So began the experiments.
First I experimented with foam core. The result cost about one dollar, was beautiful, and was very compact (you could fold it flat). But because it was SO lightweight, it was far from sturdy. It could hold a canvas upright, but it you pressed on it with a brush, the canvas would topple.
I repeated the same elegant design with plywood. The result was so heavy, I stopped before finishing it. No way was I going to lug 50 pounds around just in easel weight.
Then, like the Goldilocks that I am, I made a third attempt that turned out just right!
The simple question was: how can I prop up my canvas and not have it move while I paint on it? And the answer was this:
How to Make a Tabletop Easel
Use a selfie stick to prop up the back of the canvas, add a grooved piece of wood at the front to hold the bottom of the canvas, have something at the back to keep the selfie stick from slipping away, and hold it all together with a piece of no-skid liner. Simple, cheap (dollar store selfies cost, you guessed it, one dollar), and surprisingly sturdy.
This video will show you how to cut and put this tabletop easel together.
In addition to the selfie stick, I used a 14 inch piece of picture frame, two tiny wood screws, a 16 inch length of anti-skid liner, staples, and glue. All of this cost about $3.
I painted a 16 x 20 inch canvas on my finished easel and totally forgot that it wasn’t a normal easel.
Now I just have to make ten more of these, and I’ll be on my way to riches! Muahaha!