Category: ink

Berry ink jubilee

ink. Comments Off on Berry ink jubilee

9th September

Berry inks:

Pokeberry (Concord roadside)

Elderberry (Sudbury backyard)

Beet (Gaining Ground)

pigment charts

ink. Comments Off on pigment charts

15th August

bark/tree pigments

berry pigments

flower/earth pigments

gathered plants to print

new pigment charts grouped by type: bark/tree, berry, flower/earth

todo: inks from pokeberry, Walden Pond mud, celandine poppy, sycamore fruits


ink. Comments Off on Weld

26th July

Went over to Gaining Ground today to harvest some Weld in full bloom to try to make a yellow lake pigment.  There is some Madder and Weld growing there from a previous farmer who planted a dye garden.  There isn’t a lot out there about making pigments, certainly not lake pigments, so we’ll see how this experiment goes.


Inks this week

ink. Comments Off on Inks this week

17th July

Buckthorn berries have been called an invasive, but who really knows what invasive means these days?  That language suggests objects and beings that belong and those that don’t along a lineage of ownership, shared identity, and centrality.  The issues with this kind of thinking run through so much these days, but in this case, what can they possibly mean?  Our climate is changing, so our backyards are changing.  What is there now may not be there in 20 or 50 years.  More so, what is there now most likely wasnt’ all there 50 years ago.  This Concordia landscape was more at a low of around 25% forest in Thoreau’s time, and now is more than 80%.  Trees and species that comprise and love the open fields, farmlands, and shrubs have little hope of finding a home now.  Species that find …

raspberry ink

ink. Comments Off on raspberry ink

5th July

wild black raspberries growing along parking lot median, got a few before the deer (who have been abundantly eating the Annual Sowthistle and other plants).  we’ll see  if this ink has more permanence than the last batch of juneberry ink

St Johnswort

ink. Comments Off on St Johnswort

2nd July

collected to make ink.  steeping in hot water now.  Likely will just make a very weak yellowy green wash.

Buckthorn for ink

ink. Comments Off on Buckthorn for ink

26th June

Lots of Buckthorn growing on the edge of the wetlands

  From the dried berries, a series of rich but fugitive colours is obtained; the berries used to be sold under the name of ‘French berries’ and imported with those of Rhamnus infectorius from the Levant. If gathered before ripe, the berries furnish a yellow dye, used formerly for staining maps or paper. When ripe, if mixed with gum-arabic and limewater, they form the pigment ‘Sap or bladder green,’ so well known to water-colour painters. The bark also affords a yellow dye..

Buckthorn berry juice contains Rhamnocathartin (which is yellowand uncrystallizable), Rhamnin, a peculiar tannic acid, sugar and gum. The fresh juice is coloured red by acids and yellow by alkalies, and has a bitter taste and nauseous odour. Its specific gravity should be between 1.035 and 1.070, but it is seldom …

tufted vetch ink experiment

ink. Comments Off on tufted vetch ink experiment

21st June

gathered tufted vetch flowers from around the parking lot margins, boiled them for a few minutes, all the color disappeared and I have another light green ink.

Nuclear Metals Hemlock

broadsides, ink. Comments Off on Nuclear Metals Hemlock

13th June

hemlock bark–red, orange, rust, brown

6/3 making the broadside today at FSC

6/3 observations from visit to Nuclear Metals Superfund site with Richard Primack

after a couple days in the solar cooker

At my visit with Richard Primack to Nuclear Metals Superfund site in West Concord, I gathered quite a bit of bark from a fallen Hemlock tree.  Hemlock’s have one of the highest concentrations of tannin in their bark, leading to over 70 million being felled in a few decades during the industrial era.  The remaining Hemlock’s have been blighted by the Woolly Adelgid insect.

