I have a strong affinity for anything with “milk” in its title: Milk Duds, milk shakes, milk glass…you get the picture. Milk paint is another one of my crushes. This simple concoction of earth pigment, casein (milk protein), lime and water was used by the ancient Egyptians and apparently adorned some artifacts in King Tut’s tomb. Although used for centuries and widely associated with the muted hues of the American Colonial period, milk paint is making a revived splash in interior design.
Miss Mustard Seed, a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania company specializing in painted and refinished furniture, has recently launched its own milk paint line. Available in an array of twelve freshly updated colors in lovable names such as “Tricycle”, “Typewriter”, and “Kitchen Scale”, Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint invites forlorn surfaces to sing again. Milk paint isn’t just for furniture; it can be used on kitchen cabinetry, woodwork, and walls too.
If you haven’t worked with milk paint before, you’re in for a treat. There are a few differences between milk paint and latex emulsion paint. Milk paint is made and shipped in powder form and is mixed with warm water in small batches. It also acts like a stain versus a coating, so it soaks into the wood. If the surface is in good shape, milk paint does not require a primer coat, unlike latex or oil paints. Milk paint is much thinner than latex paint, dries quite quickly and has a matte finish. Typically two coats of paint are applied for a uniform color. Milk paint will often chip off of the surface when lightly abraded after it has dried, which is typically an intended effect. Often, a separate under color of a contrasting hue is applied so chipping of the top coating reveals the color below. If chipping and distressing is not desired, a bonding agent can be added to the mixture to prevent chipping and maintain an even application. Finally, the paint is sealed by a separate layer of wax, hemp oil or varnish on top.
Manufactured in Canada by Homestead House Paint Company (www.homesteadhouse.ca) milk paint contains no VOC’s, is environmentally friendly and all-natural. To boot, milk paint is slightly alkaline, naturally inhibiting the growth of mold and mildew. It also draws in carbon dioxide from the air as it further hardens. Sounds as wholesome as a glass of milk.
Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint can be purchased online at over 80 retailers including The Old Lucketts Store, Lucketts, Virginia (www.luckettstore.com) . Check out the full retailer list at www.missmustardseedsmilkpaint.com/retailers/.
Milk paint tutorials by Miss Mustard Seed: