Milk paint has been around in one form or another for thousands of years. It is suggested that early cave paintings, some dating back as far as 20,000 years ago, were made of a simple combination of milk, lime, and earth pigments. In the early days of America (and even earlier in Europe) painters carried dry pigments with them which could then be combined with farmer's or homeowner's milk and lime.
These days modern paints are often stinky and have fumes which may linger for weeks. No VOC paints are becoming more popular but still aren't as health or earth friendly as milk paint.
Milk paint generally contains five all-natural ingredients...
Casein - Milk protein, which is why it is called "milk paint". Casein acts as the binder for the paint and makes it creamy.
Chalk & Clay - These ingredients make up the body of the paint and give it a soft, matte finish.
Limestone - This ingredient hardens the paint as the water evaporates and the paint dries, making a hard durable finish.
Natural Pigments - The pigments are what create the various colors and shades of each paint.
Milk paint is a great choice for anyone wanting an all-natural finish, for those with chemical sensitivities, or for those looking for a more historical paint finish.
Milk paint has a slightly chalky look to it, and looks and feels more natural than modern latex-based paints. Since the paint is hand mixed there are sometimes subtle variations in the color or tone, and each piece may have a slightly different look.
I use milk paint on my handmade furniture for all of these reasons and because I believe the look and feel of the paint best fits my products. I almost exclusively use Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint because their color pallet is a great fit for my farmhouse furniture and it is a quality product. Milk paint in general fits the more rustic feel of my products.
With most of my hand painted furniture, I also apply a coat of natural oil which deepens the color and adds a little extra protection to the surface. I had been using 100% Tung oil which is all natural, and provides a great finish on milk paint surfaces as well as raw wood. Tung oil is generally thinned with a citrus oil thinner (again all-natural) which helps it absorb better and dry quicker. The citrus thinner has a strong "orange" scent at first, but disappears after a few days. The Tung oil also has a strong scent, which may linger for a while depending on the size of the piece.
I've recently been trying 100% Hemp Seed Oil and may start using it exclusively. It has a milder scent, not unlike grass (not that grass!) It also doesn't need to be thinned, so there is no citrus scent. It provides a protective, water-resistant finish, and doesn't leave a surface film. It is also food-safe and can be used on items in the kitchen. With my dedication to organics, I plan to use organic hemp seed oil with my products.
If you have any questions about my products, feel free to get in touch!