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I see some folks swear by wet pallets while other don’t use them ...

 

I’m curious what everyone’s opinions are on them.

 

For those that use them, what brand do you recommend? I know some people make hand make them, but if I decide to try one, I prefer to buy it instead of make one

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I've only used the Masterson's Handy Palette.  It is fairly small, so it fits well in my limited space.  There are smaller wet palettes available if that's an issue.  I started out using the sponge that came with it.  After many years of use and just sitting around wet, the sponge lost enough integrity it was no longer a nice flat surface.  I started using a few paper towels as a sponge after that.  I think they work about as well as the sponge did.

 

One advantage of paper towels is they are white while the sponge was yellow, though that's a minor thing.  You can also just toss them if they start to mildew.  I usually put a little bit of disinfectant at the bottom of the wet palette before I add water.  That slows down the mildew growth. 

 

I use Reynold's parchment paper on it.  I tried the Masterson's palette paper first, but it seemed to be too porous for thin paint.  I've found that trying to keep paint around from one day to the next results in water moving up into the paint and making it thinner than I like.  Keeping the palette partially open might help with that, but I generally wipe off or rinse out the old paint and start over.  Often I'm able to continue using the old parchment paper after I wipe it off, but it's cheap so not really necessary.

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This is a big question that I'm sure is going to get a ton of responses.  Let me start by saying what I've tried first:

* Glass tile (dry)

* plastic palette with wells (dry)

 

* makeshift wet palette using tupperware (wetted paper towel + parchment paper)

* watercolor air tight palette + cut up shamwow + parchment paper

*  makeshift wet palette (cut up Shamwow + parchment paper)

* Masterson's Sta-Wet palette + Masterson's palette paper

* Not with any particular combination, but I also used dollar store parchment paper: NOT ADVISED!!!!

 

Okay, so let's begin.

Dry - this didn't work well for me in either manner.  It is great for some applications like when I'm using inks, oils, or even some mediums.  For the most part though, this method just dries out too fast at the speed I work at.  Each person I know goes at different speeds, but if you like to take time deciding on your next color, tend to mix a lot, or just take a lot of detail time - this is not recommended.  I watch a ton of Vince and Dr. Faust, but both of them have their own method that works for them on dry palettes.  It's not for me.  At least not at my skill level yet.

 

Wet palettes - overall I'd say this is the way to go.

Couple of things that I found with an air-tight versus sta-wet palette.  The air tight really water things down if left closed.  It doesn't let enough moisture out and makes it difficult to come back to those paints in the same consistency I left them.  Not a major bummer, and in some cases I even discovered some paints work better with a lighter consistency.  Mostly though, the sta-wet has worked best that it isn't air tight.  

 

Cheap parchment paper - do not use.  It's awful.  Just falls apart under brush strokes or mixing your paint.  Then it just lets the paint bleed through to your sponge.  

 

Wetting the sponge:  Using either papertowel, cloth towel, shamwow, or artist sponge, one thing is for certain - put in more water than you'd think you need.  I like the water level high enough to where the sponge is basically floating a little.  Not freely, but if you move the water back and forth, you'd see the sponge slide with it.  This is a critical step because if there's not enough water, it dries out the paper, then it dries out the paint.  Keep a little bottle of water nearby so you can keep the sponge damp and saturated.  I've found that the best sponge was the one that came with the Sta-wet and I'm not going back to anything else.

 

Type of paper to use.  Okay, this is where you'll probably get a lot of input.  The parchment paper I use is from Costco.  So far it's the best texture and stays consistent over long periods.  I'm sure there's other types out there, but I reallllly like it.  I tried the Masterson's paper and it was a failure.  The stuff just sucks.  It leaves a skin on the paints.  They bleed through.  And it just is really thick in comparison.  Before I get blowback on this:yes, I did heat the paper in hot water first, washed it, and tried multiple ways of prepping it before using it.  None of it worked.  I'd say get rid of it and go with good parchment paper.

