Fire In the Soul

Fire In the Soul
"Fire In the Soul" From the Merka series in The Elves of the Woodland Realm

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What is milk paint and why you would want to use it.

Them Two Birds Organic Milk Paint

On the side I paint, refinish and build furniture and home interiors. I have a booth at two local antique shops, Woodstock Antiques and Marietta Antique Mall. However, I also do work for local businesses and designers. This coffee table is a piece for a designer. She wanted a red and grey distressed finish.

 I found a product by another local company here in the ATL, Them Two Birds. They create barn doors, rustic furniture and interiors using repurposed vintage and antique barn wood. They also have a line of paint called milk paint. What is milk paint you ask and why is it different from any other paint products?
Safe Paint in Barn Red
Genuine milk paint is technically a calcium-caseinate. That means simply that it is made from milk protein, (also known as casein) and lime, (also known as calcium), plus the earth or mineral pigments. There are casein paints of many varieties as well as casein glues and adhesive coatings. About a hundred years ago in Germany a casein paint was made using formaldehyde instead of lime. Another formula used borax instead of lime. Still another used additives like synthetic plastics such as acrylics, vinyls or acetates, and the list goes on and on. Many of these formulations are good paints, as are oil and latex. But they are NOT milk paints, so don't be confused with these other paints or chalk paint. I will do a post on chalk paint later.

Genuine milk paint should be as close as possible to the old primitive, home-made paint made on the back porch with skim milk or buttermilk, crushed limestone and pigments found around clay pits, or chimney soot and mineral colors crushed and powdered. This original paint goes back about 6000 and more years as evidence by early cave paintings. Them Two Birds milk paint is exactly that. It is manufactured here in the US, using natural, organic ingredients.

As it is free of:
- VOC's
- HAP's
-solvents or harmful poisons of any kind
-petroleum by-products
-synthetic preservatives
or odors it is safe to use on kid's furniture, toys, walls and whatever else you can think of. It is also excellent for those that are pregnant/nursing, trying to live a greener lifestyle or those with chemical allergies. Or people like me who a bit of all of the above. Also, the use of genuine milk paints can help you obtain credits toward LEED certification (LEED - NC IEQ Cedit 4.2- low emitting materials- paints & coatings).

Them Two Birds offers several different colors, including exclusive colors! It comes in pints and quarts and 2 different formulas. Original milk paint excellent for porous and bare surfaces and the safe paint formula for non-porous surfaces and finished surfaces. The safe paint formula, meaning safe for walls and non-porous is excellent for covering large surface areas. It is a bit smoother than the original formula.. I will be use ing the new formula on this project becasue it has a finish on it. 

This was a simple process:
1. Apply wax where I wanted the paint to come off
2. Apply the first color I wanted to show through
3. Apply more wax where I want the gray to show through
4. Apply the top color
5. Distress the piece
6. Apply a coat of tung oil (or hemp oil) for lasting protection

It comes in power form in a reseal able bag, which is fabulous! You simple mix however much you need with equal parts water. Now, I personally prefer to mix it a little on the thicker side when using it on non-porous or finished surfaces. It is not thick like latex or oil. The safe paint goes on pretty smooth, but there will be some unmixed powder in it, this is normal. Remember this is not latex. The original formula actually gets absorbed into the wood, kind of like a stain. Compared to latex that sits on top of the surface.

After all my steps, this is what I have:

The client was very happy with the piece. She wanted more red than grey showing and not too distressed.  The oil take roughly 24 hours to dry and 7 days to completely cure. After it is cured the finish is extremely durable and water resistant. For more information on their products and services, you can contact Them Two Birds on their website or Etsy shop.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Making of Merka

When I come up with my ideas, I also figure out how I am going to accomplish the image I want to get. My goal would be to to get my image straight from the camera and be done, but there are somethings, especially in the genre I like to play in, that can't be done in real life. Yes, I am an original Star Wars trilogy fan. Why, because of the costuming! Among other thing of course. I digress...

Costuming and Makeup

I am all about reusing and repurposing everything. By everything I mean EVERYTHING. Here are some images of Merka's costume in the making.

