The Mahl Stick is a light, two-piece, inflexible metal rod, which a painter or signwriter uses as a rest or support to steady the brush or hand while executing particularly detailed or exacting work.
A light, two-piece, inflexible metal rod, which the painter uses, as a rest or support, to steady the brush or hand while executing particularly detailed or exacting work. The ball shaped end of the Mahl Stick is covered with a piece of leather to minimize possible damage to the canvas.
The Mahl Stick has two primary purposes:
To steady your hand while painting. Holding your arm away from a surface while painting, especially when it is a vertical surface, can cause your arm to tire. This may cause your hand to shake and the mahl stick helps alleviate the problem.
To give you a support to rest your hand on. Many people have a tendency to rest their hand on a piece of paper while drawing. When painting, this is not a good idea because you are working with wet paint and, often, a soft canvas with no support behind it.
You can also use your mahlstick as a handy straightedge tool as well as a rest. Hook the ball over the top of the canvas or board so you can use your non-painting hand to manoeuvre the stick to get a straight vertical line and simply run your brush or charcoal down the length of the shaft to create your straight line. You can do this from any angle to also create horizontal or diagonal lines.