American Clay plaster has gained a world-wide reputation as one of the most beautiful
and sustainable finishes available. Using southwestern clays, marble dust, fine
sands and pure mineral pigments, American Clay plastered walls glow with a depth
that has to be seen and felt to be fully appreciated. Click here for a slideshow
YOLO Colorhouse is a zero VOC, 100% acrylic paint with an innovative, user friendly
pallete based on the elements of nature. And it’s Green Seal certified, which means
it meets stringent environmental and performance standards.
Milk paint is one of the oldest paints there is, and has a rich history in America.
Its chemistry is simple but powerful: lime, milk protein (casein), and pure pigment.
The milk solids serve as a binder and the lime makes it rock hard. Neither competes
with the pigment which shimmers with a luster unique to milk paint. Today, authentic,
high quality milk paint can be bought in powdered form at a per-gallon cost comparable
to high-end latex.
Clay alis (pronounced aleez) is a traditional South American finish. It’s also an
ideal medium for interior paint. It adheres to almost anything, tolerates most
other materials, is easy to apply, and leaves a soft, lightly textured finish. For
additional mottling and shading it can also be worked by trowel and brush.
Natural paints are also ideal base coats for colorwashing. Their flat matte texture
absorbs thin washes of color to create walls that shimmer with subtle shifts of shade
and color. Plus, the colorwash further hardens the surface. The technique is simple,
reliable, affordable and beautiful.
Olivetti Lime Paint
Like milk paint, lime paint has been around for thousands of years, coming to its
peak during the European Renaissance. Today it is still basically the same mix:
lime and mineral pigments with water and sometimes linseed oil. Multiple thin coats
are brushed in, producing a powdery, stone-like finish. It can also be polished
or waxed to a marble-like sheen.
“If one way be better than another, that way you may be sure is nature’s way”
Since early human times, people have looked to nature for the materials to protect
and beautify their dwellings. They usually didn’t have to look far. Except for
rare pigments, most of the things needed were near at hand: clay, lime, and various
minerals from the earth; oils and resins from plant and trees; milk proteins and
beeswax from animals. For thousands of years these materials performed marvelously,
decorating architectural masterpieces such as the Sistine Chapel, as well all manner
of traditional homes.
Then along came the wonders of petro-chemistry, and with it the advent of modern
plastic paint, also called latex. Latex bears the hallmarks of all things plastic—Ease
and Convenience. But with it, unfortunately, comes a host of harmful chemicals
that off-gas from the painted surface for weeks. These are commonly called VOC’s,
Volatile Organic Compounds. (The “organic” means carbon-containing.) VOC’s include
such things as formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, and ethylene glycol. They enter our
bodies through skin and lungs, where they collect in places like the kidneys, liver
and central nervous system. And since indoor spaces are enclosed, the exposure is
magnified. They also spread beyond our homes into the atmosphere, becoming tropospheric
(low in the atmosphere) ozone, a potent agent in global warming.
Commercial paint manufacturers have responded by removing many of the most toxic
compounds from their paints, lowering their VOC’s, and sometimes eliminating them
altogether. It’s a step in the right direction.
But Ease and Convenience brought another price: Beauty. What makes colors beautiful
is complexity and variation. The colors we find in nature; in sunsets, seashells,
leaves and petals, are studies in complexity and variation. A leaf may look a single
intense green from a distance, but look closely and you’ll see hundreds of shades
and hues. This is why fine artists always embellish their colors with varying shades
and hues. Modern petrochemical paint colors, on the other hand, are monochromes,
lacking the complexity that creates both brilliance and subtlety. Thus, the colors
in a fan deck often turn out unexpectedly “loud” or dull.
Being less processed, natural paints create color complexity naturally. In addition,
they can often be worked: buffed, burnished, trowelled or drybrushed, to create subtle
shading. And now, with the accompaniment of modern green chemistry, many meet consumer
demand in terms of ease of use and washability.
Why use petrochemicals if you don’t have to? Why not make paint naturally if you
Earth Craft Painting is a member of Sustainable Connections and the Business Alliance
for Local Living Economies (BALLE.) All work is done with the earth in mind. Air
and road travel is rendered carbon neutral through the purchase of carbon offsets.
As many materials as possible, even paint cans, are recycled. Solvents, whether water
or oil based, are recycled or properly disposed of.