Happy Independence Day to all of our American readers!
Today I’d like to feature some patriotic projects by some knot too shabby family members: my dad Bill and his sister, my godmother, Darlene!
My dad volunteers at The Farm at Fairplex where he grows produce, cares for animals, and educates local schools on the value of sustainable urban agriculture. But he’s more than a farmhand, his real specialty: farmhandyman. If something needs fixing or building, he’s the person to ask. And with his perfectionist streak, any broken fixtures are often rebuilt better than they were made originally!
So when he came to me looking for help painting an American flag decoration that would look at home in an antique barn, I knew I had to introduce him to the real deal: Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint.
Milk Paint has been around for thousands of years. It was found in the pyramids in Egypt and on ancient cave paintings. It’s been used in America for years on furniture, walls, barns, etc. It is a versatile paint that can be used to achieve a variety of looks from chippy and distressed to smooth and sleek. Milk paint provides a completely breathable coating and is ideal for painting wood, plaster, drywall and a variety of other surfaces. It is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, contains no VOCs, and is naturally mold resistant–a perfect combination for The Farm’s organic and sustainable culture.
Repurposing a salvaged pallet, my dad took to Milk Paint like a duck to water. With thin coats of Tricycle red, Linen white, and Flow Blue (plus a dash of Artissimo blue for depth) he painted like a pro to achieve rich, natural colors while emphasizing the wood grain. A couple teaspoons added to the Linen white remaining at the bottom of the cup created a thicker, creamy texture that made stenciling the stars a breeze–no bleeding around the edges. Once the paint dried, he took a sanding block to the raised edges to further highlight the texture.
At this point, normally I would recommend finishing with Antiquing Wax, but since this pallet will frequently be displayed outdoors, I blended (but only partially, I wanted to keep a variety of separate hues) a small amount of Curio brown, Trophy grey, and a touch of Typewriter black into a thin, watery mixture. My dad applied this using a light dry brushing technique for added variation in color and texture. Now that we had replaced the wax’s antiquing effect, we still needed something to replace its protective properties. And nothing could be a more perfect fit for this project than Hemp Oil.
Hemp Oil is a finish that is a nice alternative to the wax. It is all natural, so it’s great for people who are sensitive to chemicals. Hemp Oil is best when it’s applied to a porous surface (like raw wood, stained wood or Milk Painted raw wood.) It will absorb into the surface, creating a durable finish. It’s a food safe finish that can be used on cutting boards, butcher blog counters and kitchen tables. Hemp Oil is also great for projects that will be used outside. Once it cures (after approximately 30 days), it protects and wears beautifully in the elements.
In all, the American flag pallet took less than a day to complete. With time to spare before July 4th, my dad took what he had learned and taught my godmother how to paint too! With strong ties to the military (her husband, father, mother, and grandson have all served) she had been saving a section of 30 year-old fence that had been pulled out two years ago, to create a special testament to her family’s service–so we knew that this flag decoration had high expectations to live up to. I never doubted the quality or ease of Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint to achieve that lofty goal.
And yes, even in 90°F weather, with a sudden soaking from automatic sprinklers just before painting, lots of spirited debate about exactly where to stencil the stars (what can I say, perfectionism runs in the family), and an old dog who wanted to nap wherever Aunt Darlene needed to stand, she finished her American flag fence in no time at all.
The family that paints together, stays together.
From my family to yours, have a safe & happy 4th of July! -Caitlin