BIBLE HILL, N.S.
Gena Arthur could only gaze in wonder at the ancient cave paintings before her – and marvel at their longevity.
“I was in a cave in France and looking at these paintings that have been there for 30,000 years and, I asked myself, ‘what did they do’?” she said.
“You know, I put paint on my house last year,” she thought, at the time, “and it’s chipping off and flaking off and this is 30,000 years old.”
It was that train of thought that led to Arthur’s creation of her own company called Pure Paint, which produces plant-based, biodegradable paints.
Ancient paints, like those on the cave walls, were made from ingredients such as animal blood and fats, as well as plants, minerals and natural pigments.
“But those ancient paint formulas that have been around have proven to stand the test of time,” she said. In fact, she noted, the synthetic paints of today have only been in existence for about the past 75 years.
Arthur has long held a passion for “natural building.” At the time of her cave visit, she was doing research on natural paint for the plasters for earthen and natural structures such as straw-bale cottages and outdoor clay ovens she was creating.
“And in doing that, I had to learn how to make my own paints because obviously you can’t put a hardware store-style acrylic or latex on a natural product,” she said.
Eventually, she also did some work for the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC).
“Scientific evidence now shows that when paint breaks down it turns into micro plastic which is getting into every part of the environment,” she said.
“We have people with respiratory issues, plus off-gassing of chemicals in some paint products and it’s a big problem. We can’t take a half empty can of paint and put it in the garbage. So, if it’s not OK to do that, how is it OK to be coating the inside of our homes with it, especially rooms for infants where they’re sleeping 10, 12 hours a day?”
Looking at the problem from a business perspective, Arthur started experimenting with creating her own natural paints and, following seven years of research with assistance from the NRCC, has created Pure Paint.
“And once I mastered a lot of those ancient formulas I thought, these are so great, we have to modernize this, using all these natural, non-toxic ingredients and bring it forward and make it perform like the paints people are used to and give them that option,” she said. “So, now we’ve successfully accomplished that, and we have a product that performs identical to a latex or an acrylic but it’s a hundred-per-cent natural.”
Within the next four to six months, Arthur expects to relocate to a larger facility. She also plans to work with local farmers to start crop trials to produce Pure Paints own plant requirements.
Currently, the operation has three full-time and about eight part-time employees as well as an advisory board.
But Arthur said she fully anticipates those numbers will grow.
“We can easily see it growing to 30 or 40 people in the next two years.”
ABOUT PURE PAINT
- Pure Paints is made from 100 per cent natural products and is environmentally safe.
- It retails for between $34 and $38 per litre but offers double the coverage of most paints.
- It is washable and biodegradable.
- Applies and performs identical to latex and acrylic paints.
- Dries in one hour, can be recoated in six hours.
- Meets international toy standards.