Are you looking for an ancient, natural, and eco-friendly alternative to traditional paints? Look no further than using the milk paint technique!
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of milk paint, how to make it at home or which powder to use, and some tips and tricks for using it in your next DIY miniature project.
Also, we will be having a look at Synje’s work from “AroundtheBlockMinis”, who uses this technique to repaint her vintage-style miniature furniture and more.
So pour yourself a glass of milk and let’s get started!
Mooove Over, Traditional Paints: What Is The Milk Painting Technique?
In ancient times, paint was always made from stuff that people had available in their everyday life, such as milk, eggs, clay, some wheat for that extra little crunch, and more.
Milk paint was developed on the basis of the old milk-based recipes that have been used for centuries.
Milk paint has already been used in Egyptian pyramids and in cave paintings. And in North America, it has long been used to decorate furniture, walls, barns, and more.
It is a very versatile type of paint.
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Painting the Town White: A DIY Guide to Creating Milk Paint
1. Create Milk paint with a powder.
The easy way of making milk paint is by buying it in the form of powder in a resealable package.
All you have to do here is mix 1 part of powder with about 1 part of water, like in the video below.
Once mixed with water, you should probably use it the same day, because it won’t last long after that, because after all, it has no additives to keep it longer.
So just don’t make more milk paint than you need, you can add some paint later if needed.
Milk paint will not go bad as long as it stays in the package in powder form and is packaged airtight.
If mixed right, the paint should be smooth and thin enough to easily be dipped from a brush. If the mixture is too thick, you can always add some water, and the opposite: when too thin, add a little paint powder.
The funny thing about milk paint is that the starting color of the powder actually has the color of the final paint layer, even after you added water.
One product that seems to be bought a lot as the basic powder is called “General Finishes milk paint “, and it has a variety of colors for you to choose from.
2. How to make milk paint the old-fashioned way
You might as well mix your own milk paint in the good old way and here’s what you need:
- 1 cup of milk (which kind doesn’t matter)
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice or vinegar
- Natural pigments
- a cheesecloth
How to proceed to make the milk paint:
- Heat up the milk in a saucepan on low heat.
- Very slowly add the lime juice or vinegar to the heated milk while stirring constantly.
- Continue to stir until the mixture begins to curdle and separate into curds and whey.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Use a cheesecloth or fine strainer to separate the curds from the whey, then discard the whey (if any).
- Adding natural pigments is optional.
Mix the pigments and curds thoroughly until you achieve the right consistency.
Your milk paint is now ready to use!
Whichever method you use or make the milk paint, make sure to always stir the paint during the paint job because the pigments can sink to the bottom.
On which surfaces can milk paint be applied?
Milk paint can be applied on porous surfaces such as unpainted wood, stone, concrete, and plaster.
It is less suitable on non-porous surfaces such as lacquered or painted surfaces, furniture that is treated with wax or oil, glass, metal, ceramics, etc. (it will chip off if applied)
Milk paint can be applied with a paint roller or brush, but it is better to use a brush, especially for miniature furniture.
This type of paint dries up after about 30 minutes, after which you could apply a second coat.
If the layer of paint feels a bit rough after drying, sand it with medium sandpaper or a sanding block after about 1 to 2 hours.
How to use milk paint for a vintage and “chipped” look?
Now, as we are also going to represent a fantastic miniaturist who uses the milk painting technique for vintage miniature furniture, we will explain a little bit more about how this works.
The milk painting technique is ideal for decorative painting techniques, which is also in the world of chalk paint.
You can sand milk paint, crackle a layer of this paint or even use patina or antique wax, lime wax, or color wax and give it a charming look.
In the past, people applied milk paint to lacquered furniture and by doing so, the “Chippy Look” was discovered by accident.
To get this vintage Chippy look, you can apply milk paint to a non-porous smooth surface, such as lacquer or satin gloss paint, or an old wax layer.
