From Pallets to Paintings
5 mins read

From Pallets to Paintings

This past decade has seen an explosion in creativity, the internet has allowed people from all around the world to share their artistic creations and ideas, and we’re seeing new forms of expression.

One of my favorite mediums which has been at the center of much of this creativity is pallet wood, a material which has been around for years now which is leading to innovations in pallet recycling. As a material pallet wood is neutral but rough, and the often weathered nature of the wood gives great texture which can be brought out through staining or painting.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas for getting creative with pallet wood.

Pallet Canvas

I recently visited a friend’s Total Pallet Management company in which he had decorated the front room with various paintings all done on what he called “pallet canvases”. A simple enough idea, taking 6 to 10 pieces of pallet wood and arranging them together to create a square or rectangular surface on which to paint.

There are two distinct styles which work well on these canvases, first is using bold colors to contrast the gray/brown color of the wood, this makes whatever is painted pop out of the canvas, and the neutral background means it works on any wall. This style suits simple paintings better, my friend had one pallet painted like the US flag which worked well against the wood colors. Some other ideas could be painting a sunset or landscape scene onto the canvas.

The other style is using black and white to paint something subtle which draws the eye to search for more detail. This style suited more natural images like flowers, leaves, and animals; I believe this is more suited to painters with experience, whereas the other could suit beginners more.

Pallet Cut-Outs

As the title would suggest, cutting out parts of your pallets to make a shape can lead to some very elegant and effective pieces of art. The cut-outs can be standalone pieces, or you can make a pallet canvas (see above) and cut a shape out of that, giving you a negative space piece.

This style of art may be more simple to those with experience using tools, particularly a bandsaw or scroll saw which can make cutting out the desired image much easier. With either of these tools you can design something as simple or detailed as you feel comfortable cutting out.

For those without such tools it will be easier to make simple shapes, lay the wood out how you want the shape and draw on the stencil, then using a handsaw cut the pieces down to size to be attached together at the end. As mentioned simpler shapes like a star will be much easier to cut out with the handsaw.

Either way once you’ve cut out your desired shape you may decide to add some detail using paint or wood burning, look for examples online for some inspiration.

Pallet Sculptures

This may be on the expert end of woodworking and creative expression, although there are many brilliant ideas online which are doable with some basic tools, time, and of course patience. I definitely recommend spending some decent time finding examples to help you decide on your own design, and having confidence with professional tools will save you a lot of time and effort.

As with the other pallet arts you can add a huge amount of detail to a sculpture by painting or burning it, remember to consider this first as it may be easier to add these details before putting the sculpture together.

Where Are The Pallets?

If you’ve made it this far but don’t have any pallets of your own, here are some tips to finding some locally.

Check in your local business registry for a pallet provider or a company which provides pallet services, although this may be the most expensive method of getting pallets, you can be sure the quality will be good.

Visit your local hardware and garden shops as they will often have products shipped in on pallets, enquire about what they do with their broken or old pallets, you may need to offer some money as the pallets are often paid for by the store.

Enquire with the local landfill if they have any available, often they will have their own section in a landfill, this may be the only way to get free pallets although you may still need to pay a little money.