A First Time for Everything

I’ve posted previously that I have been doing an online course with the wonderful @lornacrane called Perfectly Imperfect: Discovering Your Visual Language

It has been a real voyage of discovery. 

Not only have I made my own brushes, I’ve also been experimenting with acrylic inks (both firsts!) and I’ve even been staining papers with coffee. 

The whole experience has been a great inspiration.

In fact, I’m desperately trying to make it last by not racing through to the end. So more excitement to come! This week I took a break from the exercises to try my hand at making some inks from natural ingredients.

Make Ink

I spotted Jason Logan’s book on someone’s Instagram feed and thought I’d treat myself.  It’s a stunning book – a lovely read and the photographs are beautiful – I’d thoroughly recommend it. 

So, feeling inspired I thought why not give it a go? 

I started with some simpler formulas and thought I’d try my hand with ingredients I had knocking around the kitchen.  So my first creations are……

Beetroot Ink

Created by boiling some clearly-past-its-best-beetroot which narrowly escaped being thrown in the bin by my husband. Allowed it to cool, added a pinch of salt, vinegar and gum arabic. I was quite impressed by the vibrancy of the colour (which shouldn’t have been a surprise as whenever I cook beetroot it looks like a murder has taken place and leaves my hands stained for hours!)

My Beetroot Ink

Red Cabbage Ink

Probably my favourite colour – apparently this can either make a blue or purple ink. The version I created is definitely more in the purple camp – subtler than beetroot.

Red Cabbage Ink

Nettle Ink

A different process for this concoction – I simple blended leaves in the bullet with a little water, stained through an old tea towel, added vinegar, salt and gum arabic. The least successful of the colours: not only is it very pale, but in the blending it also lost some of the brightness of the green

Nettle Ink

Tea Ink

I ran out of nice bottles for this so had to scrabble around for glass containers but it is a nice colour – probably more for staining paper than anything else. This was the easiest to make – stewing tea bags in boiling water then just adding vinegar, a pinch of salt and gum arabic.

Tea Ink

Final Thoughts

The colours are understandably a lot more subtle than the vibrant hues you get with Liquidex inks but beautiful none the less!

3 responses to “A First Time for Everything”

  1. Oh yes I have beetroot in my fridge still waiting for me to make a dye… Avocados make a nice soft pink… Use the skins and the stone, clean off any of the flesh and boil them, they will freeze as well so I have a large number in my freezer ready to boil… There are so many YTube videos on making dyes…

    Onion skins make quite good dyes (red or brown) red cabbage too… They make purples and can make a green with the brown onion skins. It’s all about what you add to the mix.

    I’m assuming adding the Gum Arabic makes them an ink rather than a dye.

    I will be dying paper with mine.

    Hope that’s helpful… 😁😁

    Elaine x

    • Oh thank you so much. I must try onions and avocado. I also want to try ash as that seems to make beautiful greys.

      I’m not sure what differentiates ink and dye. The liquid doesn’t seem very thick so not sure what makes it ink but all the repels say to add gum Arabic.

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