 

How you apply the parchment paper, which took me a long time to figure out, is crazy the difference it can make.  Miniac on YouTube does a great work through in one of his videos how he does it.  I follow it somewhat similiar.  I put 5 pennies in the sta-wet palette under the sponge (one in each corner and one in the center) then fill with water until the sponge floats (as described earlier), then lay the properly cut sized parchment paper on the sponge.  Here's the catch: I like to hold it from the sides like I'm reverse folding it down the middle over the sponge.  The center makes contact at the fold, then let each side drop down slowly, but DO NOT just let it lay - keep your fingers at each corner once it's down so they don't curl up.  Wait like 20 seconds and you'll see the paper relax and the paper will look damp all over.  The trick is to not let water bead up on the sides or spill over.  

 

So, now that you've got the palette ready, the biggest difference you can make is learning to mix your paints to the dilution of your ideal painting feel.  There's so many factors for success or failure, much of it can depend on how you  like to paint.  The thing that matters most is you doing your wet palette consistently so you can ensure the rest of what you do can be tested with a solid foundation and baseline.  Change too many factors too much and you'll never know what works or how to repeat it.

 

My go to: Sta-wet palette, costco parchment paper, and sta-wet sponge.  I love it.  I also use the 8" x 9" sized palette.  It's like the perfect size to mix and give me room.  Go bigger not smaller!  That's a key thing.  Don't think small is the way to go with wet palettes. Because it can last so long, you can extend your paints from one project to the next and if the palette is big enough it allows more area to work colors in.  

 

Good luck on what you find.  I think the cost for the one I use is perfect, but once I found it and learned it, the change I had in my painting was night and day.  I'll be curious to hear what you end up with. 

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I use a waterproof clamshell cell phone case with a sta-wet sponge and reynolds parchment paper. Then zig zags of copper wire under the sponge for mold and mildew. Usually left cracked, but it's nice that I can close it and know that it can't leak. 

 

You should try it with a small plate/lid, paper towel, and scrap of parchment paper. It will let you know if you really want want and might also help you know what sort you want. You should already have a plate (or old lid) and paper towels. If you don't already have parchment paper a roll of it is cheap and it's good for baking cookies.

Edited by cmorse
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38 minutes ago, Marc said:

I see some folks swear by wet pallets while other don’t use them ...

 

Like most things with painting, it's a matter of preference, but this one also has a bit of how dry the air is where you live and paint. If I don't use a wet palette, my paint dries out really quickly, and I have to remix it. At that point I'm just wasting paint. The wet palette really helps me. But I've yet to meet a wet palette that truly keeps my paint workable past 8 hours after I stop painting; regardless of bought or made, mine have all kept the water vapor trapped and it waters the paint down from above as well as below from the sponge/foam once sealed.

 

I've tried 2 brands and made my own. Like @Serenity I've got the Sta-Wet Handy Palette by Masterson, and it's pretty good. Don't use the paper it comes with, as already noted. It's about 5" x 7", decently sized for doing a single night session. I've got no real complaints with it. I got it at Christmas, so the sponge is still intact. Amazon has it for cheap right now (~$12).

 

I've also got the Everlasting Wet Palette Painter by Redgrass Games (the one with the orange lid). It's a a bit bigger than the Masterson Handy, but not by much. It got a lot of hype when it was sent for reviews to a lot of painters who have a Youtube/Twitch following. It's a wet palette. I don't use the hydration paper it came with, just parchment paper. It looks nice, and has a really tight seal, but that seal works too well. The next day my paints are all too watered down and I just need to start over. And it's an expensive buy. I don't use it much. I might use it more if I ever get to go to a group painting session.

 

My handmade one is made from a plastic food take-out container, the blister foam from a Mantic figure set (cut to container size) and parchment paper. It's smaller than the the ones I purchased, and deeper (I think 3" x 6" x 1.5"), but I use it the most simply because I made and still have lots of pre-cut parchment paper sheets to use. It's got the same problem once I finish and put the lid on for the night. But I will say, I've never had a mold/mildew issue with the foam. In fact, I've got paint and water down there right now from last Tuesday and it doesn't smell funky at all. I just wash it and the container with soap, and no worries.

