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Home Made and Natural Paint -- some resources

I'm always attracted to news stories about people who start up a boutique paint company. Maybe because in my heart of hearts, I'd love to do the same!

This month, there was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle which showcased two Portland, Oregon women who started out as a "Custom Finishes" company (the kind of people who come in and paint your interiors in interesting ways) and ended up making their own line of paints. You can visit their website at to read more about their mission, their products, and their prices.

Reading the article reminded me of 2004, when I got it in my head to write a book about natural paints, and so promptly tore through the house testing out ideas. My family was very patient as I painted my bedroom using a natural paint made from curdled milk. This required gallons of milk and bags of lemons. The result was very close to exactly what I wanted: a completely flat wall finish, with a soft yellow/beige/coral hue that was complex and ever changing as the daylight traveled through the room. Sometimes, in the early mornings, I swear it is green!

I loved working with natural paints with regard to the complexity of hue and tone, but the actual "making" of the paint was a real pain, and each batch varied with regard to texture (how thin or how thick). So, while I'm still a huge fan of natural paints, I definitely suggest you consider a premade product backed by a paint professional -- maybe even the Yolo Colorhouse paints (I haven't tried them so I can't say for sure).

If you want to read up on natural paints, here is my shortlist of great books:

The Natural Paint Book by Lynn Edwards and Julia Lawless. This is the book that I was trying to write but never finished. Julia Lawless is also famous for her encyclopedias of essential oils.

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay. I can not say enough about this book! I keep shoving it under the noses of anyone who makes it to my coffee table and once I get them to start reading, they are fascinated. Doesn't matter if they are into paint or not. It is like a travel book and history book and color book all rolled into one. I love this book so much I should probably sell it. Maybe I will.

Anything written by Annie Sloan. She's a pro and has been at this for years. I want to save up my money, go to England and take one of her workshops just so I can kneel at her presence. Alternatively, I'd settle for growing up to be her, except that I'm already grown up.

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