DIY Stay Wet Palette

DIY Stay Wet Palette

Why You Need a Stay Wet Palette

If you’ve ever painted with acrylic paints then you’ll probably have come across a stay wet palette (perhaps you know it by the popular brand name ‘sta wet palette’). Essentially it’s a paint palette that’s designed to help keep the acrylic paint wet for the duration of the painting session.

The great thing about acrylic paints is how quickly they dry. None of that waiting around for days you get with oil paints. But this feature can be a bit of a nuisance when it comes to the paints you lay out on your palette.

There’s nothing more annoying than, having mixed out the perfect shade, to find that it has all dried up before you’ve finished your painting. And it’s not only the mixed colours you want to stop from drying out, putting out mounds of pure colour onto a normal palette is a sure way to waste your paint!

Another advantage of stay wet palettes is you throw away the painting surface when you’ve finished, so there’s no difficult clean up of dried acrylic to do.

What’s on the Market

Probably the most well known stay wet palette is the one I mentioned earlier. It’s by Masterson and is known as the ‘sta wet palette’. Other well known brands such as Daler Rowney and Winsor & Newton have their own versions too.

They all consist of a shallow walled tray with a lid. A thick paper or sponge is laid inside the tray, this sponge is kept moist with water. On top of the sponge lies a slightly water permeable sheet which acts as the palette surface.

Daler Rowney Sta Wet Palette
My rather battered Daler Rowney palette tray. Copper is said to protect against mould

The idea is that the sponge keeps the local environment moist which stops the paint from drying out. The lid locks the moisture in when you’re not using it.

With these branded palettes you’ll occasionally need to buy new sheets and sponges. But as you can see this is a pretty low tech solution to the problem of drying paint so it’s very easy to make your own!

For Your Home Made Stay Wet Palette You’re Going to Need


  1. A shallow tray with an air tight lid.
  2. A sponge cloth or kitchen roll: the thicker the paper the better. I usually double up a couple of sections.
  3. Kitchen parchment or greaseproof paper. You can get 50/100 pre-cut sheets on eBay.
Shallow Tray for Stay Wet Palette
A Tupperware Container makes a good tray

Nice to Have

  1. Little containers to hold your paint: milk bottle tops, and contact lens cases all work very well but I especially like those 7 day pill holders – just break off their lids and you’re left with a flexible paint holder.
  2. Spray bottle: you’ll need to re-wet the sponge-paper from time to time.
Milk Bottle Tops, Contact Lens Case, Pill Holders
Milk Bottle Tops, Contact Lens Case, Pill Holders
Spray Bottle, Kitchen Roll, Wax Paper
Spray Bottle, Kitchen Roll, Wax Paper

That’s All There is to It!

Although they’re most commonly used with acrylic paints you’ll also find these palettes also work well if you paint with casein or gouache.

Two Home Made Wet Palettes
Two Home Made Wet Palettes

So moisten your kitchen paper sponge, lay down your wax paper surface, put out your paints and have some fun painting!

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