Tirra Lyra offers a few different things. The main product is filled or empty paint palettes, but I have also made art prints, beadwork animals and charms, and music bookmarks.

Paint Palettes

One day, as I was trying to figure out a palette for my own watercolour travels, I measured lots of random containers around the house— Altoid tins, Lancome eyeshadow palettes, business card holders— and some of the tin make-up pans seemed just right to fit into the latter two. I went online to look for what might fit inside and happened to find a pan measuring 13 mm on one side. Well, the business card holder had measured 91 mm, and everyone knows that 91 is a multiple of 13! That seemed perfect! I had to make a few tweaks to the basic designs and get the outers custom-made so that I can assemble everything as I think ought to be. Now, here they are for all of you, too!

When designing the exterior, I considered several metals. Silver-toned stainless steel? Lightweight aluminum? In the end, I chose brass for the exterior. Brass was a common choice for making watercolour boxes in the past and is still used today for a delightfully vintage look. With that decided, and after manufacturing the exterior, I began selling the Tirra Lyra palette in 2016.

The pans in 2016 were tin-plated steel. In 2017, I started offering enameled pans, which has the benefit of a white surface for checking paint colour (particularly useful for mixing pans) and which tolerates a little more moisture. I sometimes leave a lot of water in the pan while painting, and it seemed to me that I might be risking the integrity of my valuable watercolour paints every time I did this.

Because tin-plated steel exposes us to the risk of rust if the tin is scratched, I have been looking into tin-only pans or plastic pans to my specifications for the palettes. I hope to move forward with the tin-only or plastic options by mid-2018. Unfortunately, I have not been able to make any very good reliable ones myself or found a manufacturer willing to make them for me without buying a hundred thousand or so.

The palettes are assembled, the pans are enameled, and the paints are hand-poured by me in the United States. As for the palette components, the brass shells were made in Taiwan; the magnets are made in the United States; and I do not know where the pans are made, but I imagine they come from China.


I really just add a lovely loop-braided tail to these for Tirra Lyra. This is a 5-loop braid.

The metal bookmarks are designed and will be made when I find my way to a workshop and learn how to do laser-cutting! If you have experienced the problem of holding open a book that wants to close as you play the piano, another solution for your problem is in the works!

I have a metal bookmark in this shape which I have used for over 20 years. It was a thick, solid stainless steel one made somewhere in the US, as I recall. I have not been able to find these in music stores recently and have only found flimsier imitations imported from China.

I bought several of these thinner ones and was disappointed by how much stronger my original one is. I have been going through the thinner stock slowly— they are definitely functional, but I would feel more comfortable with something sturdier— and selling them with added loop braids attached. I hope to acquire a laser cutter one day to cut out my own designs and bring the more solid model back for my students, if no one else.

Beadwork and Braiding

A resting tiny beaded tiger. Made by Tirra Lyra.

Beaded charms are pretty fun to make. I make very few of them, because they get annoying to do with having to keep track of beads and all. They are also time-consuming.

Other little decorative things I enjoy making are origami and Chinese knotting, but neither has been sold at Tirra Lyra to date.

Art Originals and Prints

I cannot claim to be a very, very fabulous artist, but I do occasionally make something that looks nice enough and which people want to stare at their own copy of. Most prints are as they come. The last print run was in 2017.

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