inspired finishes

Periwinkle Skies

SUSTAINABLE BENEFITS: The craftsman William Morris decreed that we should have nothing in our home (or work environment) that we did not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. We can go further than this by ensuring that the contents of our home are not only beautiful and practical but also natural, non-polluting and organically healthy. There is an increasing awareness for the need to respect our surroundings in order to be able to provide for a sustainable future. Although many people are aware of the damage that chemical pollutants cause to the environment, there is still a need for awareness to the extent to which they affect our health and physiological wellbeing within our living and working spaces.

CONSERVATION TIPS: Preserve the architectural integrity of your home and minimize waste by restoring instead of replacing as much as possible. Rewire older light fixtures. Refinish or paint old cabinets, doors, and moldings. Patch damaged plaster.

TIPS FOR HEALTHY PAINTING: Choose low-VOC (see below for definition) water-based paints and urethanes or oil-based paints that are made from natural ingredients. Make sure that added paints and finishes are not formulated with formaldehyde, halogenated solvents, aromatic hydrocarbons, mercury or mercury compounds. Make sure that added pigments do not contain lead, cadmium, chromium, and their oxides. Avoid chemical solvents.

WHAT IS A VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUND (VOC)? Most synthetic products manufactured during the past fifty years contain volatile substances that quickly evaporate, creating vapors that may be toxic. These gas-producing substances, called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are a major cause of air pollution inside the home. Literally hundreds of different chemicals contained in VOCs are found in plywood, particleboard, paints, adhesives, synthetic fabrics and cleaning products. Three of the most common and most harmful are formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.

SYNTHETIC WALL PAINTS: Paint binders made from petrochemicals are statically charged and so actually attract dust to their surface (Natural finishes are micro porous, allowing the treated material to breathe. Any moisture in the substrate will be able to evaporate through the surface coating).

SYNTHETIC FINISHES: These finishes tend to trap moisture, bubble up and break through the paintwork, or it may remain trapped and cause problems such as mould growth and rot. Synthetic products contribute to sick building syndrome, sicknesses caused by poor indoor air quality.

NATURAL PAINTS & FINISHES: Made from plant oils and dyes, clay and chalk, milk casein, beeswax, and other natural ingredients, these oiled-based paints have a pleasant fragrance and rarely pose problems for allergy sufferers.


ALUMINUM SILICATE: White mineral clay

BALSAMIC TURPENTINE: distilled from pine oleoresin and used as a solvent.

BEER GLAZE: As a binder for pigment, lager is transparent, viscous and slow drying-qualities that make it ideal for use as a color wash for a pure reflection of light from the natural colored pigments.

BEESWAX: Supple wax with a long tradition of use in many parts of the world.

BORATES: naturally occurring alkaline minerals.

CALCIUM CARBONATE: A very common mineral, which is the major constituent of many of the earth’s rocks and occurs in various forms such as calcite, chalk, and limestone.

CARNUBA WAX: Yellowish wax extracted from the leaves of the fan palm--the hardest natural wax with the highest melting point known. It is sometimes used to increase the stability of softer waxes.

CASEIN POWDER AND BORAX PAINT: The acidic casein powder is mixed with alkaline borax, and the result is a really strong and glutinous glue-like binder to hold the pigment and whiting. The paint dries to give a velvety-matt surface. This is a paint that has been used for many centuries – notably by the shakers, who used casein paint to decorate their furniture and interiors.

CELLULOSE: The principal structural molecular component of plant cell walls, and the most abundant organic compound on earth. Produced industrially from wood pulp, cellulose is used as a binder in its own right, but also swells into a jelly when mixed with water and so acts like a thickening agent to help keep all other ingredients dispersed in the mix.

CELLULOSE GLUE PAINT: Cellulose, a plant based glue, and a filler of whiting is added to this binder to make a reversible paint.

CHALK: Fine grained white rock consisting largely of calcium carbonate. Used as a filler and white pigment and an ingredient in casein paint.

CHINA CLAY/KAOLIN: One of the purest, whitest and most plastic clays.

CLAYS: Silicate clays are natural minerals used in hydrous and resin oil products.

