Creating a Stay Wet Palette – It’s Easy as 1,2,3

diy stay wet paletteCreating your own stay wet paint palette is not only a great way to save money by putting together your own as opposed to purchasing one from an art and craft supplier, but it’s also a great way to retain the quality of your paints in progress as you work. Out of all the different kinds of palettes available, this kind is essential to anyone working in water-based paints, like acrylics for this reason.

Not too long ago, I was going through my closet and picked up what I thought was a storage bin for art supplies, much to my surprise when I removed the lid I found out it was a stay-wet palette! Whoda-thunk it! It actually belonged to a family friend who passed on and her daughter gave it to me along with a myriad of her other art materials.

I proceeded to remove the paper/instruction sheet included. Apparently this thing needs a sponge but it was not included. Some sheets of paper were inside which I understand goes over the damp sponge to retain the moisture of your paint dabs and mixtures. In this post I’m going to show you how you can put together your own for pennies on the dollar!

stay wet palette

Why is This the Best Kind of Palette?

A “stay-wet” palette beats all the conventional kinds hands down for several reasons. First off -it’s dirt cheap to put together -you only need a few simple materials to make one. Second, it tackles that problem that acrylics especially often have – their expediency of drying, which can be problematic when you are trying to do things like apply multiple coats or build up texture. Say goodbye to the endless re-wetting!

Third, it can be covered up when you want to take a break or get done for the day, and you don’t have to worry about wasting expensive paint or that it will partially dry up rendering it useless. Can I get an “amen”?

Materials Needed

All you need is a flat, shallow container about an inch thick that comes with a lid. Some of those food storage containers if they are rectangular or square shaped, will work. as long as they come with a matching air tight lid. Also:

  • Paper towels
  • Water misting bottle
  • Parchment paper

I’m using the actual container you see above in the picture. It is 12″ x 16″. The size of the container you choose can be the same, 8 x 10 or similar is ok too. Here are some that would work very well for this project:

Snapware 6-Pc Plastic Food Storage Containers SetSnapware 6-Pc Plastic Food Storage Containers SetSnapware 6-Pc Plastic Food Storage Containers SetMintra Home Storage Containers 2.3L (Orange)Mintra Home Storage Containers 2.3L (Orange)Mintra Home Storage Containers 2.3L (Orange)Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Divided Rectangular Storage ContainersRubbermaid TakeAlongs Divided Rectangular Storage ContainersRubbermaid TakeAlongs Divided Rectangular Storage Containers

Like that one on the right, I have also got one like it, with 2 smaller compartments on one side – I believe it was intended for packing lunch or something similar. But it works out great for this, because I can use the small compartments for my sponges (more on that shortly…)

Take a few paper towels and fold them enough to fit into the space that is open in the container.

Now get your water bottle and lightly mist the paper towels. Don’t drench them. I’m using my more heavy-duty towels made for “tough jobs”, they are blue in color, however since parchment paper is opaque and white in color it shouldn’t interfere with the nuances of color mixing.

creating a stay wet palette

If you have sponges you could use them too, depending on what will fit into the container. You may want to choose one that has a more conservative color just in case.

Now take out a sheet of parchment paper – try to line it up so it fits inside the container, on top of the paper towel layer. it’s very important to use parchment paper, not wax. Wax paper is semi-opaque looking but parchment is white. Having a white background to mix paint against will bode well for getting the right shade of color.

I attempted to use the cutter edge of the box, but did have to trim the other side.

When you are done for the day you can put the lid back on and the remaining paint dabbles will remain intact! As you work, especially if it’s a very hot dry day you may want to mist the paint dabs periodically to keep them from getting that “skin” on top that develops as exposure to air often will do to acrylics.

Parchment, or baking paper as it is sometimes known as, can withstand the rigors of brush strokes and moisture .

paint dabbing

Here’s the video I made for those of you who like to see things like this in action…For this I used a multi-compartment container for the demo.

Well there you have it! Your very own stay wet palette made dirt cheap that will serve you well for years to come.You can replace the used sheet of parchment paper as needed once you use up the paint or if it starts getting stained.

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