 

I've tried putting my palette in the refrigerator to keep everything cool and wet as some pros suggest, and still have the same issue with the paint being too wet to use; the water vapor trapped in the palette gets too cold and condenses, and drops back into the paint (I find water drops all long the inside of the lid). It might be that my refrigerator is kept at a colder temp than others. Still, for me, it beats remixing my paints every 20 minutes.

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Basically everything was already said. I need it cause, as @ManvsMini already wrote, I live in a very dry environment and for the same reason I share the same problems of him: is hot and dry and the water evaporate quite fast, so I have to reidratate the palette often; also wen I store it I discovered than leaving the lid not sealed helps to the paints watering problem.
ATM I own a 
Everlasting Wet Palette Painter by Redgrass Games, the only difference with the others is that their sponge is somewhere antiseptic so you do not need to use any disinfectant or to put copper in the palette, but it is overpriced.
You just need a good, flat, plastic container with a lid, food containers especially made for cold cuts are flat and work really well for the purpose, a sponge and parchment paper (plain, flat, without any wax on it); also it is better to put some copper wire in it, to avoid moss and bacteria).

If you leave in a cold, humid environment you do not really need it but you may find some use of it in some particular situation or for save paint :)

Edited by Cicciopiu
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I'm a very slow painter so a wet pallet is a must for me.

 

I started with a DIY one made out of an old takeaway container, dishwashing sponge and baking paper, that I used perfectly satisfactorily for years.

 

Recently though, it's become very difficult to get the baking paper (must be all the people taking up baking during lockdown), so I brought a "proper" one from AK Interactive. It's working out well so far, seems to keep the paint wet for longer than my DIY one, but I'm not sure how long the lid clamps are going to hold up, they're a bit flimsy to me. 

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Just switched to wet palette a few months ago and I'm still trying to get the hang of it. I use the one made by Army Painter. It's the only one I used so far, so I can't compare it. Sometimes I just wish it was a little bit bigger.

I like how the paint stays open for much longer, but it tends to dry out if I leave it for longer. So continuing a project on the next day doesn't work for me. 

Since I've changed to wet palette, I have almost stopped completely to use any mediums. I find it easier to get the paint to do what I want from it. 

For washes, varnishes, metallics and primer I still use my little porcelain well palette.

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I have been using * Masterson's Sta-Wet palette + Masterson's palette paper for a couple of years. Masterson's Paper is OK to work with, but may need to look into Costco parchment paper. One thing I started using about 6 mths ago was a small handheld pump spray/mister to get paints moist again from the top - this may be due to using the Masterson paper that does not allow water to flow up quickly enough. This also might be due to the fact I do not usually over-do having too much water in there (as I am afraid of the molding, as I experienced it once and it is not fun). Use a tiny bit of bleach for disinfectant when changing paper or adding a large amount of water. As many noted, I use a dry palette too - Premiere x6 dry well for inks/varishes/washes/metallics.

Edited by golldan
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I've been meaning to try using one out, but never seem to make the room on the desk for it.  I literally have two different ones I want to try sitting and waiting for me to give them a shot, but then I also look at things and wonder if the tool would see much use since I'm still a somewhat sporadic painter. 

 

Sure would help with paints drying out though, something about 15% humidity and whatnot (it's higher today, but yeah, it can get rather dry here in Alberta...) 

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I, also, use a Masterson's Sta-Wet palette. Specifically, the "handy" size.

 

First, I use Reynold's brand parchment paper over the paper that comes with the box. I like the boxes of pre-cut to cookie sheet size pieces because a quarter of one (it is conveniently folded into quarters) fits almost perfectly in it with little to no trimming. The rolls are fine but I have issues with trying to flatten it out and stuff. It also seems to, for me, work a little better with the Reaper paints. The parchment paper will curl up once you put it on the wet sponge. All you need to do is give it a couple of minutes and it will flatten itself back out. I also use some pennies to hold down the edges most of the time, whether it needs it or not.