Because of the non-porous surface, the milk paint cannot penetrate the object and it will peel off when it dries. This causes “cracks” and pieces of paint to chip off.
To get to know the process a little bit more, I have found a great video tutorial for you:
Sometimes this effect is not like you would expect it to finish. Because every surface is different, you should be prepared for surprises and be willing to experiment!
How to finish a milk-painted project?
So as I mentioned before, if milk paint is applied to a porous surface, this kind of paint is very strong and wear-resistant and will continue to harden over time.
The best proof of this is the thousands of years old caves that still have existing drawings made by this mixture of milk and lime.
But however, milk paint can be sensitive to a few things, like grease stains, for example, and thus it can be useful to finish the milk paint layer.
You can finish milk paint with a simple wax or varnish.
Milk paint pros and cons
While the milk painting technique is a unique way of painting (miniature) furniture, this doesn’t mean it is all roses and sunshine, but it can have a few cons as well.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the pros and cons of this technique!
- Milk paint contains 100% biodegradable and natural ingredients, making it an eco-friendly choice.
- Using milk paint is safe and contains no solvents, preservatives, or other additives
- it dries quickly
- the colors of milk paint can be very vibrant and lively
- You can use milk paint as a wash or stain by adding extra water to the recipe ( 1 part powder to 3 parts water)
- Versatile: milk paint can be used on a variety of surfaces, but if you want a vintage and Chipped effect, you need to apply it on non-porous surfaces.
- Milk paint is easy to mix.
- and finally, milk paint is very durable, it will last you for many years.
- Traditional paints have a larger variety of colors to choose from
- using milk paint requires a little bit of preparation, it’s not just ready-to-use
- If you don’t want to get the “chipped” effect, you need to seal the project
- Milk paint is not waterproof
- Because of the use of natural ingredients, it can be more difficult to get consistent results, compared to traditional paint.
Who creates miniature furniture with the milk painting technique?
So far, I haven’t seen anyone else using this technique with milk paint in the miniature world than Synje from Around The Block Minis.
If you have, please do let me know!
Let’s have a closer look at Synje’s Etsy store to admire her work!
But first: who is the person behind “Around The Block Minis”?
I have contacted Synje and I will let her tell us in her own words about who she is 😉
” So, I have talked about mostly selling vintage or prefabricated pieces.
My specialty is painting specific techniques with milk paint. There are not many people using milk paint because it can be so unpredictable.
I used to be known for refinishing and selling life-size furniture under the name of Around the Block Shabby Chic.
( you can also follow her on Instagram )
I was doing that until my health took a turn for the worse. I am a very private person and do not speak of my autoimmune disease but it got to a point where I had to look in a different direction.
That is where I used my knowledge of paints and applied them to minis.
I used to work as an IT specialist and that is where I learned that customer service is so important and that’s why I do everything possible to make my customers happy.
I always include a cute mini surprise in every Etsy package. I keep track of who gets what gift so they never receive the same gift and they seem to really enjoy that..
I had one incident where the customer assumed that two of my vintage pieces were built by me due to a language barrier.
I felt bad that she was unhappy with what she got. So, I checked out her Instagram account and sent her another piece in her style, and shipped it to her without charge. She was very happy in the end.”
A little picture gallery on her work with the milk painting technique.
Let us just have her pictures do some more talking, shall we?
These are all unique and have the “chipping effect”.
My Final Conclusion
I hope that I could answer all of your questions about what is the milk painting technique.
Aren’t these vintage miniature furniture pieces fine as well, so lovely!
Anyway if you have any more questions on this topic or would just like to chat with me, you can always ask them down below in the comment section or join me on my social media pages or Facebook group which is getting larger by the day.
I wish you happy crafting!
My name is Lizzy, and I am an amateur miniaturist obsessed with everything in the dollhouse and miniature world, ever since I was a teenager.
I love to write as well about all things happening in the miniature world, hence the reason why I created this blog!
I wish you happy reading and crafting!