Pick Your Poisonless Paint

The little Witch in me is finally feeling spring. I’m never trusting Phil again! What do groundhogs know anyway? They are saying we’re up for one more snow storm. I’ve really lost my wonder with the white stuff. It is time for it to go!

Since I’m feeling a little springy, and can’t wait for the flowers to start blooming. I thought I’d cover one of my favorite subjects: Paint! Okay, maybe it isn’t one of my favorites, but it has been on my mind lately. Actually, it has been on my mind since Valentines day when I received these beautiful purple roses. They weren’t to dark, and weren’t to light…just perfect! I hated to see them wither. However, they did wither nicely!

So, what do you do with withered roses? You make paint of course! I’m sure you were thinking the same thing. The question is…how do you make paint? Well, first you have to know a little about paint. Most of your wonderful paint colors come from natural pigments. They just have filler gunk which usually isn’t good for the environment, or you for that matter. So, how do you skip all the gunk?

You can purchase more people/ nature friendly paints. Unfortunately, you’re going to pay an arm and a leg, and probably another arm for them. Makes it sort of hard to paint…. You can save yourself the money and make your own.

At its most basic, paint consists of color. If you want to get fancy you can call it pigment. It also contains glue which keeps the color suspended. Some paints also contain other ingredients which add texture and bulk. They call these fillers. Then there is the thinner, or solvent, and other junk. There is even drying catalysts. More than you wanted to know, right?

You can pick up natural pigments, in the form of powders, at artists supply stores. If you’re like me and live in the middle of nowhere. It is quicker to find your own pigments in nature. I prefer to use dried flowers.

The glue, or binders, which keep paint glued to the wall are derived from refining crude oil. I think I’ll pass. Instead, you can use natural binders such as starch (from flour), casein (the protein in milk) and linseed oil. For fillers, you can use powdered chalk, talcum, limestone, silica and marble. Clay is also popular to pair with flour, because it reinforces the binding ability of starch and is abundant.

Thinners keep paint consistent. The thinners in commercial paints are usually volatile organic compounds. These compounds can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision and fatigue, especially in areas that are not well ventilated. Not my idea of a fun time.

So, now that you know a bit about paint. Probably more than you wanted…the question still lingers. How do you make paint? Well, let me tell you….

Basic Flour Paint
Yields 1 1/2 quarts

1 cup flour
5 1/2 cups cold water
1 cup screened clay filler (clay can be purchased in a wide variety of colors)
1/2 cup additional powder filler, such as mica

1.Mix flour with 2 cups cold water, whisking to remove lumps.
2.Bring 11/2 cups water to boil, then add the flour water from Step 1.
3.Turn heat to low, stirring until thick paste develops. Remove from heat.
4.Dilute the paste with 2 cups water, a little at a time.
5.In a separate work bowl, combine clay with powder filler.
6.Add filler mixture to diluted flour paste until desired consistency is achieved.


Oil Paint

Oil paint is suitable for exterior surfaces, and you can clean oil-painted surfaces regularly without damaging the paint. (You’ll need to use a solvent to clean brushes and equipment.) Oil paints can take a long time to dry — some will never completely harden — but this property gives the paint the advantage of remaining elastic as surfaces naturally swell and shrink.

Natural oil paints typically are made with linseed oil and a natural solvent, such as pure turpentine or citrus thinner. Choose raw linseed oil or linseed stand oil, which has been heated to a high temperature, making it more durable. (Avoid boiled linseed oil, which can contain a variety of ingredients that speed drying time, but may be hazardous to your health.)

Basic Oil Glaze

An oil glaze can serve many purposes. Sometimes you will want to put a glaze over flour or milk paints to increase water resistance. Oil glazes also make nice wood stains, with or without added color.

Yields approximately 2 cups.

1.Dissolve 1 teaspoon each pigment and whiting (powdered chalk) in approximately 1/2 cup linseed oil.
2.Stir in an additional 1/2 cup linseed oil.
3.Add 2/3 cup natural solvent and 2 tablespoons whiting, whisking to remove lumps.


Casein Paint with Lime
Yields about 1 quart

1 gallon nonfat milk
2 1/2 ounces “Type S” lime (dry powder available at hardware stores)
2 1/2 cups water
Natural earth pigment (more or less depending on desired color)
6 cups filler (usually whiting)

1.Leave milk in a warm place for a few days to curdle. Then pour through a colander lined with cheesecloth. You should have about 2 cups of curds. The whey can be composted.
2.Mix curds and lime powder in a blender. Add a little water if the mixture isn’t blending well. Strain to remove any lumps.
3.Add water to the binder immediately after it is prepared.
4.Dampen and crush pigments. Add them to the mixture a little at a time until desired color intensity is achieved.
5.Stir in filler.

Casein Paint Adjustments

After mixing your paint, test it on a small area of your surface and let it dry completely. If it doesn’t spread easily, add some water. If it dusts, add more binder. If it’s too thin, add more filler. If the color isn’t rich enough, add more crushed pigment.

Expert Tips

•When making your own paint, it is important to experiment, test, experiment, and test some more. Keep it fun! If you play for a while first, you’re sure to end up with a beautiful combination of rich colors and interesting textures.
•For best results, clean all surfaces thoroughly before painting.
•Homemade paints contain food ingredients and should be used soon after mixing. You can refrigerate them, but the binding ability may diminish.
•It may be difficult to create exactly the same color over and over again. Try to mix as much paint as you can reasonably use in one work session.
•Exercise caution when using linseed oil. Crumpled oil-soaked cloths can spontaneously combust, so be sure to wash all cloths and other materials before disposal.
•Exercise caution with all powdered and caustic materials, especially lime. Wear gloves and goggles

And happy painting!!


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