The pioneer’s milk paint

What did Calamity Jane do when she took a break from her shooting routine to paint the saloon walls? She got some milk.

The great gunslinger and all her mates used the white liquid to make their own paint. And they were not the first ones to do so. Apparently, some 30,000 years before them, in Australia, prehistorical humans had a great time decorating their cave walls with the same ingredients. Later, artists in ancient Egypt to tell their life story on Tutankhamen’s tomb walls.

If you don’t like paints giving off noxious vapours – aka Volatile Organic Compounds, code name VOCs – try this easy DIY, eco-friendly and lovely recipe.

It is perfect for walls, but previously oil painted surfaces should be stripped first. Wooden surfaces, including exterior timber cladding, should be lightly sanded for better paint adhesion.

Play your favourite David Bowie album and dance for a couple of minutes. Then, in a happy go lucky mood, mix 3 cups of skim powdered milk with 3 cups of water, stir well to get a paint-like consistency. Apply it joyfully and smooth it with a paintbrush. When you’re done, clean your brushes in water and put any left-over paint in a tightly sealed jar and keep in the fridge till the following morning.

Let your work dry 24 hours before applying the second coat which needs 72 hours to dry. It’s rather long, but after these 3 days, the good news is that the paint will stand up to any weather without flaking or crumbling. Stand back and proudly admire the slightly shiny opaque finish.

For walls and wood, you can try this other recipe after lightly sanding the surfaces to prepare them.

Mix the juice of a beautiful lemon with 1 quart of skim milk in a large bowl. Leave the mixture overnight at room temperature to induce curdling. In winter, put it in a warm place. The following morning at the crack of dawn, line a lovely sieve with a cute cheesecloth. Pour your mixture through it. Half an hour later, contemplate the yogurt like affair lying in the sieve: it is your paint. Smile, scoop it out carefully and put it in a jar.

If you want colour, add 4 tablespoons of dry colour pigment – available at art-supply stores –, acrylic paint or food colouring. If you use acrylic paint or food colouring add it one drop at a time, and stir constantly until you achieve the desired hue. Whether pigment or acrylic-based, milk paint will spoil quickly, so it should be applied within a few hours of mixing or after 2 days in the fridge.

If you need a larger amount of paint, double or treble both recipes. Make sure to prepare enough to avoid making a fresh batch. You might not be able to get the same exact colour again.

Now that your paint is ready, mix it thoroughly and fire away.

                                You’ll find other clever and easy recipes in Le Dictionnaire à tout faire anticrise