Wood meant for cargo makes beautiful art. See page 55

Art by the Pallet

In February 2016, Retreat, Stuff by Tracy JonesLeave a Comment

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When local artist Sal Recca ran out of wood one day, he turned to a discarded wood pallet.

It made a great piece of furniture.

elephant“It’s a Cinderella story at its best,” says Recca, who owns Unrefined Designs, LLC of Raleigh. “I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it out, so I cleaned it and planed it to strip away the outer grime and found that underneath it all were these gorgeous planks of wood with natural colors and wormholes that give it so much personality.”

Pallet art has become popular in recent years as the rustic chic aesthetic has taken over and the appeal of upcycling has grown. The combination of the beauty of hidden cracks and crevices and the strength of wood meant for cargo makes pallet wood ideal for furniture construction. According to the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association, there are more than 1.8 billion pallets in service in the U.S. every day.

Trash for some; inspiration for others.

“When I see a pile of pallet wood, the wheels are turning, and I get creative at the first glance, like love at first site,” says Gloria Jarema of Southern Home Design, who works with her husband. “Our love to restore and design organically shines through our art.”

wine_rack_1While wine racks and painted signs are common pallet art, local designers are branching out to create one-of-a-kind pieces. Examples include a horse wagon seat bench from Southern Home Design, end tables and cabinets from Carolina Homemade and Adirondack chairs from Swift Creek Goods.

Unlike the cost typically associated with most woodworking projects, pallets can be acquired at little to no cost. Some artists work with pallets as their primary business, while others just want extra spending money.

“I am a disabled Navy Veteran,” says Hal Whisnant of Swift Creek Goods. “My brain injury means I have good days and bad days. Because pallets are found at low to zero cost and I can build when I feel up to it, building with pallets has given me the ability to support my family in a way I haven’t been able to for many years.”

art2The pallet world is opening its doors to novices through “pallet parties.” Popular nationwide, artists offer short classes that allow newbies to create customized pallet art.

“For a small fee to cover cost of supplies, each participant buys a blank pallet canvas, and we supply the paint, brushes, stencils, etc., and they get to make their own creations,” says Meghan Pettet of Carolina Homemade.

“We have used this concept for fundraisers as well and the feedback has been extremely positive.”

Etsy’s guide to Raleigh local vendors: 

• Unrefined Designs, LLC

• The Crafty Sea Otter

• Southern Home Design

• Swift Creek Goods

• Hot Shot Palletworks

• Pallets4Paws

• Carolina Homemade

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