CLAY PLASTERS: Clay is one of the oldest building materials ever used. Clay has outstanding thermal (warm in winter, cool in summer) and vapor-diffusion capacities, and because it breathes, it contributes to a healthy internal atmosphere. It also absorbs odors and insulates against sound. Clay plasters are typically composed of clay, fine aggregate, organic fibers and pigment. They are suitable for internal surfaces, but should be protected with oils or waxes when used in rooms where they will come into contact with damp, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

COLOPHONY GLYCERINE ESTER: Exuded from coniferous trees. Liquid part used as oil of turpentine, or turps. The rosin is then boiled down with glycerin to make a more elastic material.

COPAL RESIN: Hard tropical tree resin akin to amber dissolved in alcohol to make varnishes.

DAMMAR: Very light and non-yellowing in tree resin--highly elastic binder--it is soluble in turpentine and alcohol.

D-LIMONENE: is citrus turpentine, the principal constituent of orange essential oil from orange peel. Used as a solvent in paints and cleaning product.

EARTH PIGMENTS: are composed of clay containing different forms of iron oxide, plus other minerals such as manganese.

EGG AND OIL PAINT: Egg is used not only as a binder but also as an emulsifier, meaning that the oil and water can be mixed--no solvent is needed.

EGG TEMPERA: Egg yolk was historically used as a binder in icon painting. The results are a rich paint best suited to small-scale decorative projects. A great metallic paint can be achieved by mixing glimmer pigments with the yolk.

EUCALYPTYS OIL: is scented essential oil with anti bacterial properties.

FLOOR AND FURNITURE WAX: Beeswax is mixed with a solvent to form a soft paste. The addition of other types of wax will change the quality of the finish; carnauba, for example, will make it harder.

FRESCO: (the Italian word for fresh) is a type of mural painting. It is a long and involved technique consisting of three layers of differently textured lime plaster followed by a final finish. The top layer is composed of lime-tolerant pigments dissolved in lime water, and is painted onto the final plaster layer while the plaster is still wet. Success depends on good preparation, since every brush stroke is permanent. Lime plaster dries by a process of carbonation. The pigments get caught up in this process and become integrated with the surface of the plaster, making fresco an extremely durable way of adding color to a wall. Examples of this technique can be found around the world, including Europe, China, India, and Russia. Although examples still survive from the sixteenth century BC in Greece and Morocco, the technique saw its full flourishing in Renaissance Italy in the hands of the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael.

GESSO: was traditionally used to coat carved softwood furniture, building a hard finish that not only smoothed over rough and imperfect wood and joinery but also provided a porcelain-smooth base for subsequent gliding or painting.

GLAIR PAINT: Egg white was historically used as a binder to make paints for illuminated manuscripts.

ISOALIPHATE: a derivative of natural gas--solvent of low odor and toxicity.

KALKSPAR: Calcium carbonate ingredients in casein paint.

KAOLIN: Ingredients in casein paint.

KIESELGUHR: (algae) it is used as a diffusion-enhancing, matting filler, and suspension agent.

LECITHIN: is made from soya beans, also peanuts and maize--a gel-like product, used as an emulsifier and stabilizer in paints and also foods.

LIME: Produced from calcium carbonate.

LIME PAINT: It is produced from a form of limestone that contains some clay. When mixed with water, it becomes paint with mild antiseptic and insect-repellent qualities and provides a vapor-permeable finish that allows buildings to breathe, preventing problems such as damp, condensation, and mould growth.

LIME PUTTY: and hydraulic lime are both sustainable building and decorating materials. Lime putty and hydraulic lime have been in use for thousands of years.

LIMEWASH: Perfect for traditional buildings, the structures of which need to breathe in order to prevent damp and other problems, lime wash is made from lime putty. It has a soft matt finish.

LIMING WAX: is traditionally white, and is used to highlight the grain of the bare wood.

LINSEED STAND OIL: dries more quickly than raw linseed oil, and is used as both an elastic binder and drier.

MARMARINO: is derived from the Italian word for marble. It is a plaster that includes finely ground marble dust. An extremely durable low-maintenance finish, true marmorino has a marble content of at least 40 percent. The marble is crushed, ground, washed, and sifted, before being mixed with lime putty. Basic plastering techniques are used in the application, but its particular properties mean that there are differences in the way it is finished. It is essentially burnished using specialist tools, and the extent of the polishing determines the final finish – from matt to high polished. It is suitable for external use as well as internal. Like any stone, the finish breathes taking in or giving off humidity according to the surrounding atmosphere.

