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During the early and mid-1800s, furniture was often painted with paint made from a combination of milk, lime and natural pigments. Today powdered milk-paint formulas, available in a variety of colors, may be used to create an attractive and durable finish. Milk paint is a good choice for less expensive woods such as pine and fir that aren't prized for their grain patterns.
Once you've selected a color, measure equal amounts of powder and warm water in separate containers. Add the powder to the water, and stir until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency. For a thinner paint, add more water. Mix thoroughly for about 3 minutes, then let the paint stand for about 15 minutes
Wipe the wood with a damp cloth to remove any dust and dampen the wood (Image 1). Seal any knots with fast-drying shellac (Image 2).
Use a foam or synthetic-bristle brush to paint the entire surface with a first coat of milk paint. For a thin coat--almost like a stain--add more water to the mixture. For a thicker coat, or for stenciling, add more powder.
Let the paint dry for about 2 hours, then buff it with a synthetic sanding pad. If you wish, apply a second coat.
Once the piece has been painted, it can be carefully distressed with a sanding pad to remove paint from areas that would be worn on a true antique--for example, around the feet or along the front edges.
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