I reused the suede off of a pair of boots that my oldest daughter wore and then passed to my second daughter. The zipper ripped out of them and I just couldn't throw away that fabulous tan suede. I salvaged it and tucked it away for later.I had also salvaged the "corset" loops on the skirt from an old purse my mom found at the thrift store. It had some faux fur (that I am collecting for another photo shoot) so she picked it up for next to nothing. I loved the sides of the bag and figured I could use them on an outfit as well as the faux fur. 
The boots I repurposed the suede from.

Pieces of suede from the boots.
                                                  Indilwen Eruanna- Empress of the Woodland Realm
When I did the Indilwen shoot, I used spirit gum to apply her hear tips. Since I have no formal education on costume make up, I was just kind of winging it. This time I did a bit more research. I found that you can apply light weight appliances with a 3D makeup gel. It worked great with this shoot, especially since I was working with a 5 year old who has latex and other chemical allergies with her skin. The gel is gelatin base with no latex and comes off with soap and water, unlike spirit gum. The one issue is that it responds to heat. When it gets too hot, it starts to melt and get soft. By the end of the session little Merka's ears were falling off, though it was 5 hours later.

Her makeup look achieved using various shades of brown eye shadows applied in an ombre  fashion. I started with the lighter shade and blended out and up into darker. The metallic gold flakes are gold gilding flakes from a craft store. The flakes aren't as expensive as the sheets, so that worked well for my budget. If you are wanting the flakes to stay on for a long period of tie, say, for a con or festival, I would use the spirit gum to attach the flakes. However, since this was just for a photo shoot, I used hair spray. I sprayed a VERY light mist over the eye shadow to seal it. After it dried completely, I sprayed a bit on my fingers and dabbed it on her face. Then I pressed the gilding to the wet spray. You have to act quick becasue the spray drys ultra fast. I worked in small sections becasue the spray dried so fast.The gold stripe and dots were make using a metallic gold eyeliner.

Location and Capturing the Images

I just shot in my back yard and my in-laws yard. This is the tree in my in-laws yard that I just had to get some images with. It is stunning and HUGE.My in-laws, my husband, my friend, and my parents all helped me with this shoot on one way or another.

My father-in-law and my assistant for the day.

My husband photo bombing. Epic.

All in all I'd have to say it was a successful shoot. I am very excited for the next one. I have it scheduled for the end next month. The moss hair clips and elven crown are available in my shop.
Next: A look behind the Indiwen series. Remember to visit  and like my Facebook page to keep up with the latest news and coupon codes for my Etsy shop!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What's in my head... The Elves of the Woodland Realm

'Her Heart Stirs'
My mind is always going, always creating and coming up with things. Things in every medium I use, which is quite a bit. I have always been this way. As a child I would hear music and see images of the story in my mind. It wasn't always the literal story of the song, but how the song made me feel. Those emotions, the passion I had, created Doorways. Doorways into the worlds in my imagination. I still hold the keys to those Doors.

The Elves of the Woodland Realm is one of the worlds alive in my mind. The project started with my concept of Merka, a wild Woodland elf belonging to the Raa clan who rule the realm. She is based on my second daughter who has a very similar personality to Merka, which means 'wild'. When I came up with the concept it was late fall and I knew I wouldn't get the image I wanted until spring here in the South. That got me thinking about the winter. This is my passion, I couldn't not have a project going, my imagination wouldn't let me and now neither my heart. 

That is when Indilwen Euranna, meaning "the maiden Lily, a gift from God", was created. She is the eldest of the Raa, meaning lion, clan siblings. She is the ruling empress now and like Merka, Indilwen is based on one of my daughters, my oldest. I started right away on getting everything together and was able to complete the series by the end of February 2014. 

Indilwen Eruanna IIShe cares for her people and longs for their freedom.

 After I finished shooting the Merka and Indilwen series's, I realized that I have more of the Raa family and their story to create, and that I should create a picture book with the images and the story. I am hoping to have it completed and available for purchase by summer 2015.

Some of  Merka's, accessories are available for purchase in my Etsy shop and prints of both Merka and Indilwen are available on DeviantArt. You can also visit my website for more information on my products, photography for hire and gallery.

Follow along for my next post about how I created Merka's, costume and set, and how I turned old boots into her costume details. Also coming soon, a post on Indilwen and her costume.