Making Clay Paint

Only a few weeks ago, I was looking at paint for the clay plaster walls in the shed. Earthborn paints are the standard, apparently, and only after looking at the £60 (roughly) price tag for 5L did I try and think of alternatives. I was overlooking the obvious – making my own paint.

Fortunately, I found a recipe for paint in my recent purchase – “Using Natural Finishes, Adam Weismann & Katy Bryce” So I set about trying it out. The results are amazing! This was done with minimal cost – 60g of flour, 15 min spent boiling water made enough sample to cover about 4 square metres all I need to do is add some clay and paint pigments.

Making the paint is in two stages. First you make the flour paste, then you combine the flour paste with water, clay and clouring pigments to make the paint.

Flour paste (makes about 500ml paste)

60g flour (plain, white)
200ml water

600ml water (boiling in a pan)

Combine the two ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir with a whisk. You want the flour well mixed in. Don’t expect the mixture to be thick, it will be a creamy consistency. Whilst doing this, your pan of water should be heating up. Once the water is almost at boiling point, or is boiling, add in the flour mix and stir constantly.

You will notice the mixture thicken quickly, (despite the extra water) and I gave mine about 15 minutes before deciding it was thick enough to allow to cool.

Once you are happy with that, pour the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool. Over time, it will pretty much turn in a jelly. You have your flour paste!

Clay Paint

Once your flour paste has cooled (it’s a long wait if you want to do it the same day!) You can make the clay paint mix. For this you will need paint pigments, which you can get from suppliers over the country. I got mine from Ty Mawr – (here) but just search paint pigments on google and I’m sure you’ll find a local supplier. Earthborn paints do sell their own pigments too, so go on their website and look for their stockists.

1 part flour paste
1 part clay
2 parts water
1 part fine sand (optional, for base coat)
paint pigment

Combine the flour paste and the water in a large bucket so that the paste thins out. Add the clay and stir to remove all the clay lumps – if you use powdered clay this will be a lot easier. If you are using lumps of clay, like I was, you will be best off soaking the clay for a few days before making the paint, as stirring out the lumps is tedious work!

The fine sand is for a base coat and gives the paint a bit more volume to fill any cracks and even out any marks on the wall. In my photos above, I didn’t use it.

Once you have stirred all the parts together, measure out the pigment and add it in. The amount of pigment you add is your call, but be consistent between mixes! For a rough idea, in the photos above, I added 30ml of pigment (measured using a measuring spoon) to every 250ml of paint mix.

Once you have mixed in the pigment, apply the paint!

The paint should keep for a few days, but you will need to use it fairly quickly. Mist the clay plaster down before applying and apply liberally 🙂 Good luck!

Scaffold Board Flooring

Finally the bulk of the work is out the way. I received the scaffold boards last Thursday and managed to cut and plane them, finishing yesterday. My cold was not helped by the sawdust, but it is nice to sit back with an ever-shrinking list of tasks left to complete.

The photos below show what I’ve gained from the work. A weekend of sanding and varnishing and I’ll have a beautiful, weathered floor to look at!

The boards arrive in the back.

The boards arrive in the back.

This shows the difference between the planed and unplaned boards. It really does make that much of a difference!

This shows the difference between the planed and unplaned boards. It really does make that much of a difference!

The window seat.

The window seat.

Entrance is finished and planed!

Entrance is finished and planed!

A close up of the floor.

A close up of the floor.

The boards around the tyres was the hardest part to cut.

The boards around the tyres was the hardest part to cut.

Mistakes made in clay plastering

In the colder weather, my clay plaster walls have taken a little longer to dry out, however in the last week, they have started to look significantly drier and the mistakes made in mixing the plaster is now starting to show!
The pictures below are a good example of how varied my clay plaster was. Being the impatient & busy person I am, I abandoned the idea of waiting for a weekend to do a big plastering session with a good mix, and just mixed a batch of clay plaster up in a bucket an hour a day and worked my way around the walls of the building.

