I have recently purchased an aluminum palette that is enameled on the surface. However upon testing it concentrated watercolors I see it beads severely. I have heard some that use Bar Keeper's Friend (a cleaning product), which acts as a mild abrasive. If baking soda is also a mild abrasive, would it work too? How else would I go about this?

  • Testing? Beading? Can you be a little specific about what you are talking about? – Nothingismagick Jan 27 '18 at 8:18
  • The water comes up to a tiny area, and upon surface contact collects up into a little bead of water. Its caused by the surface tension of it, and the nonporosity of the surface. Its similar how water behaves on a new plastic palette. – AWolfFox Jan 27 '18 at 14:59
  • Are you using watercolor? – Nothingismagick Jan 27 '18 at 17:47
  • Yes, watercolor is used – AWolfFox Jan 27 '18 at 17:52
  • Then please state that in the question - and tell us if you are using dry watercolor or from the tube or thinned acrylic or oil paints with varnish... – Nothingismagick Jan 27 '18 at 22:02

The aluminum aspect of the palette has little bearing on the problem describe, but the enamel surface is the biggest concern. Enamel, unless otherwise modified, is going to be smooth and glossy, the worst circumstance for your undesirable water beading.

You aren't far off to consider to abrade the surface, but baking soda is not particularly abrasive. It's more likely to dissolve and become useless for the purpose.

High grit count sandpaper may be faster and more effective. Consider to look for 400 or 800 or even 1200 grit sandpaper, most often called wet/dry sandpaper. Hardware stores and big box stores will usually stock such products, as will painting stores, but for a higher price.

You'd place the palette in a stream of gently flowing water and scuff the surface of the enamel while keeping the sandpaper wet. The water prevents the sanded material from clogging the grit and may perform other tasks that escape my alleged mind at the moment.

You'd be able to angle the palette to a light source and observe the extent of the abrasion while performing the scuffing. Additionally, you can observe how the water beads on the untouched area while flowing over the portions you've sanded.


There are a lot of things you can try.

First, you can mix the concentrated paint on the palette, which is probably how it was intended - if you really have a palette intended for water color and not oil paint. Then wet the brush and use the wet brush to pick up the mixed paint.

Or you could try to take some 400 grit sandpaper and lightly buff the surface, breaking the surface.

I suspect you are using the wrong kind of paint for the palette.

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