Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Tips on using Milk Paint

If there is still someone out there that doesn't know what milk paint is. I will attempt to give you a description. Milk Paint has been around for hundreds of years. Used mostly during the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain and the States. It is a paint made from  "casein" which is derived from cows milk, natural colored pigments, water and a bit of lime. So it is all-natural and safe for the environment. Since it has a very limited shelf life as a liquid you can now buy it in powder form that you mix with water. The benefit of milk paint is also the negative. It will randomly chip, peel and flake. Giving those painted items a distressed, antique look. I say it is also a negative because you cannot control when, where, or if it is going to chip or flake. Well, maybe..........
Milk Paint Tips 
I use Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint because it is relatively inexpensive and readily available. I had read about it on-line, tried it and liked the results.  

Plus, they also have complimentary products to go with the paint such as Hemp Oil, Clear Wax and Antiquing wax.

I am a bit of a control freak so you wouldn't think that I would like milk paint at all. But I actually love it. Especially now that I have come up with these two tricks:

1) Sometimes Milk Paint doesn't chip or peel like you want it to. Fear not, I have discovered a method of helping achieve that :
- Place masking tape over the freshly dried paint in random areas where you would like it to peel and then after about 10-15 minutes, rip it off (like a band-aid!). The paint may now come off in some spots.... It also may not come off at all. Sorry. No guarantees, milk paint is rather temperamental after all . But I have used this method repeatedly with mostly great results.
-If the paint still doesn't peel off, you may have to leave the tape on longer, or even burnish (rub) the tape down. But only try this if the first way doesn't work. Keep in mind the tape may take all of the paint off exactly where you have laid the tape. In the same straight line as the tape. So try and keep this fairly random and don't use totally straight pieces of tape. Tear it up and then apply. Or wrap a piece of tape around your hand (sticky side out as if you were going to take lint off your pants) and dab it here and there.
- If it doesn't work at first, don't give up, keep trying. Once I had to leave the tape on overnight before it worked. Just don't let the paint dry for too long before you apply the tape.
2).  What if you want the paint to come off in some areas but not everywhere? 
-Since you know that if you don't want the milk paint to peel off at all, you just have to add the bonding agent to your paint mixture. Like for instance say you want the paint to peel on the panels of the cabinet doors but not on the trim.
Now I know this one seems obvious but you would be surprised how many people that I talked to never thought of trying this.
Then..........Wait for it.............make two batches of the same paint color!
One with the bonding agent for the places you don't want it to peel and one batch without the bonding agent for the places you would like it to peel.
-Again there is no guarantee that it will peel just because you want it to. But try the tape method above if it is not co-operating.

Good luck and have fun with it.
And don't forget to seal your project with wax, oil or an appropriate varnish to protect it after all of that hard work.
There are a few small examples on this blog using the milk paint with very different results. Check them out!

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