Sunday, April 14, 2013

Egg oil tempera

I finished the second Shaker hanging cabinet, and I decided that it could be used for an experiment regarding the finishing. The first cabinet received a coat of Danish oil, but I decided that it would make an interesting change to paint this cabinet instead.

My last try at making an egg oil tempera didn't start out too well:

But it was more than a year ago, so I was ready for trying one more time. This time I wanted to play safe, so I enrolled some family members to help, that way I had someone to blame, if anything went wrong.

Asger and Laura volunteered to mix the paint and Laura even volunteered to paint the cabinet.
Last time I added some white to the Bordeaux red, and that caused the unpleasant purple colour. So this year we agreed to only add the red colour and then to see what happened.

The recipe we used is: 1 egg, the equivalent volume of water, half the equivalent volume of boiled linseed oil, half the equivalent volume of turpentine.
According to the book in which I found the recipe, it is the preferred mixture for newly processed wood. There are 2 more recipes for wood that has been painted before.

We added some Bordeaux red colour to the batch, approximately 1 tablespoon. And it looked really good. Actually we added some of the batch to the colour, and made a paste, and then added the paste to the rest of the batch, to make sure there was not going to be any lumps in the paint.

I didn't have any real turpentine, so I used mineral spirit instead. I hope it will be OK, The boiled linseed oil is actually some ordinary oil that I have once tried to boil when I had a wood burning stove in the workshop. It might take a bit longer to dry than real boiled linseed oil.

Apparently it was very fun to paint, because Asger and Laura managed to produce 6 test boards while I finished installing the hinges.

They wanted to do some experimenting which ended up in roughly half the paint spilled onto the workbench I use for metal working. I think it will be pretty easy to remove once it is dry, if it isn't, it doesn't mater much anyway.

The good thing about an egg oil tempera is that it is easy to make, and flows really nice. It does not cover very well, but allows you to see through the paint afterwards. So it is not recommended if you are trying to hide knots or figured grain.

Laura painting

The spillage on the workbench.

The (identical) test boards


  1. My daughter spilled paint on my last workbench! I couldn't get mad, mainly because I can't get mad at her. I have to give you credit for making your own paint. I hate finishing of any kind. If it were up to me I would just coat everything in linseed oil and be done with it.

    1. I told my daughter that it was OK, and that mishaps like this did happen, which is why we don't do it in the kitchen but in the workshop. Luckily we had enough paint left to cover the cabinet.
      I agree with the linseed oil thing, but I would really like to be better at finishing which includes painting, so I guess that I have to do something to get better (practise)

  2. One thing I notice about milk paint is that the first coat always looks less than ideal and doesn't cover well. The second and any subsequent coats make an amazing difference. Perhaps it is similar with your egg paint?

    1. I think you are right about the covering, but the egg oil tempera always retain some kind of transparency.
      I will see how long time it will take before it is dry, and then I will probably give it one more coat.

    2. I found a good recipe for beer paint a while back, but usually wind up drinking the ingredients.