Sunday, December 11, 2011

milk paint


for my next project I want to make part of an illuminated manuscript but really big and only a couple of letters, so I started looking at the illuminated manuscripts that have been around forever and noticed that along with all the beautiful gold was color that enhanced the gold, so I was trying to think of what kind of paint I would use for this glorified illuminated manuscript on wood. I want to use something that has some historical meaning as well as being very earth-based, natural, to really employ the richness I am looking for. Oh, also I need to have a good red and blue. I talked to a friend of mine the other day and he started talking about this stuff called milk paint. I did a little investigating into this stuff and as it turns out learned a bit about the history of paint as well as. Here is what I found out-

Milk paint has been around for thousands of years. It has been revealed that ancient artwork found on cave walls was applied using a form of milk paint. Artifacts including models of boats, people, and furniture found inside the burial chamber of Tutankhamen had been painted with milk paint. Supposedly the vibrancy of the milk paint color on these discovered pieces is quite remarkable. As well as for its decorative use the milk paint possesses protective properties that add to the durability of painted surfaces. It has been used for centuries to paint furniture, homes, barns, and artwork.

The "recipe" for milk paint is very environmentally -friendly; it is composed of natural ingredients- milk protein, lime, and earthen pigments. One of the drawbacks to the paint, though, is that the shelf life is not more than the length of time it takes for milk spoil, so one has to mix up a quantity that can be used up quickly. Milk paint paved the way for the creation of oil paints. By adding linseed oils, olive oils, animal glue and waxes, milk paint became very durable and could last indefinitely. Unfortunately other more toxic ingredients like lead and mercury were added as well. In 1868 the first patent was given for metal paint can with tightly fitting top and of course the commercial oil paint industry began. Then after WW ll chemists worked on developing new formulas for paints that were less toxic. In 1970 lead and mercury were no longer allowed as ingredients for commercial paint.

The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company was established in 1974 and has been making milk paint with the original safe ingredients since then.

So there you have it, what I think I will use for the colored part of my illuminated manuscript on wood. I have never really delved into the history of paint and now I feel a little more knowledgeable and am ready to make some of my own to try for my project.

I did find a recipe, so now all of you can try this too:

Milk Paint Recipe
1 quart skim milk, at room temperature
1 ounce hydrated or slacked lime by weight. This is available at building centers. Do not use quick lime which is a component of concrete and mortar since it will react with the water in the milk and heat up. Hydrated lime has been soaked in water then dried.
1 to 2 1/2 pounds of chalk may also be added as filler. Finely ground natural chalk can be found in the section of home improvement centers where cement is sold or pool supply retailers in 3 or 10 lb. packages. If you omit the chalk you will basically have a stain, which works well, especially on unfinished wood.
Stir in enough skim milk to hydrated lime to make a cream. Add the remaining portion of skim milk. Now add sufficient amount of powder pigment to desired color and consistency. Pigment powder must be lime-proof. Stir in well for a few minutes before using. For best results continue to stir throughout use. Apply milk paint with a cheap natural bristle brush. Allow project to dry sufficiently before applying next coat at least 3 to 4 hours.
Once the paint is completely dry, you can add 2 coats of color free furniture wax to protect the finish.
note: you should use your milk paint within 3 0r 4 days since the milk will go sour. Refrigerate before and after use.


SQFunkis said...

I haven't made a manuscript since my BFA thesis show. I miss it. Were you thinking eastern- or western- style?

If you have a lead on any large tree segments, send it my way -- I need to get this boat project off the ground while I'm still excited about it.

Shannon Wright said...

Ah, the Shakers used milk paint a lot too. Very cool.