Ode to the humble paint chip

Dear Auntie Moonbeam,

Ahh the paint chip. Deceptively simple and often overlooked.

I’m obsessed with paint chips. I love the little buggers. I should mention I’m a designer and my place can be lousy with the things.

I use them for a variety of things – writing lists, cheap home decor, bookmarks, straight edge rulers. I even have a dedicated paint chip drawer thanks to my pretty painted lady. Thanks hon!

Paint chip drawer

I like the elegance of their design. The gradients of colours, the illogically poetic names, the promise of room altering possibilities.

I cannot pass the paint counter without swiping some samples. And I use the word ‘swipe’ deliberately. Every time I scoop ’em up I feel guilty. I move clandestinely to avoid exposing just how many I’ve taken. Why? They’re free. I have every right to walk out of the store with dozens if I please!

One day I came across a blue strip o’ awesome sitting on top of my sketchbook and it was one of those ‘duh’ lightbulb moments.

Paint chips as a canvas? Sure, why not!


I picked some images that lent themselves to a tall skinny sketch – New York townhouse anyone? The others I won’t name – doughnuts to the first person who can correctly guess the other three!


Then what to do with them? They lived for a while tucked into frames or sitting around on tables. But I knew there had to be someone special out there for them…

Then I found this frame on the side of the road. It had an ugly blue/green/brown patina but nothing a coat of white spray paint couldn’t fix. (Aside: I just realized this might look nice with a finishing coat of glossy white…hmmm, thoughts?)

Paint Chip Frame

Around the same time my mom turned me onto a truly fabulous invention by those clever folks at 3M. Glue that gives you a post-it note style adhesion. Oh the possibilities! You can turn anything into a post-it note!

Paint chip sketch 1


The thing I love most about this method of mounting the chips is the impermanence. I can, and have, swapped these around on a whim. And I can switch them out for new sketches as I make more.

Paint chip sketch 2

As you can see the mistake for this project (there always has to be one) was my dumb thumb smearing the sketch while the ink was still wet. Although because of the slick surface on a paint chip this could happen at any time so handle with care!

So there you go – cost of the project: a whoppin’ zero dinero!

    • Stolen Free paint chips
    • Found frame
    • White paint (already in my stash)
    • Special awesome glue (already in my stash but retails for only a couple of bucks at most craft stores)

Anyone else as obsessed with paint chips as me? Anyone else pick up stuff off the side of the road? Anyone else leave the paint aisle surreptitiously tucking samples into their bag like a teenager stealing lipstick at the mall?


14 thoughts on “Ode to the humble paint chip

  1. Cool use of the paint chips Becky! Like you I have them oozing out of drawers. Everyone now
    and again, I go on a tear for a particular shade, and end up going to all the paint stores in town!!
    I share your love of the possibilities of change!!

  2. I can’t really comment on the colours or aesthetic of this. But in one word: awesomeness. Your predilection for paint chips is foreign to my sensibilities but I salute your honesty in sharing that part of yourself.

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