Creative Tip 5: Recycled Paint Palette

Posted on 13 Comments
Polymer Clay Creative Tip 5 - Recycled Paint Palette

 Each & every artist has a few tips, tricks, or thoughtful pieces of advice that they can pass on to others. As I was adding some paint details to one of my items the other day, I sat looking at my typical paint palette and I thought, “you know, this is something my readers might like to know.” So … today with you I share my secret recycled paint palette … okay, so it’s not really a secret, but it is a good tip!

Read My Article on Polymer Clay & Paint Here

A NEW Use for Something Old

I’m a big fan of recycling. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because there’s never a “lack” for a found item. this is a bad thing because … well … it causes hoarding tendencies. It’s a good thing I’m NOT above purging the junk out of my life 2 times a year then, huh?!

Old Shipping Label Backs

Parker - Handmade Polymer Clay Figurine by KatersAcresBecause I do a lot of shipping (mostly of the cute little yellow guy everyone loves, Parker) I tend to accumulate a lot of the backs of labels. You see I print my labels from my computer. I print them onto self-adhesive sheets. What does that mean? It means that after I print the label, stamp it with Parker, and put it on a box, I have this piece of paper leftover: half shiny & half matte.

I use shipping labels for a lot of things in my studio:

  • A make-shift work surface
  • A paper to burnish foils with
  • Paper to put in the oven so my items don’t get shiny spots
  • And at least 10 other things …

But my favorite use of my shipping label backs is to make a make-shift paint palette. The shiny side is awesome to squirt a little bit of paint on, blend colors, try out colors, test your brushes, make tones & tints, and so much more. I use toothpicks to blend many of my colors as well. Then when you’re done … just throw it away.

How to Do It:

  • Polymer Clay Creative Tip 5 - Recycled Paint PaletteGather your used shipping label backs.
  • Place them shiny side up (this is very important)
  • Squeeze a little bit of paint onto the paper.
  • Blend colors using brushes or toothpicks.
  • Use paints as normal.
  • When finished: throw out the paper.

Do you use shipping labels for something in your studio? Leave your comments below.

Thanks for joining me today,

Happy Claying,



13 thoughts on “Creative Tip 5: Recycled Paint Palette

  1. A second tip is that you can get huge sheets of the shiny paper from sign shops. My local shop usually throws it out. So I drop by every once in awhile to help them recycle. Very handy to cover the tables with for my classes, cut to larger sheets for working ‘placemats’, etc.

    1. Oh that’s a great idea! I hadn’t thought about that!

  2. I use sticker backing sheets for a lot of things, paint palettes included. My favorite is to use two pieces or one folded to roll out very thin sheets of clay in my pasta machine. I sandwich an already thin sheet (shiny side inwards)rolled out to nearly the smallest setting, then re-roll on the thinnest useable setting. Great for ultra thin translucent. Easy to peel off the sheet without tearing and helps to keep from rippling, color transfer or the dreaded black streaks from my vintage atlas if I have forgotten to clean the rollers cause I was in a hurry.

  3. My labels come as A4 sheets of 8. I use the A4 label backs to store Mokume gane slices in one half and fold over the remaining half as protection. Now they can be stored just like a book!

    1. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  4. For mixing or applying small amounts of paint, I like to use plastic lids from a variety of grocery items like containers from yogurt, hummus, olives, cream cheese and so many more. Some of these are even transparent so I can lay down a dab of paint, then hold it over my clay piece to check color and contrast with the piece I’m working on. An added plus is that these lids have a shallow lip around them, which contains any runny colors. Love your blog – so many great ideas! Carolyn from Claytheism

    1. Great idea Carolyn! I haven’t had a need to mix exact colors to match something, but when I do, I’m going to use your trick. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I use my palette but this is a super idea! I also use parchment paper for a dozen uses since I don’t print that many labels yet. Now, my personal address label papers? Yes, I have a new use and can stop tossing them all! Thanks!

    One thing you said caught my eye. How did you make Parker label stamps? I’ve been trying ideas, but none suit me yet.

    1. Hi Lisa, I had some rubber stamps made and then just use them on my boxes. Easy, peasy!

  6. I recently got a NeverKnead clay conditioner. I use the shipping labels on the plates of the press to keep the surface clean (held in places with a little double stick tape). Sometimes the pigment from the clay does hang around (anybody else ever get red hands?) and this makes it simple to clean up. It usually lasts a while before needing (kneading?) to be replaced.

    1. Thanks for sharing Betsy. I do the same thing, you can see it in my video here

  7. This is a brilliant idea! I use a plastic palette but find myself working so hard to rinse it every time, and it still has a permanent pinkish tinge. Thanks for sharing this. My mind took off as I read it
    Paint – yes
    squirt glue for then adding with a toothpick

    1. Oh yes Leah, the possibilities are endless. And let’s be honest … who DOESN’T want LESS clean-up?

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