How to use Milk Paint

Centuries before the sale of commercially made paints Milk Paint was used. The colours are made with high quality artist grade ingredients are deeply pigmented, providing a durable and lasting finish. Vintage Bird Milk Paint is made by hand in rural NSW using ingredients that pre-date petro-chemicals and other toxic bases and solvents. Milk paint is biodegradeable, non toxic, zero VOC, food safe, child safe and washes up with water. Milk paint is the perfect way to add some extra creativity to your spoon carving.

If you have used Milk Paint before it is still worthwhile to review these instructions as all milk paints are made to their own recipe so methods and techniques for use can vary.


Milk Paint is a natural product - there are no binders, suspenders or additives to help the paint adhere to the surface once applied. Multiple thin coats of paint to acheive an opaque surface will be more successful than one thick coat which may chip off more easily.

Milk Paint works best with raw and porous surfaces and will resist surfaces that are smooth, oily, shiny or glossy. It may behave differently with different types of wood so be prepared to experiment a little and to embrace the natural imperfections that come with using a natural product.

If you are painting your carved spoons with our milk paint, you will only need to make the paint up in small portions. Once mixed with water, Milk Paint should be used within a couple of hours. It can be stored for a day or so, but needs to be in an airtight container (such as a re-cycled glass jar) and preferably refrigerated, especially if you are in a warm/humid environment. The paint will be very thick, and almost gelatinous when removed from the fridge. Give it a good shake in the jar, let it come back to room temperature, and after stirring well, add the amount of water you need to thin it, little by little.

How to make up your milk paint:

  • Measure out a small amount into a small jar or cup. (1 to 2 tablespoons will go a long way.)
  • Give the powder a good stir in the jar before adding any water to ensure the pigment is evenly spread and you can also check to see if any of the mineral powder has formed any small lumps in storage. This is fine - just break them up with your spoon/paddle pop stick.
  • Note that some colours are easier to mix than others. For example red pigments resist water so you may find you need to stir for longer to get the colour disperse.
  • Add the same amount of warm water slowly, stirring as your go. Continue to stir until all the powder is incorporated into the liquid. You may find there are some air bubbles/froth on top now.
  • Let the paint stand for approx. 10 minutes.The air bubbles should be minimal now.
  • Give the paint another gentle stir and using a piece of thick card or timber off cut, paint a test strip to check for thickness. At this stage, you will need to decide what type of coverage you want on your carved piece – more layers (rather than a thicker application) will give you a more opaque appearance - thinning the paint down with water will allow it to look more like a stain or wash on the raw timber. Depending on colour, this is a great way to still see some of the timber’s texture and grain through the colour.
  • To thin the paint to use as a stain, stir in another tablespoon of water, check consistency again and keep thinning until you are happy with coverage.


Paint using a soft bristled, small brush. Use long, fluid motion whilst painting and work in the direction of the grain.

Remember that if you like a more opaque look, your paint work will look better and be more durable if you paint two to three light, thinner coats, rather than one coat of thick paint.

Milk Paint dries very quickly, but try to be patient and allow it to dry fully for at least 4 hours before oiling.


  • Use your choice of oil (ensure it is non toxic and food safe). Our Hempseed Oil is a great option
  • Coat the painted areas in oil, leave for 5 mins and then wipe off excess and buff lightly with a clean, lint free cloth. Multiple thin coats of oil are better than one heavy, thick coat.
  • To achieve a silky, smooth finish on your painted surface, before the oil layer has been removed, sand very gently with a fine grit “wet and dry” paper  (600 grit or higher) Alternatively, you can gently use 0000 grade steel wool.
  • After sanding, wipe off excess oil with paper towel or a lint free cloth (beware - the pigment now suspended in the oil will discolour the cloth and your hands if not wearing gloves!) Oil will seal the porous milk paint making it safe to gently hand wash.
  • Re-apply oil every 3-6 months depending on use to keep your finish looking great.


Please be aware variations in colour in your painted finish may occur - this is one the beautiful advantages of using milk paint. It is caused by the dispersion of pigment in the mixture and also because many colour “recipes” are made using several different coloured pigments. Wear disposable gloves if you don’t want your hands to end up the same colour as your paint. Also, please be cautious and ensure you do not directly inhale the paint whilst still in powdered form. The mineral are very fine and there is a possibility of some of the mineral dust becoming air borne whilst mixing.