Milk Paint is an ancient organic paint made using basic, natural ingredients; milk protein (casein), lime, clay, and earth pigments such as ochre, umber, iron oxide, lampblack, etc. It makes the most colour-durable finish available, and is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and food safe, containing no chemicals, preservatives, fungicides, hydrocarbons or any other petroleum derivatives. Home-made Milk Paint has been around for centuries, and is probably the earliest form of paint available. It was heavily used by settlers in North America, and has come to epitomise the character and style of Early American and Colonial architecture and interiors. Now commercially available, it arrives in powder form to be mixed with water, and can be madeup in small or large batches.
So, as well as being perfect renovation projects where authenticity is really important, it also happens to be very tough and durable (the colour never fades), is totally safe for children and pets, and is SO easy and fun to work with (on bare wood it is self priming). By its very nature you can’t really go wrong – and you can mix up as much or as little as you need ~ the colour doesn’t change. So if it is too thin, add some more powder, too thick add some more water, and give it another coat. Experimentation is encouraged!
I’ve had a lot of fun with it over the years, and it can be used to restore or recycle older pieces of furniture and give them a new lease of life. But is also by wood-workers and turners on brand new or hand-made furniture to give it age and character. In that case it is totally self priming and couldn’t be easier to use. On older pieces, which may have layers of wax, varnish or old paint, if you want it to bond and give a solid cover you will probably need to mix it with ‘Extra Bond’. But many people deliberately choose not to, as they like the way it peels and flakes in patches to give it a chippy, aged look. The ‘self-distressed’ piece can then be finished with wax, varnish or oil in the normal way to ‘set’ it. (Many oils and waxes will change the colour slightly and give it a sheen. If you want a completely matt finish and no colour change then choose a matt acryclic varnish).
I will be going into a lot more detail about the various techniques, finishes and products over the coming weeks, and will be putting together some detailed tutorials and videos to help you. I also have a few little projects on the go which I can share along the way ~ will be busy painting this weekend so hopefully some before and after pictures to upload soon.
In the meantime, why not buy some paint, a brush and have a go! Each pack comes with full mixing instructions so you can’t go far wrong.