Milk Paint Recipe

Jane Muffet ate the same thing for breakfast every day. There was only one problem:  she didn’t like the curds and whey she was served. She’d often go outside to eat, looking back at the house to make sure mother wasn’t watching as she poured the whey out at the base of the big tree in the field just west of the house. Jane’s dog Butter would always follower her out to the trunk of the tree. The smell of the whey brought him great joy and after the puddle of whey had absorbed into the ground, Butter would slowly put his nose toward the whey and sniff 4 times in quick succession. Then he’d bark, jump and roll around in it a few times before dashing off into the woods. Jane never did understand the attraction Butter had to the whey, but the routine was entertaining and always made her smile. The whey tasted terrible and smelled even worse. The curds were only just bareable.  When the apples were in season, Jane would sit by the fence and rub the curds into the wood with her fingers until it was all gone, then make her way up the orchard and fill her tummy with delicious apples off the tree. After the first slat that Jane painted was completely covered in a pale white, she worked her way to the next slat. By the end of apple season the year she was seven, Jane had covered half of the fence and her mother took notice. “I wonder who’s been painting the fence? It looks lovely!” she exclaimed.

And that’s how milk paint was born. At least in my imagination.🙂

* * * * * * *

 Milk Paint Drawer
I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, but almost every milk paint recipe I found online called for hydrated lime.  Not wanting to have to make a trip to Home Depot, I decided to cheat.  The inspiration for all this came from Julia Barnard’s book, New Decorator (now out of print, but at my local library).  Her recipe doesn’t call for lime so I figured it wasn’t a necessity.  What I finally did was a combination of things I read so I’ll put my recipe here.  I should warn you, that I’m not certain of the durability of this paint because this is the first time I’ve ever made it.

1 quart skim milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 oz acrylic paint

Mix the lemon juice with the skim milk in a clear container.   Let it sit out in room temperature for one week with a tight cover to contain the smell (I used press ‘n seal which worked just fine).  When the milk has seperated, pour off the whey and squeeze out the curds with cheesecloth to drain off the remaining whey.  Mix the curds with acrylic paint until desired color is reached.  Final color will be slightly more pale.  Paint onto wood using a paintbrush.  Wait 24 hours between coats and polish with Beeswax Polish (recipe here).

10 Responses to “Milk Paint Recipe”


  1. 1 Beth May 27, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Very cool! I’ve never tried that before.

  2. 2 Heather May 27, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    I love the story..even if you made it up. The color is lovely, maybe it would be a good project for my kids, they like to get stinky. LOL

    • 3 craftapple May 28, 2010 at 1:26 pm

      Thanks, Heather. I love to do creative writing, just don’t have the time. I let the kids watch, but they didn’t get to participate much – I was much too afraid of the mess. 🙂

  3. 4 Cathlene October 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    18 months later – any comments on durability?

  4. 5 rileyf2006 October 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Cute story. I like the lemon juice idea. i havent made it yet but what i hear is to use natural earth pigments for color to keep it real safe. you can get small quantities at art stores, but if you want to paint the house you gotta order online. just google natural earth pigments .

  5. 6 Cathlene October 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Can anyone tell me what the difference between a milk paint made with lemon juice, and one made with lime, is? Thanks

  6. 7 Annie September 12, 2012 at 11:09 am

    This blog post is the best explanation for milk paint I have seen: http://www.google.com/url?q=http://toolmakingart.com/2008/06/16/two-layer-milk-paint/&sa=U&ei=Z7JQUIKsCoTu0gG12oDYDw&ved=0CBQQFjAA&usg=AFQjCNHRUfmqaT4VpbOxGXGsCkNY4kq5rQ

    Using lime will make the paint alkaline, and that is a good first coat for wood as the opposite phs will form a closer bond, he says.

    Using lemon juice will render an acid milk, which is a good second coat that will bond well with the alkaline first coat.

    (Hope you don’t mind my posting the url of another place…I’ll understand if you remove!)

  7. 9 Cynthi December 27, 2013 at 1:36 am

    I used your recipe and loved it. The stink was another matter, but I loved the patina of the paint and will use it agin.


  1. 1 Chalk Paint or Milk Paint? What's the Difference? Trackback on January 22, 2013 at 8:50 am

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Craft Apple

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Well, crafting is my apple. It's what I do to maintain my sanity while taking care of my family. I homeschool my three boys, ages 12, 13, and 14), am a quilter, a bagaholic, and a pattern designer.
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