Here's another easy science project showing how to make casein glue (binder) from milk. The result can be used to mix with raw pigment to make paint, for a sizing liquid, or gesso glue.
Making Casein Glue from Milk
1. Non-fat milk, 4 ounces (@ 1/4 cup)
2. 1-2 glass jars or bowls that hold 4-6 ounces, & 1 ceramic or aluminum pan for heating
3. Distilled white vinegar, 1 ounce (2 tblspns)
4. Paper coffee filters, small metal strainer, paper towels, sticks for stirring
5. Distilled Water, 1 ounce
6. Borax, Ĺ tsp
7. Small 2 ounce jars
1. Pour the milk in a jar and let it warm to room temperature.
2. Add the vinegar. This will coagulate the milk protein into small lumps (curdle) as it begins to precipitate.
3. Pour into pan and heat the solution on low for about 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally until the liquid becomes fairly clear, and the curds group together.
4. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the curds to completely settle together for another 5-10 minutes.
5. Place a coffee filter in a strainer over the top of a jar or bowl and slowly pour the curds into the filter. Youíll wind up with @ Ĺ cup liquid which can be discarded. The remaining solids will be @ 1 teaspoon.
6. Gently press the curds in the filter to squeeze out excess liquid. Place the curds on a paper towel. Break down the large lumps into smaller pieces.
7. Scrape the curds into an empty jar.
8. Heat about 1 oz of water below boiling point (microwave on high @ 22 sec.) and add borax powder. Stir briefly until dissolved.
9. Slowly add about half of this solution to the curds while stirring in order to neutralize any remaining acid from the vinegar. Let it sit for about 4 hours, stirring occasionally. The white curds will slowly dissolve and turn into a somewhat translucent glue. Add more borax liquid if itís still too lumpy, or make more curds if itís too thin. You can dilute the glue by just adding water.
10. This project will give you a little under 2 oz. of glue.
Use fresh (unfortified, non-homogenized) pasteurized non-fat cowís milk, if you can find it. Most commercial brands add vitamins A & E (D comes from UV light) and emulsifiers. Check with local dairies in your area or farmerís markets. Otherwise, look for non-fat powdered milk also without additives. What if any risks those additives may have on the paint or surfaces I canít honestly say, but itís not needed so itís worth the extra effort to find it fresh. You could also use cheese instead of milk; but there are added enzyme and bacterial cultures to deal with, so I think milk is a better choice. I wasn't able to get evaporated milk to work at all.
Borax powder (sodium borate) can usually be found in most grocery stores in the laundry section. Itís made in different levels of hydration, from 20 ďmuleĒ (laundry) down to 0. The borax sold in pigment supply stores is around 5 mule. I havenít found that it makes much difference which I type I use, but the higher grade (lower mule number) may dissolve better. Borax should not be inhaled or ingested, and can irritate the eyes, so be careful with it.
Other things can be substituted for borax, like tri-sodium phosphate (TSP.) This can be found in hardware stores in the janitorial section, but is banned in some areas because of the phosphate content. It seems to work well and breaks down the curds fast, but is typically more expensive by volume than borax. Other things to use are baking soda, ammonia carbonate, or hydrated lime all diluted in the same proportions as the borax solution above. Baking soda seems to make a weaker glue, and ammonia is very acidic. Lime reportedly makes a stronger glue but a milkier paint, and can adversely affect some pigments.
Sorry for the blurry pics.