We have experimented with various natural paints over the years. Most looked good, but had some negative points such as the requirement for too many layers (such as with some lime paints) or the issue with the clay dusting off the walls when you touch it.
We wanted a paint we could apply once, would not dust, and would have a nice consistent matt finish (and of course be made using natural materials). We have at last found our recipe, and with the help of the street artist no less. We knew that wheat paste could be added to a clay paint, or even just pasted over the top to make the wall durable, a little waterproof and stop dusting. So who better to ask for a strong wheat paste recipe than the fly-poster community?
We mixed a poster paste recipe with our own clay paint. The paint we made, when dry was incredibly durable, gave a beautiful consistent colour and barely dusted even right after drying. So without further ado, here is the recipe:
- 6 parts cold water
- 6 parts white wheat flour
- 12 parts boiling water
- 2 parts sugar combined with…
- 18 parts cold water
- 20 parts fine filtered clay
- (add colour pigment here if you like)
Mix all of them together and you have your paint.
We found that around 1 litre covered about 2 square metres on a clay wall, painted with a brush. Only one coat was necessary for a smooth consistent finish. Using the measurements above, with one ‘part’ equalling about one cup, we made around 14 litres of paint.
Here are the steps for making a mix...
1. Firstly, take your 12 parts of water and set it on the fire to boil.
2. Take another pan and add you 6 parts of cold water
3. Slowly add to the cold water 6 parts of flour. You can alter the measurements if you like depending on your desired consistency. We wanted quite a thick paint to cover the small cracks and bumps so we stayed with 6 water, 6 flour. More flour = thicker paint
4. Mix well!
5. Hopefully your 12 parts of water are nearly boiling. When they are, add them to the flour/cold water, and keep stirring over the heat. The longer you keep it on the heat the thicker it will get so be careful.
6. Now add your sugar, keep stirring, on the heat if you want it to thicken. We had taken it off the heat by this point.
And there you have your flour and sugar component....
If you are lucky, whilst you were busy making the flour mixture, your assistant was filtering the clay. We start with a large filter to take out gravel and rocks.
Next we use a filter made for flour to take out the larger sand particles, and leave only the finest most beautiful clay. And then you are left with an incredibly wonderful, soft clay.
Next we poured 18 cups of water into a wheelbarrow. Then we add the clay, stirring well.
Now you can add your flour sugar mix, making sure to get all the lumpy stuff from the bottom. This paint will always sink and separate so whenever decanting and using this paint, make sure to mix and shake it first or you will lose all the solids at the bottom. I stirred it with the paintbrush before each use..
You should use this paint as soon as possible! The paint we had left over was fermenting after a couple of weeks and although we were able to use it on a different project, it probably wouldn´t be so nice to use in the house due to the awful smell.
Good luck, and if you have any questions about the mix you can reach me at www.fazendatomati.org.
Tom Keeling is based in Portugal and has traveled throughout Brazil and Eastern Europe learning about natural building and farming. He’s working on a two-story stone barn renovation using clay and wood, and including a shower and toilet block built using rammed earth and adobe bricks. Connect with Tom at Fazenda Tomati and on Facebook and Instagram.
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