In the early 50s, Professors Richard Williams and George Swinton of the University of Manitoba School of Art recognized a need for an easel that was sturdy, durable, and inexpensive. Easels and tables for classroom use also needed to be easy to stack and store.
In the development stage, more innovative ideas came up:
a wide tripod base, vertical and slanted capability, and a quick and efficient clamping system to accommodate standard stretcher bars.
Then came the demand from many other colleges and universities, and that's where Tim Ray entered the picture. With his help, the easels are now being manufactured in Barnesville, Minnesota, and sold across the continent.
Some improvements, such as new finishing techniques and casting parts, have been incorporated, but the product is fundamentally the same now as when it was introduced over half a century ago.
Founder Timothy Ray (BFA, University of Manitoba; MFA, University of Arkansas) relied on his 26 years of experience teaching painting and drawing in the quest for the perfect easel. After 15 years of development and refinement, we like to think we produce it.
The Barnesville Easels company maintains our founding design philosophy, "Make it strong, simple, and functional."
L to R: George Swinton, Tim Ray, and Richard Williams with a 50-year-old easel
(a bit grubby, but still in use).