Making My Ping Pong Paddle!

I decided to make my auction paddle by stripping an existing one of its rubber and foam padding and applying the art directly onto the wood. Whilst the easiest thing to do would have been to simply print a dynamic image out and then stick it onto the wood, that seemed like a copout to me. I think it would have looked as half-assed as it was… not to say my end result didn’t end up being half-assed, but that was due to poor time management and inexperience, not a poor concept.

One side of my sprayed paddle. The handle is covered with masking tape to keep it red.
The reverse side of my paddle. I was going to print red on yellow on one side and yellow on red on this side.












I decided to use a cut-out template and spray paint. I’d never done anything like this before, so I thought ‘At the very least, I can learn something from this.’ And I did; it;s not as easy as you’d think to get good results.

My template printouts

I altered my previous designs in photoshop to try and have a good single colour contrast, then printed them out to use as templates.

The template cut from the front

I began cutting out the block black areas with a scalpel before getting into the fine line work, which I had intentionally tried to limit, as I knew I was going to have to cut it all out later. As I worked, I kept flipping the paper to get a sense of how my paddle would actually end up looking.

The reverse side of the first template

The process of doing teaches so much so fast; whilst I was essentially drawing with a scalpel, needing to ensure that no part of the template was cut off proved immensely challenging. I ended up losing all the detail of the left eye, as it formed a complete circle around the eye socket, removing the paper entirely. This was one of the prices I paid to try and ‘craft’ my paddle instead of just sticking an image onto it.

First side of my paddle ready for spraying


Once the template was ready, it was time to apply the paint. I stuck the template to the wood with  blue-tac in places that I felt would stop the template moving.

First side of paddle finished

As you may notice from the above image, I overestimated the quality of my preparations and underestimated the power of the spray-can. The paint actually went under the template in many areas and as that conspicuous yellow dot right in the middle of my paddle shows, only the blu-tack itself could stop it cleanly. Nevertheless, the risk was worth taking and I can now say I have both put artwork outside in the real world and done some spray-stencilling, although never both in the same place at the same time. So I haven’t broken the law that way. Ahem.

Second side template preparation

I had text on the second side. Times new roman if I remember correctly, to synergise with Boris being of The City and the font being of the broadsheets and whatnot. It’s good when you can give reasons for why you use a certain font: it means you thought about it, and I highly recommend thinking about things, but I digress. Cutting out the font with a scalpel wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was quite labour intensive and, with everything else, a serious mistake meant having to start over, but all in all, it could be something I do again in the future.

Reverse side of second template

As I flipped over my template in preparation to cut out the eye areas, one of those moments where the process unexpectedly informs the end result occurred; I saw the above image and laughed, so I knew there wasn’t much point adding (or subtracting in this case) much more than this to the eyes. The look of childish glee was what I was going for with the image in the first place. The reference image was of Boris finding out he’d become the new Mayor of London, so I was definitely going for excitement on his face.

Second side sprayed, with a bit of blu-tack still on, no less…

I quick shake and a spray later and there I was with my finished paddle. Not the best conceived or the best produced, but this was my first. And having done a first, that means there can be a second and a third. Will there be? Not in time for our ping pong charity auction, but I’ve got spare paddles waiting to be prepped, and since I didn’t get any ping pong balls…


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