Paint, shale, weeds and a Google calendar

Written by Lizabeth Gray on .

farmers-market-200x135Before I start my Julia Child's approach to house painting there are a few dates coming up in Green Pittsburgh.

Tonight at 5 p.m., the Allegheny County Council is holding a public hearing on Marcellus Shale gas drilling at the County Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh. Good time to voice your opinion on the important topic. The county has a pdf with more information and if you want to be heard, requests are taken.

Today is also a volunteer workday at the Highland Park Entry Garden with the Men's Garden Club of Pittsburgh. Beautification starts at 6 at the garden's entrance and no registration is required. This weeding event happens every other Wednesday so grab your garden gloves.  Go to the top of Highland Road and you will run into the garden entry.

Not feeling like weeding? Try the Farmers at Phipps at 2:30. Do a little shopping on the historic green of the Phipps Conservatory. Local produce is the fare with organic the way. This is another Wednesday in summer event to remember.



Now onto our new Google calendar which I am hoping you will populate. If you have a Google calendar on your site and or blog, give me a shout and we can become friends ... or in the words of a Vulcan, "We will meld."

I grabbed the calendar at Bike PGH and the East End Brewery to give it a start so check it out. And if you don't have a Goggle calendar of your very own,  send a note my way with the event info and we'll get the word out.

Now you could be like me and head for Home Depot, Lowes or Sherwin Williams and pick up one of the new low voc paints out there. There is a great variety available, amazing colors and less of those toxic fumes to clutter up your home or lungs.

Or if you're feeling that inner child trying to break … you know, the one who always tried to eat the paste in kindergarten … try whipping up a batch of your own. The recipe isn't that complicated and it can be quite fun although a tinge messy.

There are four basic ingredients to paint: pigment, binder, filler and solvent.

Instead of using chemical compounds to give your paint color, try using plants, minerals, even insects for coloring. You can get raw pigments, mostly in powder form, at art supply stores and sometimes at the big box stores. Check their sites to see what your local store has in stock. You can also order all sorts of pigments online.

The binder … binds, adheres the paint to the surface for you. Byproducts of refining crude oil, which is used in most paints, can be replaced with natural products that give you the same adhering quality. Try hitting the kitchen for some good old plain flour for your binder.

Fillers bulk up your paint and can vary the texture. Using a bit of play box sand can give you the same effect, as you will find with many expensive texture paints at a fraction of the cost. Chalk, limestone and marble when ground can be used as alternative fillers.

Mother Earth News recommends clay with flour binder. And since we live in Western Pa. with tons of clay soil, and if you want an earth tone to your paint, dig up your backyard and make this ingredient free.

The last ingredient in most paints is solvent and this is where we run into environmental troubles ... VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). While it does help with the consistency of the paint it is also the main reason you always paint with the windows open in a well -ventilated room. These toxins can cause nausea, headaches and, unfortunately they last for years. So if you need to add a solvent, opt for citrus based if you can.

Here's a short list of sites with natural paint recipes and some other sites where you can purchase low VOC paint if you're not feeling like a Julia Child of paint!

We also have a book suggestion, seems like everyone loves this book, "The Natural Paint Book" by Lynn Edwards, and Julia Lawless and their latest book, The Natural Paint Decorator: Recipes, Finishes, Techniques by Lynn Edwards


Mother Earth News



Real Milk … interesting site to cruise around.

I'll try to add some more sties a bit later today. Now, outside you go, it's beautiful out there!




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