give it a try.