Have you ever wondered how to make your own natural painting inks? Read for more and directions on how to make them at home!
You can purchase an at home ink making kit in my store. Purchase of a kit comes with an exclusive free How to video with more ink making and art making tips.
A brief history:
Inks have been used for centuries, it is said to have originated 4500 years ago by the Egyptians & Chinese. Originally made from charcoal and soot and mostly black.
You might have also heard about Chinese or India ink - a glossy, black, carbon based ink that has been used for over 5000years in Asia. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a lot of inks have spiritual relevance and links.
You're probably also familiar with Gall ink, made of gall nuts, a binder, tannins, iron and some water. Gall nut ink has been used for centuries and is known for its use in old manuscripts and other biblical texts - its the reason you see the reddish color because of the iron still oxidizing.
Natural inks are honestly the coolest thing to me as they have so much life contrary to the ink we are used to seeing in print. I am also really interested in the stories that aren't told, and the cultures that have used these materials in ways that have not been documented in Western History.
My process has been very experimental and abstract. I've been trying out different pigment and material and enjoy the process a lot. I would encourage you to have a go and see what kind of inks you can make!
Now for the fun part!
How to make a Natural pigment painting ink!
Natural inks are pretty simple to make and consist of 5 ingredients; a pigment, a binder, tannins, iron and some water. They're basically a pigment paint + iron. I like using them as painting inks as the consistency mirrors a watercolor paint.
Start by making a pigment paint.
Step 1: Add 1/4 a tablespoon of your pigment (I am using instant coffee)
Step 2: Add a tablespoon of water to your pigment and mix the pigment in fully, you should have something that looks like a watercolor paint
tip (I like using hot water to get the pigment to dissolve fully and evenly)
Step 3: Add your binder and mix it in! (I like to use honey but there are alternatives like maple syrup or gum Arabic). You only need a little, half the amount of pigment e.g 1 tablespoon of pigment: 1/2 tablespoon of honey.
Step 4: Next I crushed one iron supplement tablet with the back of a spoon and added just a little to my mixture. You need very little iron, I used about a pinch. If your ink is not dark enough you can always come back and add a little bit more.
note that iron tablet is an irritant, please wear gloves and a face mask if you have sensitive skin
Step 5: Mix it all in! Your paint texture should not be super sticky as it will not dry, but it also shouldn't be too watery - the texture should be a little runny, like a watercolor with a bit of body. You are now ready to paint with your natural inks!
They do take time to oxidize, so slowww all the way down and watch your ink oxidize and turn black as it reacts with the pigment and the air.
tip: make a color swatch and label it so you can keep coming back to your natural inks knowing how they will turn out.
This method works for a lot of different pigments including turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, different spices, ochres etc.
To store: sterilize a small glass jar and put your ink inside, make sure to label! Add a few drops of clover oil to preserve the ink from going moldy. I also like to keep my inks in a cool dark place or in tinted glass jars.
Kits come with reusable glass jars and a glass vial to store your future inks.
Safety tips when making natural inks:
Always make sure you know what pigment you are using if you are sourcing natural pigments (you don't want to create any toxic inks). Depending on the plant material, you may need to utilize a ventilated room, open a nearby window, or work outdoors during the extraction process.
Iron supplement tablets crushed and in water are a skin irritant (if you do choose to use iron tablets please wear latex gloves, a face mask, make sure you are in a well ventilated area as well - outside) If you have sensitive skin I don't recommend using iron tablets
For all ink making tools use second hand/thrifted items or things you don’t use for cooking any longer. Make sure to label them & keep them in separate places!
Wipe down all cooking surfaces and keep a sterile environment, this is important for your own health but also for avoiding bacteria from spreading into your ink.
All tools including bottling jars should be sterilized or run through the dishwasher before and after use.