Fire In the Soul

Fire In the Soul
"Fire In the Soul" From the Merka series in The Elves of the Woodland Realm

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What is milk paint and why you would want to use it.

Them Two Birds Organic Milk Paint

On the side I paint, refinish and build furniture and home interiors. I have a booth at two local antique shops, Woodstock Antiques and Marietta Antique Mall. However, I also do work for local businesses and designers. This coffee table is a piece for a designer. She wanted a red and grey distressed finish.

 I found a product by another local company here in the ATL, Them Two Birds. They create barn doors, rustic furniture and interiors using repurposed vintage and antique barn wood. They also have a line of paint called milk paint. What is milk paint you ask and why is it different from any other paint products?
Safe Paint in Barn Red
Genuine milk paint is technically a calcium-caseinate. That means simply that it is made from milk protein, (also known as casein) and lime, (also known as calcium), plus the earth or mineral pigments. There are casein paints of many varieties as well as casein glues and adhesive coatings. About a hundred years ago in Germany a casein paint was made using formaldehyde instead of lime. Another formula used borax instead of lime. Still another used additives like synthetic plastics such as acrylics, vinyls or acetates, and the list goes on and on. Many of these formulations are good paints, as are oil and latex. But they are NOT milk paints, so don't be confused with these other paints or chalk paint. I will do a post on chalk paint later.

Genuine milk paint should be as close as possible to the old primitive, home-made paint made on the back porch with skim milk or buttermilk, crushed limestone and pigments found around clay pits, or chimney soot and mineral colors crushed and powdered. This original paint goes back about 6000 and more years as evidence by early cave paintings. Them Two Birds milk paint is exactly that. It is manufactured here in the US, using natural, organic ingredients.

As it is free of:
- VOC's
- HAP's
-solvents or harmful poisons of any kind
-petroleum by-products
-synthetic preservatives
or odors it is safe to use on kid's furniture, toys, walls and whatever else you can think of. It is also excellent for those that are pregnant/nursing, trying to live a greener lifestyle or those with chemical allergies. Or people like me who a bit of all of the above. Also, the use of genuine milk paints can help you obtain credits toward LEED certification (LEED - NC IEQ Cedit 4.2- low emitting materials- paints & coatings).

Them Two Birds offers several different colors, including exclusive colors! It comes in pints and quarts and 2 different formulas. Original milk paint excellent for porous and bare surfaces and the safe paint formula for non-porous surfaces and finished surfaces. The safe paint formula, meaning safe for walls and non-porous is excellent for covering large surface areas. It is a bit smoother than the original formula.. I will be use ing the new formula on this project becasue it has a finish on it. 

This was a simple process:
1. Apply wax where I wanted the paint to come off
2. Apply the first color I wanted to show through
3. Apply more wax where I want the gray to show through
4. Apply the top color
5. Distress the piece
6. Apply a coat of tung oil (or hemp oil) for lasting protection

It comes in power form in a reseal able bag, which is fabulous! You simple mix however much you need with equal parts water. Now, I personally prefer to mix it a little on the thicker side when using it on non-porous or finished surfaces. It is not thick like latex or oil. The safe paint goes on pretty smooth, but there will be some unmixed powder in it, this is normal. Remember this is not latex. The original formula actually gets absorbed into the wood, kind of like a stain. Compared to latex that sits on top of the surface.

After all my steps, this is what I have:

The client was very happy with the piece. She wanted more red than grey showing and not too distressed.  The oil take roughly 24 hours to dry and 7 days to completely cure. After it is cured the finish is extremely durable and water resistant. For more information on their products and services, you can contact Them Two Birds on their website or Etsy shop.

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