Designs / Inventions  Jerry Breen   www.newbreen.com   410-683-1562    newbreen@comcast.net            
Baltimore caricature artist Jerry Breen

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  Breeneezil artist easel by Jerry Breen     "Breeneezil" Artist Easel             

The "Breeneezil" is a compact portable artist easel of my own design. When I began doing live caricature art at Baltimore's Inner Harbor about 16 years ago, I soon grew to hate the collapsible "French Easel" that is standard equipment for caricature artists and pastel portrait artists. In order to achieve portability, they employ a complicated system of collapsible folding legs with numerous hinges and turnscrews. In use, the easel is unstable. The turn-screws inevitably loosen from wear over time. The light-weight wood splinters and cracks. As a result, the easel often collapses without warning, while you're drawing.

I decided to construct an easel of my own design which would be simple to set up,  easily portable, stable and strong.  The first makeshift prototype was made of foam-core board. Over the years I've made  several more prototypes from lightweight plywood, gradually refining the design. The finished Breeneezil  breaks down to  less than 1 1/2" thick with built-in handles for easy transport, sets up in less  than 30 seconds (as opposed to over 5 minutes for a French Easel) and is very comfortable to use.
I've applied for a patent and I'm now approaching manufacturers  about producing the easel in volume.  Its design would lend itself very easily to mass production, either in plywood or, better yet, in  plastic. Its  simplicity would also allow it to sell for  far less than the complicated French Easel. 
breeneezil artist easel
brreneezil setup sequence

The Breeneezil Artist Easel sets up easily in less than 30 seconds.
     Liberty Center (Design for World Trade Center Site, NY)

  Ground zero design - World Trade Center site   Ground Zero design - World Trade Center site

I grew up in New York, on Staten Island, across the harbor from downtown Manhattan, and watched the skyline grow and change over the years. When I was in college I watched the towers of the World Trade Center rise floor by floor. I remember one strange incident from about January 1970 when I was in the neighborhood where the towers were rising. The lower floors were glassed-in but the upper floors were still a bare metal skeleton. This was late morning about 11am, and what looked like sheafs of paper started to fall from the upper part of the towers, fluttering down and scattering over an area of a few blocks around the construction site. As they neared the ground, they suddenly plummeted onto the pavement, smashing windows of cars and sending pedestrians running for their lives! It was sheets of ice that had formed on the skyscrapers' skeletons during a freezing rain the night before that were now flaking off in the morning sun. ( In retrospect, a very strange precursor of the disaster to come over 30 years later. ) In later years, I visited friends who worked in offices in the towers, went on the guided tour to the open-air observation center on the roof, ate at "Windows on the World" with its spectacular view of Staten Island across the harbor, had drinks at the "Sky Dive" bar on the 44th floor and shopped in the stores in the underground PATH subway station. When the towers were destroyed, it was a tremendous shock to me. I had been there. Friends had worked there. An artist friend's best-known work was destroyed in the disaster. While noone I know died that day, several relatives escaped death, both there and at the Pentagon, by strange quirks of fate that disrupted their schedules that day. When plans were discussed for rebuilding on the site, this concept just started growing in my mind. When they solicited ideas from the public, I committed my design to paper and submitted it in the formal competition, with the sponsorship of a local Baltimore architectural firm. Of course, it will never be built, but it's an interesting concept. So I thought I'd share it with you. - Jerry Breen


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