Sunday, August 28, 2011

Free Plans

Free Woodworking plans link found HERE

Make your own paint

With cheap, non-toxic ingredients

So where to get the least costly, non-toxic, low-energy paint?

The answer lies in a trip to the milk-bar. A couple of litres of skim milk will form the base for enough paint to begin experimenting. The next stop is the hardware store for some builder's lime (also called slaked or hydrated lime) and plaster of Paris. Apart from some water and your choice of pigment, these are all the ingredients you will need.

There are several variations on what is usually referred to as `milk paint'. One involves mixing lime into a thick paste with a little water, then gradually adding milk until it reaches a paint-like consistency. I was told about this method by a friend of mine, Salvatore, who had used it while growing up in Italy in the 1930's and 40's. Both ingredients were widely available, and used with various pigments, milk paint is attractive and durable. I tried the recipe using bottled skim milk, though Salvatore recommends milk directly from the cow, with the cream skimmed from the top.
Sieve the lime before mixing it with the milk, and let it sit for several hours, though found that it was still quite lumpy. Straining the mixture through muslin makes it much smoother. I used the paint on old unpainted weatherboards, and got good coverage-once it dried it actually looked like paint!

An internet search revealed some other paint recipes. One that I tried consists of plaster of Paris as the main solid ingredient, mixed with a little lime and skim milk. Again, filtering through muslin cloth to remove lumps is a good idea. This paint was similar to the lime paint, but where the lime-only paint was powdery when dry, the plaster of Paris set a lot harder.

Creating colours

There are many options for colouring milk paint. For a straight white, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are good. Calcium carbonate or chalk will make the paint more opaque. Iron oxide (rust) is easy to manufacture at home from steel wool or iron filings, and gives the paint a nice ochre colour. Many traditional paints used wild berries for colouring. Again, the muslin cloth comes in handy for removing pips. If you're concerned about being able to replicate your colours, you could compromise and buy some ready-made pigment from an art supplies shop.
Cleaning up

Besides the obvious advantage of not having to inhale pungent vapours, cleaning up these paints with water was dead simple. I didn't have to worry too much about tipping the cleaning-up water on the garden, although too much lime can be a bad thing for soil. Lime and milk paint also comes off hands and clothes much more readily than other paint. While lime is alkaline and can cause skin to dry out and feel `burnt' after prolonged contact, it is easy to dip your hands in a bucket while you paint, or wear gloves. If you get lime in your eyes flush them with cold water immediately.

Finishing the surface

One disadvantage of milk paint is that it can be marked by water. Sealing will eliminate this problem, and will make the finish generally easier to clean in `high splash' areas like the kitchen. A range of finishes can be used, including linseed oil and Danish oil. The roughness of the surface caused by particles of lime can be smoothed with steel wool or sandpaper before applying the finish.

What the ingredients do

Why milk and lime? The first reason is that they are cheap and readily available, which is why milk and lime mixes were the most commonly used paint until the mid-1800's. Most importantly, though, they have a synergistic effect that makes great paint. Milk contains a salt called casein, which reacts with calcium in lime to form calcium caseinate, a resin that binds itself with pigments in the paint and the surface the paint is applied to. Many people complain of the great difficulty in removing the bottom layer of paint on old doors and window frames-in many cases, that's well-cured milk paint. The combination also means that once cured, milk paint will no longer be alkaline.
Make your own milk paint:
Home-made paint recipes
Basic lime and milk paint
Mix in one part of lime with twelve parts of skim milk (you can measure by either weight or volume). Add pigment until desired colour is achieved.
Lime, milk and plaster of Paris paint
Skim milk 1.5 cups
Lime 30 g
Plaster of Paris 240 g
Mix skim milk with lime while stirring briskly until the lime is thoroughly dispersed.
Add plaster of Paris and pigment until desired colour is achieved
Allow the mixture to sit for an hour or until it stops bubbling.
When painting, stir the mixture every five minutes to prevent the solid ingredients settling.
Washing up
Use water, and a little soap. Unlike commercial synthetic paints, the residue can safely be poured onto the garden, though be careful not to tip too much lime on one area.

Blank Recipe cards