Sunday, March 11, 2012

DIY #1: Silhouette on wooden palette

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It's only fair that I start to share my first Pinterest attempt with the original post that inspired it so here it is:

My version is a bit different as I decided that a deer was a bit too "lodgy" for the shabby chic feel I'm moving towards in my dining room (which is where this will eventually hang.)

   Unfortunately this can't be done without the wood and it really will work best with a beat up old thing. I stumbled upon this piece washed up on the beach on the Outer Banks about 4 years ago and it has been sitting in my studio just waiting for amazingness. When I found that pin I felt like it was meant to be...

Ignore the bird poop...I did.

So I assume if you aren't lucky enough to have one of these lying around, a small palette could work as well.

First things First...
   I started by deciding how I wanted to treat each plank and collected the essentials:
Sandpaper, light teal latex paint and some white acrylic (I use Golden acrylic and the latex was eggshell Behr paint I had laying around from past projects,) a sponge brush, a utility brush , some wood stain in your desired shade and a towel and you're good to go for round 1.

Don't forget your smock! :)

Step 1:
   It's best to start with sanding the whole palette. It's important to pay special attention to any splintered areas since you'll be handling it quite a bit and don't want to worry about slivers ::ouch!::
   A sanding block is ideal (sold at all hardware stores) but any medium to heavy weight sandpaper will do the trick (I used a thin piece I had and it worked fine.) You'll see in the next picture that I jumped the gun a bit and didn't sand the whole things before I started painting...woops! I was a bit too eager. Not a big deal though, because the distressed look I was going for involves lots of sanding all around...

Step 2: Pick a plank and have at it...
   I started with my colored plank. This could really be any color, but there is something about this robins egg, tiffany-esque teal that I love- Start by painting the plank with a hard bristled utility brush (the one I used is shown in the pic of me above.) I mentioned already that I used Behr latex house paint in eggshell and it worked great for me.
   Paint one light coat on the top and sides of the plank. I decided to leave the back unpainted, purely because it will be hung on a wall and not seen anyway. Let this dry while you move on to another plank.

I kept a really light touch in the areas of the wood that I found most interesting. This made it easier to sand through these areas later and let some of the wood show again.

Step 3: Staining
   For the second plank I made sure the wood was really smooth. I was going for a more polished feel to contrast the roughess of the others. I used a spongebrush this time to apply a coating of wood stain, working quickly to help keep the stain even then used a rag to wipe it away. I chose to stain 2 planks so I finished both of them at the same time, following the same steps.

Step 4: Neeeeext...
   For the "white washed" section I used basic acrylic paint and dry brushed some white on. Dry brushing is basically applying the paint sparsley and rubbing it into the wood with the bristles. I kept an extra utility brush on hand as well to help texturize and rub the paint in a bit- this was especially good if I put too much paint down as it helped take away a bit of the excess.

Step5: Sand again
   Now it's time to go back to the beginning and get ready to put some elbow grease into it. Distressing wood creates really beautiful contrast and lets the beauty of the wood grain shine through while keeping those fun, rich pops of color. This step can be done to your taste- The more you sand and the harder the pressure, the more distressed the wood will appear. Don't be afraid to let some areas stay fully painted while some are very worn looking. This is the fun part and you can always add more paint if you sand too much away- sand over all the planks and see what you get!

A close-up of the finished palette...

Now time to add the silhouette!
   Unfortunately I didn't document this part as well as I wish I did now, but I will be specific, and really- there's not much to explain. Now is the point where you decide what you want to paint on your pretty palette. I went for a bird silhouette, but was seriously contemplating the deer like the original inspiration or even a simple owl design. Once you decide on a theme it's always helpful to use Google images for a visual reference (or if you can dream it up and free hand it, go you!) I googled "bird on branch" and found the basic shape I was looking for.
   The easiest way to transfer your image is to make a stencil. A big piece of poster board works great for this- sketch your design, cut it out and then arrange it on your palette in the position of your choice. Use a regular #2 pencil to trace your silhouette and then you're ready to paint!
Above you can see some of my pencil lines and the progression. I used the same Golden white acrylic to paint the bird and standard artist paint brushes os various sizes.

Ta-da! Well, almost...
   Paint as many coats as desired. You can do multiple for an opaque silhouette or paint it lightly and sand it to keep with the distressed feel. Below you'll see the (almost) finish product as it sits in my dining room as we speak Unfortunately, I have a penchant for unfinished projects. I only have a few more branches to fill in on the bottom and when I resume my grand plan to redecorate my dining room you can bet this baby will have a nice focal point to occupy. I'll be sure to post pictures!
I hope you have the opportunity to try your hand at this project- it really was a lot of fun and on a scale of 1-5, 1 being easiest and 5 the hardest I'd give it a medium 3 for difficulty. It's a good 5 hour project, but well worth it. Please feel free to share this, pin this or tell me about your own version of this project email me.

Happy crafting and pinning!


  1. Nice Job Megan. It got me to thinking about a larger pallet with a beach scene or something for my condo in Florida. I loved the colors you used. If you hang it up - post a picture of it, I'd love to see it. Mary Ellen Rao

  2. I really like this! I did a pallet project you might enjoy on my blog (

    This is really cool! I needed some inspiration for the pallets I have!


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