Yelp Review Olek on Media Olek online Store

MILK PAINT

Milk paint is made from casein, and has been in use for the centuries before modern oil paints were available. It is an extremely durable finish, and usually only requires conservation, infilling of worn surfaces by  an artist. Milk paint often has an alligatored or checked surface, and new milk paint can be applied to have the same distressed look .

Milk paint was readily created and frequently used in rural areas, from milk and the addition of stable pigments.  Although it easily water-spots, it is extremely difficult to remove, and is much more durable subjected to other solvents or strippers than are modern finishes, such as nitrocellulose lacqeur, varnishes, or oil or latex paint.

Milk paint has a dull to satin gloss level, which could be enhanced by overcoating with wax or shellac. 

Conservation of milk paint finishes is relatively difficult compared to modern pigmented finishes.  The color intensity and dull finish are challenging to match.  The pigments are not as readily available as they once were.

 

Milk paint with crackle finish

 
Milk paint with crackle finish


Below is a typical Pennsylvania German Dowery Chest, that a wife would bring into the marriage. Note the name and date originally painted on the chest by the bride:

 

Pennsylvania German settlers had a long history of paint decoration of furniture, to apply culturally important decoration, and often to enhance inexpensive use of woods, to resemble more costly imported woods not available in rural areas.



Chest with milk paint decoration produced in Pennsylvania suffering from physical damages and long usage

Chest with milk paint decoration produced in Pennsylvania suffering from physical damages and long usage


Top of chest shown restored, leaving significant distress intact, not over-restored

Top of chest shown restored, leaving significant distress intact, not over-restored


Front of Pennsylvania Dutch chest after conservation of milk paint finish

Front of Pennsylvania Dutch chest after conservation of milk paint finish


Bracket foot showing considerable distress- before

Bracket foot showing considerable distress- before


Pennsylvania Dutch chest