NATURAL BINDERS: have been in use for thousands of years. Examples of natural binders are plant oils and resins, natural latex, casein, milk, eggs, cellulose and animal glues. Citrus thinners and turpentine are plant based products. Binders include casein powder (with borax), cellulose glue, rabbit-skin glue, and gum Arabic.

NATURAL OIL PAINTS: take a long time to dry. The advantage of this is that it will remain elastic enough to move with the natural swelling and shrinking of the wood it is used to paint.

NATURAL PAINTS AND FINISHES: Made from plant oils and dyes, clay and chalk, milk casein, beeswax, and other natural ingredients, these oiled-based paints have a pleasant fragrance and rarely pose problems for allergy sufferers.

NATURAL PIGMENTS: have a crystalline structure and so reflect light from the surface of the paint in numerous directions, with subtle depth and variation in tone.

ORANGE OIL: Essential oil used as a thinner.

PLANT ALCHOHOL: or ethanol is produced by the fermentation of starchy plants--used as a thinner.

POWDERED MARBLE: Marble rises as a result of the action of heat and pressure on limestone. It has a hard crystalline texture.

QUARK: (milk curd) can be used to produce thin color washes on walls and bare wood—allowing the qualities and colors of the natural pigment to shine through. Adding natural oil to quark makes for more sophisticated glazes because subsequent layers do not dissolve the ones beneath. Dried quark, or milk curd, is the basis of casein paint.

QUARK AND BORAX PAINT: Mixing quark, which is acidic, with alkaline like borax turns into a stronger binder that will hold not only more pigment but also some whiting. The result can either be an opaque wall paint with good covering properties or a thinner colored glaze.

QUARK AND LIME PAINT: Mixing quark, which is acidic, with alkaline like borax turns into a stronger binder that will hold not only more pigment but also some whiting. The result can either be an opaque wall paint with good covering properties or a thinner colored glaze.

REZINE STAND OIL: Used as a highly viscous binder and drier. Castor oil softens, prevents yellowing and improves adhesion of paint.

ROSEMARY OIL: is scented essential oil with mild fungicidal and preservative properties.

SILICIC ACID: Silicon dioxide extracted from sand or quartz used as a hardener and gloss flattener or matting agent. It is a reinforcing filler and imparts burnish resistance and sheen uniformity.

SODIUM HYDROXIDE: an alkaline water-softening salt, industrially produced by the electrolysis of brine.

SOFT DISTEMPER: An early form of whitewash, it is chalk or lime based with a glue or oil binder. This interior paint finish is very beautiful, soft and matt, and the natural pigment grains that lie on the brush-textured surface reflect the light to produce variation in color and tone this finish will also give perfect authenticity to renovated properties.

SOYA BASED ALKYD: dries to form a dry, tough durable, elastic skin.

STAINING WOOD WITH PAINT COLOR: Plant dyes have a translucent quality because light can pass through the molecules of color.

STAINING WOOD WITH TEA AND VINEGAR: Tannins are naturally present in woods like oak, but pale woods like pine can be darkened by having tannins added to them in the form of strong black tea. Iron acetate, when applied to the wood, reacts with tannins to produce a rich dark color.

SUNFLOWER OIL: Used as a quality, non-yellowing oil in paints.

TALCUM: Used as a filler to hold other ingredients in suspension and improves adhesion and coverage.

TITANIUM DIOXIDE: an expensive bright white pigment. Used widely and valued for its high opacity.

TRANSPARENT NATURAL OIL GLAZE: can be used to make casein powder and borax paint on walls and woodwork more resistant and strong enough to be wiped clean. It can also add a layer of subtle color to walls or be used to stain and external bare wood. The oil alone will darken the color of casein powder and borax paint.

TUNG OIL: From the seeds of the poisonous fruits of the tung tree. Used as a quick drying binder in paints and varnishes.

VINEGAR ESTER: Solvent made from the distillation of vinegar.

WATER BASED PAINTS: Gum Arabic is a resin exuded by several species of acacia trees. It is traditionally used as a binder for two artists’ paints: water color and gauche. Honey is added to keep the paint flexible.

XANTHAN: Gum used as a thickener and stabilizer in paints and foods.