Dennis and Gail Roberts have discovered a way to create art where they get at least part of their materials for free.
The Knightdale couple repurposes old wooden pallets, which they collect from local companies to turn into signs and other designs. “There are places that are more than glad to have you take them off their hands,” Gail Roberts says of the pallets.
She tells her husband what shape she needs for a piece and he takes apart the pallets and rebuilds them, removing nails, sanding the slats and sometimes staining them. “I’m just the carpenter,” Dennis Roberts said.
Gail Roberts then uses paint and stencils to make letters and designs, applying the paint one letter or design at a time with a sponge and small brushes.
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She said she always liked doing crafts, and her husband, who works in the meat department at Sam’s Club, has long had an interest in carpentry. Their son, who makes pottery, suggested the couple try doing some crafts with old pallets. When they tried selling some of their early work at Christmas shows a couple years ago, it worked out well enough for them to continue with the projects.
In addition to the works they sell at Raleigh-area art shows, they also do custom work, getting orders from word of mouth as well as their Facebook and Etsy pages.
Her sister, for instance, wanted a place for her cats to stay outside. They designed a bench for the front porch with an open area to keep blankets for the cats underneath. “I thought it was cute that she had a way to accommodate her cats without it looking ugly,” Gail Roberts said.
They’ve also done work for a handful of weddings, including a table for the registration book and signs with the names of the couple and date of the wedding. They’ve also made mirrors and crates for keeping diapers.
“We’re just doing new stuff all the time,” Gail Roberts said, “and trying it out at shows and seeing what people like.”
Much of what they do is seasonal. They have turned pallets into shapes such as Christmas trees, reindeer, snowmen, pumpkins, hearts and Easter bunnies. A series of American-flag-themed pieces for July 4th have been very popular, they said.
On Facebook, they have had people from as far away as Japan, Malaysia and Australia complimenting their work, although they have not started shipping anything internationally yet. They have, though, done work for people as far away as California, Wyoming and Kansas.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826
See more Pallet Art
To see some of the Roberts’ work, visit facebook.com/palletdesignandsigns or etsy.com/shop/PalletDesignSigns.