 

Second, I was using the Masterson's sponges which worked fine for a while but I have issues leaving it too long without letting things dry out sometimes and it starts to smell weird (especially in the summer) so I toss it and wash out the box (haven't had to replace that, yet). That was getting expensive as the Masterson's sponges are about $6-$12USD (that I have found) for 3. I found some "Swedish dish cloths" on amazon (in this case the Jekayla brand). The ones I use are, as far as I can tell, are the same color as the Masterson's ones.

 

Third, I use distilled water. This is purely because our water here is hard and I don't want the extra stuff in the water to get into the paint.

 

I also use ceramic and plastic welled palettes. I like these for the convenience, I don't have to mess with water levels or waiting for my paper to hydrate. I live in the PNW so it's fairly humid this time of year, where I'm at, (currently 42% in my living room) so I don't have a ton of issues with paint drying out too quickly.

 

I do love the wet palette though. It is convenient for when I'm working on larger projects and need to take frequent breaks. Here (the PNW) the paint will stay wet overnight if not the whole next day. I will generally have to add more water, even if it's tightly sealed, the next day and stir some of the paint back together.

 

Overall, I think it's a great thing to have in your tool box and is an even better one once you learn how to use it properly.

Edited by SparrowMarie
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16 hours ago, SparrowMarie said:

Second, I was using the Masterson's sponges which worked fine for a while but I have issues leaving it too long without letting things dry out sometimes and it starts to smell weird (especially in the summer) so I toss it and wash out the box (haven't had to replace that, yet). That was getting expensive as the Masterson's sponges are about $6-$12USD (that I have found) for 3. I found some "Swedish dish cloths" on amazon (in this case the Jekayla brand). The ones I use are, as far as I can tell, are the same color as the Masterson's ones.

 

 

If you sponges start to smell you can wash them with vinegar, no need to throw them away unless they start breaking down. To prevent the smell from happening in the first place just zigzag some copper wire under the sponge, it will make it take much longer for any smell to develop.

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For those who make their own wet palettes using dish sponges and experience a lot of mold/mildew, I'm beginning to wonder what brand of sponge you use? Some house sponges are made from plant fibers, which are susceptible to all that smelly stuff (I know the Ocelo sponges are plant-based, and the one homemade wet palette I made with one ended in moldy disaster). The blister foam I use instead is a synthetic fiber and those resist mold growth very well.

 

I'm now wondering if the Masterson palette sponges are made of fibers of a plant origin.

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I started with cheap dollar store plastic paint wells, which were fine for a while but I found I was wasting a lot of paint because of the fast drying time of acrylic.  I then moved on to a shallow container lid, paper towel and parchment, and I've honestly probably used that for over 10 years, happily and successfully.  A few months ago I switched to the Army Painter wet palette, and I've been thrilled with it.  Doesn't dry out as fast as my home-made one, the sponge retains moisture better than the paper towel did, and the paper doesn't soak through quite as quickly, so my paints stay useable without getting oversaturated.  I haven't used other storebought ones, but I'm more than satisfied with the AP wet palette, and would never choose to paint without some kind of wet palette again, honestly.

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I used the Masterson’s one  for years, it eventually got a mold problem that i  no amount of cleaning seemed to fix.  I used a homemade one  for a while until i got the Army Painter one as a gift.

 

i like both Army Painter and Masterson’s pretty equally.  I stopped using the papers each came with pretty quickly. The Masterson’s was too porous for anything finer than craft paint and the AP seemed to have an issue with tiny white fibers.  I think they are probably  the waste from the dye cutting process used to give their paper its rounded corners.  

 

In both cases i switched to reynolds baking paper and it works reasonably well. 

 

My only complaint with either is i would like a little more surface area i know Masterson’s has some larger options so that maybe my next purchase.  

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