Exploratory Painting

I am always experimenting with different natural materials, such as lime, marble powder, fine sand, ash, to create depth and structure. The challenge lies in bonding these materials and adhere them to a flexible canvas. Sometimes, they just crumble away after drying. Using a mix of pure lime with marble powder, which is used for […]

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Decorative Wall Finishes

The design of walls, their colours and surface structure, decisively influences how well we feel in it. Of course, this also subject to trends and fashions, but I think it should fit to the personality of the people living in it. It is like a coat that envelops us.

There is a universe of ready made products, imitating old techniques such as Stuc or Tadelakt. As I have written several times, I learned how to make and apply decorative coatings by just using sand, lime and marble. I follow old recipes, which are partly written down and so surpassed, but as always, the real secrets you learn only when you work with it. There are almost no restrictions, you can coat almost any underground with an appropriate pre-treatment.
The result of this work is always unique, always personal and never exactly foreseeable, because I work with natural materials. The little irregularities are part of the decoration and make it so distinctive and charming.
I have already decorated many hundred square meters of walls, I work I really like and therefore, I included it into my repertoire.

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Swedish Paint

Few weeks ago, I wrote about a natural paint, based on flower and pigments, I created for painting a new garage door.
Last week, I wanted to paint the shelter for our firewood in the garden and again, I cooked my paint, using the same recipe but with red iron oxide pigment.
The shelter is much more exposed to weather (sometimes rain, but mostly sun and wind) than the garage door and thus a durable paint is needed to protect the wood.
Permanent exposure to the sun is a big challenge, most of the synthetic paints peel of after a few months.  So far, I used Osmo paints but even those semi-natural paints chipped of after two years.
It can become an expensive hobby to paint all the outdoor wooden pieces every two years. A durable natural paint, tested under Scandinavian weather conditions for centuries seems to be a good alternative.
It’s easy to create and it’s cheap: 5 L of paint costs about 5 €!
Thinking of the environment, I also wanted to avoid any toxic ingredients.
The paint should last approx. 4-5 years and restoration is easy as the surface needs to be brushed before repainting it.

Swedish Red  or Rouge de Falun

In the town of Falun is a copper mine which has been explored for more than thousand years. The red iron oxide is a by-product of the copper mining. The earth above the copper contains ocher, silicon and zinc. At plain air, it washes out and dries. The result is a fine red powder, the red iron oxide.
The mine closed in 1992. Today, the area is on the UNESCO list and a tourist hot spot.

Since a few years, we have Swedish family members and one of the first pictures which popped up in our heads were those of the nice red wooden houses in Sweden.

Red Swedish House
Red Swedish House
Isabell Schulz - Yellow Swedish House https://www.flickr.com/photos/isapisa/8471500192 (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Isabell Schulz – Yellow Swedish House https://www.flickr.com/photos/isapisa/8471500192 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In the 16 century the city municipalities ordered home owners to paint their house front facing the street in red to impress the royals.
Later on, it became a countrywide fashion to paint all new country houses red, urban villas in yellow and window frames and fences in red or green.  At this time, the paint did not contain any linseed oil or savon noir, but sometimes brine, beer or tar.

Either you cook your own paint, or you buy it from the two manufacturers of traditional Swedish paint, Falu Rödfärg and Moose Färg.
Nowadays, the colour palette offers also different shades of blue, yellow, grey, green and even black.

Application

The base recipe stays the same, just different pigments are added.
You can use this kind of paint also for painting wooden floors, furniture, already painted walls (plaster boards like Rigips and Fermacell) and bricks.
Ferrous sulfate protects the wood against fungus infestation and is not needed for indoor paints.
The surface needs to be rough, the best is to seal it in advance.
Even an application on paper walls is possible but you need to make the wall absorbent with a layer of acrylic.

 

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A new piece of art

Last week, I created a new piece of art, I painted a garage door.

Well, it’s a different kind of art, the art lies more in the paint itself.

The newly built wooden garage door needed to be protected and I wanted to have it open-pored to let the wood breath and keep it natural touch. The challenge here is the sun, which lets every artificial colour chip off after a relatively short period. I did a bit of a research and found the old recipes for the famous Swedish paint “Swedish red”. This paint has been created about 250 years ago and it’s still used, especially for restoration of old buildings and furniture.
I felt like a witch in her kitchen when I cooked the paint 😉

The recipe for about 16 :

175 g flour (with gluten!)
2 l water
50 g ferrous sulfate
500 g pigments
0,25 l linseed oil
25 cl savon noir

Heat half of the water. Pour the flour into 0,5 l of cold water and mix it to get a paste without any lumps. Slowly stir the paste into the warm water, add the pigments and the sulfate. Stir it for about 15 min until the mix gets creamy. Pour gradually the linseed oil in, when all is mixed together (after about 15 min), add the savon to stabilize the mixture. Stir everything for another 15 min.
The paint is ready when it has a creamy consistency, as if you prepare the mix for a crêpe.
I recommend to soak the pigments into water before pouring them into the flour soup.Let it cool down.

The paint is ready when cold and it needs to be stirred from time to time during application. It’s a non-dropping paint.

I applied it three times on new wood, which I washed with savon noir emulsion a day before.
The base recipe can be coloured any many shades and I wanted to create a grey tone to match the already painted shutters and windows of the house.

The result is a very natural paint, looking velvety and I think it is perfect for an old house.

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