Experimenting with Natural Paints

This is something I have been meaning to do for a while, but finally got around to starting. Here is the result!


Here is the simple recipe I used: egg yolk, mineral oil, and water as a base. I ended up adding some mayo to the base to to thicken it, but that was not in the original recipe I used.

Pigments included cumin, cinnamon, curry, cayenne, sage, cocoa, and coffee grounds. Then to get a little pinks and blues I added crushed up chalk pastels. So really, mostly things from my kitchen!

One egg and mineral oil whisked together with then some water added slowly while whisking made plenty of base to do this mini painting and still have quite a bit to spare. I then put a little of each pigment I wanted to try onto a pallet and dipped my paintbrush in the base and then mixed it into the pigment. I used regular, non synthetic, acrylic brushes (which I got as a birthday present from my grandparents this winter)

Here is my “sample” page where I tested it at each stage and with each pigment:


The results were pretty good I thought. The tones I got were all very earthy and many still had some grit but that gave the paint a nice texture. If I had a mortar and pestle I may have tried grinding some of the pigments further.

You may wonder where I got my inspiration and recipes from. Well, I worked mainly from two books: Using Natural Finishes: a step-by-step guide by Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce, and The Natural Paint Book: a complete guide to natural paints, recipes, and finishes by Lynn Edwards and Julia Lawless. Both are great books with different strengths and I am really just beginning to explore them both. They are fun because they have paint and finish recipes for everything from wood, to walls, to pure decorative projects.

After this little foray into natural paints I decided to also try some natural ways to finish wood. A walk through six mile creek and ithaca falls landed me some beautiful branches and driftwood and now I have begun to nickname my room the “twig room.”

So I took one of the branches and carefully took all the bark off used a butter knife and dull screw driver. I didn’t want to use a chisel as I really just wanted the bark off and din’t want to damage the wood. Then I decided to use a recipe for a transparent oil glaze for wood. The recipe actually calls for boiled linseed oil, solvent, and pigment. I used mineral oil, mineral spirits and pigment as that was what I had around. The goal with this finish is to add a very subtle hint of color that brings out the natural grain and beauty of the wood. After painting it I decided to lightly sand it and then oil it again, which gave it a nice smooth finish.


It was nighttime when I did this so here is the finished product silhouetted with some mood lighting in my room.


Here is my progressively “twiggy-er” room in daylight


And again at night.

Ok, that is all for now! I look forward to more experiments now that I have a bit more free time on my hands due to being out of school.


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