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!