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Wood Bowl with Milk Paint

Vintage American Furniture Technique

Wood Bowl with Milk Paint is first painted with a solid coat of orange pant, then I cover it with a solid coat of blue paint. When dry I use sandpaper to expose the orange color. Makers use this technique often to restore or duplicate vintage American furniture. As the paint wears away the previous layers of color begin to appear. This becomes obvious on high spots where there is wear from rubbing. Milk paint is organic and made from natural products and it is food safe. I sometimes use this process when the wood on a finished bowl is bland and lacks character.

Paint vs. Wood Purists

This large wood bowl features milk paint on the exterior. The high spots on the body band clearly exhibit multiple layers of paint. This enhances the pattern of the wood grain. There are members of the Woodturning community who are against painting wood. They call themselves “Wood Purists” and believe that wood bowls should not be painted. This makes no sense to me. For me wood is another form of a canvas. After all, wood furniture has been painted since the beginning.

Painting A Copper Patina

Other decoration techniques that I use include painting with copper and then oxidizing the surface so that the piece appears to be from another period of time. Often the viewer is uncertain if the bowl is wood or metal due to the patina effect. When this occurs, I consider the piece successful.


I design and produce all the items featured on my website in my Montvale, New Jersey, USA studio. My main tool is the Robust, American Beauty wood lathe. Most of the forms that I produce start on the lathe. Then the piece goes to the studio bench for additional decorative techniques and a protective finish.


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