Painting books and leather with milk paint

Milk paint tutorial from My Painted Door (.com) - painting on books

Did I ever mention that I love to collect things? Small things like skeleton keys, glass dooknobs, old eyeglasses and embroidered handkerchiefs. Medium sized things like vintage gas cans, old suitcases and galvanized metal for my garden. Even large things, like doors. Yes, I am collecting old doors and will eventually do an entire wall of them in my store. I have about 20 so far and will need 50+ to get 'er done.

I also collect random things that I find interesting, like these wooden thingys in the above photo. I don't even know what they are, but they were kinda cool and I couldn't resist buying them. So, if you know what they are, please leave me a comment. I would really appreciate solving the mystery.

One of my favourite collections is my vintage books. I love schoolbooks in particular. Most of my books I would never consider painting as they are lovely as is. Other books, like the ones I used for this tutorial, are from the 1960's and were pretty beat up so I had no problem painting them.

I am totally in love with painted books! As I was painting these ones, I was jumping out of my skin with excitement. I am thrilled with the results! 

Painted books is a wonderful way to display collections and other random stuff. I can just picture a fireplace mantel or a bookshelf constantly changing with displays of cool things and painted books. My sister, Sheila, collects spinning tops that would look amazing displayed on painted books. The best part is that books are a dime a dozen at thift shops and yard sales.

Here is my before and after shot. I had to include my little painted hammer because it is so darn cute and it kinda went with the "do it yourself" books. I love how the paint chipped off it in some areas. (Makes it look like I have been working hard hammering stuff). The hammer is painted in Sweet Pickins 'ol blue.

Milk paint tutorial from My Painted Door (.com) - painting on books - before and after

Enough random chatter. Let's get started with the tutorial. I painted these three books using Sweet Pickins denim milk paint. I mixed up 2 tablespoons of paint powder with 2 tablespoons of warm tap water. I originally planned on painting 2 coats of paint, but I loved how the books looked with just one coat, so I did not put on a second coat. Milk paint goes a long way - 2 tablespoons for three books and I did not use all the paint I had mixed. I did not add Extra Bond to the paint as I knew the books were quite porous and would not require it.

Keep in mind that the books are all the same and painted with only one coat of paint. I just used slightly different techniques to achieve different looks.

creating a "shabby chic" look

It doesn't get any easier than this. I brushed on one coat of paint and then sanded the entire book using a medium/fine grit sanding block. I then used my handy wood shim wrapped with a scrap of 100 grit sandpaper to distress the books more in some areas - mostly where the writing on the books was. I find I have much more control sanding small areas with the wood shim. I wiped off the paint dust with a rag.

That's all that I did to this book. I liked the dull, "shabby chic" look of the paint once it was sanded. I did not topcoat the book with anything such as wax or hemp oil.

Milk paint tutorial from My Painted Door (.com) - painting on books

creating a more vibrant look

top 2 images

I did the exact same thing as the first book - one coat of paint, sanded the entire piece and then used my wood shim and sanded even more paint off in the area of the wording, exposing more of the red lettering. Then I wiped the dust off with a rag.

other 3 images

I waxed this book with Daddy's Vans Furniture Polish. I used a waxing brush to put on the wax and then wiped it down with a lint free rag. I used only one coat of wax. The wax really brought out the colours in the books and the red writing really popped.

Milk paint tutorial from My Painted Door (.com) - painting on books

creating a "run over by a truck" look

I gotta be honest here. I am not particulary fond of this last book, but I had before picture of three books, so I was kinda committed to show you the third book. This book was really beat up looking to start with, so I decided to age it even more.

top 2 images

Again, one coat of paint and then I sanded with a sanding block. I didn't bother sanding with the wood shim because I was hoping that by applying glaze I could darken the words on the book. I wiped off the paint dust with a rag.

other 3 images

I used a foam brush and covered the entire book with Sherwin Williams Van Dyke brown glaze. Normally it is easy to brush on the glaze and then selectively wipe off the areas where you don't want it. Unfortunately, the book really absorbed the glaze and it was left on too long while I was taking a picture. By the time I tried to wipe it off, it was a done deal and I really had a hard time removing any glaze. I even tried to use paint thinner (which usually works wonderfully) to wipe off the glaze. No luck. I finished off the book by giving it a quick coat of Daddy Van's wax.

I would say this book looks like it hung around a mechanic's garage for about 10 years, got really dirty and greasy and then was run over by a truck or two. But, if you are looking for that "run over by a truck" look, it's great! But, on a positive note, it would look great as part of a Halloween display alongside ghosts and goblins and other scary stuff.

Milk paint tutorial from My Painted Door (.com) - painting on books

red book

The red book at the top of the page is painted with Sweet Pickins red wagon milk paint and was waxed with Daddy's Vans Furniture Polish.

painting on leather

This poor old leather suitcase was very beat up and was destined for the dump. I had a bit of leftover Sweet Pickins window pane paint and decided it would be a great trial piece. I didn't even bother painting the whole suitcase.

Here are my findings …milk paint on leather rocks! This is just plain milk paint with no Extra Bond added to it. I love how it chipped off in areas and crackled on it's own. Milk paint does amazing things without effort that would take a whole lot of work to try to accomplish with latex paint.

Normally I would have topcoated the suitcase with some wax or hemp oil to help protect it, but because this puppy is heading to the dump, I did not bother.

I should mention that this is the final look. Once the paint has dried, it is rock solid and will not continue to flake or chip off.

Milk paint tutorial from My Painted Door (.com) - painting on leather

Products I used for painting

Note: I no longer carry Sweet Pickins Milk Paint, but you can take a peek at the wonderful selection of Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint that I offer.

2" ChalkPro paint brush 

1" disposable foam brush

Sweet Pickins milk paint in red wagon, denim and window pane

medium/fine grit sanding block and 100 grit sandpaper

ChalkPro wax brush - medium size

Daddy Van's furniture polish

Sherwin Williams Van Dyke brown glaze (not available at the shop)

old rags (for wiping off paint dust and glaze)

soft lint-free rag (for wiping down wax)

coming soon

I am now working on painting metal and glass. I have transformed a few real ugly things like this light fixture to share with you. The painting is done, but I still have to take photos and write up a blog post.

old light fixture waiting to be transformed by My Painted Door (.com)
Posted on February 27, 2014 and filed under Milk Paint.