This got the job done in the week, which was handy, but as you can see, I had some good mixes and bad mixes. In the middle of the job, I ran out of sand, and ended up switching from sharp sand to builders sand. It turns out I needed more builders sand in a mix than I needed sharp sand. This resulted in a mix which was very high in clay content, causing the cracks you see in the photo below.

Here I didn't put in enough sand and you can see the results here. Excess clay is causing shrinkage and lots of cracks.

Here I didn’t put in enough sand and you can see the results here. Excess clay is causing shrinkage and lots of cracks.

Later on in the wall, I managed to get the correct mix, and as a result, the wall is smooth and has no cracks.

This mix was a good one - uniform, smooth and no cracks.

This mix was a good one – uniform, smooth and no cracks.

In the future, I should always remember to mix a decent test batch and actually write down my mixes! A scales would be a good idea to measure batches rather than just using a bucket as a rough measure…

The cracks shouldn’t cause me too much grief though. I’m patching them up with a new (decent!) mix tonight, so you wouldn’t even know!

DIY Clay Paint

Slowly, the clay is drying inside the shed. It’s taking a bit longer than I expected, but with the weather getting slowly colder it’s not a surprise. We’ve had a warmer few days over the weekend, and the dry patches are really showing now, which is great news.

I took some time to have a drive up to Ty Mawr and get some pigment samples from them. Once my floor is laid, I am going to have a mess around with making my own paint, and seeing how it turns out. Here are my colours; the sample pots were only £2 each, so I figured it was worth a try!

Clay Paint Pigments

When painting clay plaster walls, you need to make sure you are using “breathable” paints. The best known paint for clay walls is probably Earthborn paints. But at £60 for a 5L tin, they are a little more than the pots of paint you can pick up in B&Q!

Anyway, regardless of the cost this is my DIY project – the car tyres, straw, clay, the recycled stone patio; it’s all part of a DIY and recycle culture I’m trying to instill in the building, so it would be cheating to use paint off the shelves, when it is (apparently) so easy to make your own paint! So what’s the harm in trying?!

I found a recipe online for Clay paint here, and as it turns out, I bought this book when eading up on clay and lime plaster for the building. As a bonus, I found it has chapters at the back on making limewash and clay paint, so I’ve got plenty of materials ready for this.

I need to exercise patience on this particular task, however. I am well known for rushing into things, and one look at my clay wall will show you my mixes have not been consistently measured. The paint will be the final coat, so it needs to look good! I’ll be documenting my mixes and my test patches properly, so I can happily upload it when I am done. Maybe a few weeks and I can post about the test patches!

 

Interior Clay Plastering

As the summer ends, so does the work on my clay plaster wall. I got back from my holiday and started the mix on the final coat. It’s not been brilliant – I’ve been mixing fairly small batches in a large bucket, rather than using a tarpaulin to mix a large amount, as detailed in many other blogs. This means I’ve been able to complete it myself, fitting it around work hours, but it has also lead to inconsistencies – some mixes have more clay than others, and this is evident as the wall dries.

Clay Plaster_3

 

Here you can see the difference between the scratch coat and the final coat.
Clay plaster_2
Note the lighting in the shed!! This shows the plaster blending with the tyre wall.

 

Clay Plaster_1
The wall around the window is complete and looks great where it meets the frame, though this will shrink as it dries and pull away from the wood. I will have to patch this up as best as I can.

I’m planning on covering inconsistencies with a coat of paint, which I’m in no rush to sort out. The next plan is to lay flooring, so I’m tidying up the garden and any excess earth is going onto the floor inside the shed and being raked flat. Once that’s all done, the floor joists will go down, and I’ve ordered some reclaimed scaffolding boards which will lay down to make the final finish! I’m looking forward to seeing how this looks. Here is the lower tier with the repaired wall and almost flat soil..

Garden Tier is almost done.