Making Claypaint, Home-made Ecological Paint for Interior Walls Part 2

When the wheat paste was cool we were ready to go ahead with the next part of the process. We decided to add a little of our earth pigments, a red and yellow ochre, to avoid the grey tone that you can get with clay and flour paints. We intended testing the paint out on the window recess to give us a good idea of the resultant finish and hue when dry. We argued that even if the colours were slightly different in tone to the rest, the effect could be quite pleasing. For example, in the sitting room we purposely covered the window recesses in a sand and lime mixture to create a contrast to the linen and lime. In the event the paint went on so well and tiny patches of it dried within the first few minutes, giving us such a good idea of the finish, so we pressed on and completed the whole wall.

How to make claypaint with earth colours


A Foreword on the Clay Paint Ingredients


Kaolin was named after the high hill or 'Kao-ling' in Jiangxi Province from which the first major deposits of fine white clay were mined. Porcelain had become an important commodity in the T'ang Dynasty, (618-907) with the popularity of tea drinking but it was under the Song dynasty in the early 11th century that the town of Jingdezhen with its invaluable high hill became the centre of the Imperial porcelain manufacture. Thus Kaolin, also known as China clay, was the foundation of the fabulous Chinese porcelain industry, which for so many centuries held sway over the World's passion for fine tableware and objets d'art. These were not only made of the finest white clay but also cobalt, the latter allowing artists to experiment with a new colour. A later addition of manganese in the Ming dynasty would lead to the apogee of China's famous 'blue and white'.  Jingdezhen was ideally situated near to the Poyang Lake whereby tons of dinner services could travel by lake and river to Nanking and then onwards via the Grand Canal to Peking and from there out to the Courts and stately homes of the West. Below is an example of 19th Century Staffordshire 'Willow Pattern', a ubiquitous English transfer design which was heavily influenced by the earlier century's Chinese imports.

19th century Blue and White Staffordshire China

Kaolin is also used as a beauty product being a component of many cosmetics particularly nowadays for organic make-up and toothpastes and on its own as a beauty mask.

The fine white clay has therapeutic qualities as do many of those coming under the banner of healing clays, such as Montmorillonite aka French Green Clay. It can be used externally to draw impurities from the skin and toxins from the body. The best quality sun-dried therapeutic clays are also used internally, as clay water drinks to remove, poisons, including heavy metals and radiation. Kaolin is often viewed as a more gentle detoxing clay than the bentonite clays for example. We have used therapeutic clay many times on our poultry and ourselves! See related articles below.

Natural Earth and Mineral Pigments

There is already an extensive article on mixing and using natural earth pigments on this blog it can be found here

Wheat Paste

The link to my wheat paste article here


The basic measurements for the paint are as follows:

4 parts water to
3 parts Kaolin to
1 part wheat paste
Pigment as required

For the kitchen's North wall which is approximately 7m² or just over 75 square feet we made up the paint in the following proportions:

1 litre or 4 cups of water
400g or 3 cups of white clay powder aka kaolin
225 ml or 1 cup of wheat paste

This was a guesstimate as our wall has a textured surface so would take more paint than a smooth surface, in actual fact I was able to easily cover the wall and go over it again in the parts I'd missed or where the texture was more pronounced. Judging by the coverage, a smooth wall would have only needed one coat and thus used less paint. 


How to make claypaint
Add the water to the clay and mix thoroughly, I used a wooden spoon to start the process as I thought it would be less messy. Also this is very fine clay so I didn't want to make 'dust'. Otherwise you may want to wear a mask at this stage if you have one that is suitable.

How to make claypaint for interior walls

Add the wheat paste and mix again. We did try to use a drill attachment whisk at this point but the one we have is really for very large volumes, so it was rather messy!

using earth pigments for  making claypaint

Add the pigment to a little water and mix the whole lot together again. This time we used a normal electric hand whisk, which worked really well.

If you don't use the paint for a few days it starts to smell 'funny' aka old-style metal polish mixed with stagnant water! However, that doesn't prevent you from using it, as it looks fine, dries well and with no odour. It's just better to use it as you make it!

As the paint was meant to leave just a fine layer over the original surface and so that it would retain its 'crunchy' aspect we made our paint quite thin. If you want a thicker paint then add less water and if you want texture then add fine sand. (We will be sharing the making of claypaint made with sand in a future article.)

Preparation & Application

Cleaning hemp and lime covered walls

We started by brushing and then washing down the walls to remove any grime which might impede the application and adhesion of the paint. Most of the discolouration is from cooking and soot from numerous chimney sweepings. As it has been over 15 years since we applied this layer of hemp and lime,  I think it has been a great success as an easy-care wall-covering! This apart, of course from being excellent insulation for a stone wall.

using home-made claypaint

We worked the paint into the surface of the hemp and lime using a circular motion in the more textured parts of the wall.

Home-made claypaint drying times

After two hours and on a rather dull and cool day for July, the paint looked like this.

Making clay paint for interior walls
We're very pleased with the result! The North wall of the Kitchen, which was the first wall covering we applied back in 2002 was beginning to look its age. The clay paint has freshened it up but without giving it too much contrast to the rest of the Kitchen. It is the darkest side of the room and can stand the extra luminosity the clay provides. I was also pleased how bright this paint was as we had expected the kaolin to dry with a greyish tone but of course we had added a little pigment. However, this may also be due to the fact that the only kaolin which was readily available here was cosmetic grade! This paint was easy to make and apply and for me has none of the stark, rather clinical look of lime paint. We also love the fact that it is in keeping with the ethos and aesthetic of our organic hemp and lime wall covering.

Here's the film:

Now we've just got to make another batch up to finish off the wall between the sink and the chimney! Next up will be the sand and clay paint to cover the window recess in the bedrooms and then we'll be starting with an organic linseed-oil-based paint for the exterior woodwork. So there's plenty to come and I hope you'll join us. In the meantime all the best from a rather stormy Normandie and please feel free to share, comment or ask for further information on this topic,

Cheers Andy
© Andy Colley 2017


Home-made Ecological Paint for Interior Walls Part 1 Making Wheat Paste

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Using Natural Earth and Mineral Pigments in the Home and Garden 

The Alchemy of Artists' Materials - whether painting a leaf motif or a window frame, it's  so much more fun than opening a tin of more

Mixing and Using Lime Mortar

I’ve used lime mortar a lot in our present house firstly because it is obviously appropriate to a 300 year building, as it is sympathetic to the original build of stone laid on a bed of clay more

Using therapeutic clay & essential oils on a serious cockerel-inflicted wound

Every year we look after our neighbours' animals and birds when they go on holiday. As most of these are not used to being more

Using therapeutic clay on a deep infected wound

Montmorillonite or (French Green) clay is one of the most amazing natural minerals and around the World there are similar therapeutic-grade clays for you to use, wherever you may more


1 comment:

  1. Hi My question is can I use this recipe to paint wooden furniture? I restore mostly wood sometimes may be particle board or have laminate. I buy chalk paint which can be expensive, but works well in most every surface without sanding. Considering purchasing kaolin on line. I would also like to know if mildew is an issue after a period of time on the surfaces painted with this recipe. Thank you