Painting the town, naturally

The Xpress recently ran an article on some very expensive natural paint made in the area. I thought I should share my paint recipe with people so they can make at it home to avoid the $35/gallon price tag.

Start with a container of cottage cheese. Mash the cheese through a metal window screen to get the curds as small as possible to ease the mixing process. Then fill the cottage container about 1/3 full of borax. (Borax is available at some grocery stores in the laundry aisle and is sold under the 20 Mule Team name.) Add this borax to one part (one cottage container full) of hot water. Stir this to dissolve the borax then add to the cottage cheese. At this point, you have the binder made. This is what makes the paint dry hard enough not to dust.

Next, add the colors. In the past, to make a white paint I’ve used some mostly white clay (from Highwater Clays), but of course it’s not quite as white as titanium dioxide. Add about three parts of this clay and enough water to make a paint consistency, then brush it on. If you want to do a color, add no clay and try experimenting with some stuff. You can use the pigments sold at Highwater (ask the sales people about which ones are safe), or some folks have used Rit dye or a small amount of latex paint with the base. You probably need to add some clay to this as well, just to give the paint some bulk.

It’s so cheap to make it doesn’t seem to matter if you don’t like the outcome, because you can always make a little more. I’ve only used this recipe applied to earthen plaster, so your mileage may vary. Good luck!

— Joseph Crawley
Asheville

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