Stinging Nettles and info on mordants

ink. Comments Off on Stinging Nettles and info on mordants

29th May

Today I visited Cherrie Corey’s garden and we gathered stinging nettles from all around her garden.  Now I am boiling the leaves and roots separately, with no mordants right now.  If this doesnt work, I’ll try a copper mordant with the leaves and maybe tin with the root…


Some good info I found while researching stinging nettle root dyes:

Mordants: water-soluble chemicals, usually metallic salts, which create a bond between dye and fiber thus increasing the adherence of various dyes to the item being dyed

Brightens the colors obtained from a dye source

Darkens/saddens hues, produces blacks, brown, gray

Copper vitriol
Improves likelihood of obtaining a green hue

Produces bright colors especially yellows, oranges, reds

ink plant search

ink. Comments Off on ink plant search

21st May

some plants to make ink out of:

Madder    dig pencil thick roots anytime,

Weld, July
Dyers Knotweed (at Gaining Ground?)
Japanese Knotweed?Stinging Nettle
Shaggy Ink Cap mushrooms
Oak Galls
Woad, after the leaves reach about six inches in length, June or July
Goldenrod, late summer
buckthorn berries

lots of good stuff on native american dye sources here

more dye plants
Sumac berries and leaves (blueblack)



Solar Cooker Ink

ink. Comments Off on Solar Cooker Ink

15th May

finally got the solar cooker up and running and the sun disappeared behind some clouds.  Hopefully tomorrow will work.  Need to make some reflectors to increase the solar energy.  measure and plan tomorrow…  bring cardboard for mockup…

birch bark steeping in solar oven May 2013

desk, May 2013

Deb leaf printing

ink. Comments Off on Deb leaf printing

13th May

Artist, tinkerer, and collaborator Deb Todd Wheeler came over to the Field Station today to inspire and make leaf prints from walnut, elm, and pine inks…

early leaf print from walnut ink April 2013

deb todd wheeler ink drawing May 2013

Glycerin as a Preservative

ink. Comments Off on Glycerin as a Preservative

7th February

“It is also used in the production of watercolor paints, printing inks, and cosmetics.”

“extracts made from Vegetable Glycerine typically have a shelf life of 14-24 months whereas alcohol extracts can have an extended shelf life of 4-6 years.”

“You can make a simple, herbal glycerite by simmering herbs in a mixture of 60% glycerine and 40% purified water for two to three hours. We have generally used about 1/4 cup of cut and sifted, dried herbs per 1 cup of glycerine/water solution. When you strain this solution, bottle it and store it in a cool, dark place. It retains its effectiveness for two to three years.”


“It seems that you can use glycerin as a preservative when you use 50% glycerin or more in a product.”

” foot lotion recipe with 25% glycerin, and it feels great on my feet…but it feels awful on other …

more ink recipes

ink. Comments Off on more ink recipes

4th February

iron gall ink

walnut ink   black walnut ink

butternut ink

lamp black ink

fermented pokeberry ink

shaggy ink cap ink  more about the mushrooms

other wood/berry/dyes


bring in: 100 proof vodka, cornstarch, ethanol, salt





thickening ink

ink. Comments Off on thickening ink

3rd February


PLUS-9090 is basically ink that contains certain inert or opacifying materials with no pigment. It is clear (creamy color) ink base that can be added to plastisol to extend the ink and get more volume out of the ink.Since Extender Base is a balanced ink – any amount can be added to plastisol. The more Extender Base added, the less opaque the ink will be.

Although Extender Base will make an ink less opaque, it is generally not used to specifically make an ink more transparent. For that purpose see TRANSPARENT BASE. It is designed more as a “bulking” agent and will basically provide more mileage from an ink at a lower cost because Extender Base is less expensive than pigment ink. If used to make an ink more transparent to print color-over-colore, the secondary color achieved may not be …

Lets Get Rusty

ink. Comments Off on Lets Get Rusty

1st February

If you want to make metal rust faster…

Method 1:

“Wet down entire piece with chlorine bleach, sprinkle lightly with salt, and allow to sit until it dries. Spray the piece with water, but lightly so the dried salt/bleach mixture doesn’t rinse off. Just wet the surface down. Let sit overnight.

The next morning, mix up a pint of FRESH hydrogen peroxide (standard 3% stuff found at drug stores) with a tablespoon of muriatic acid. Spray this mixture onto the piece. Allow to dry. Once dry, spray once more with this mixture. Let sit overnight.

Next morning, rinse completely with clean water, and you should have a decent rust by now. If there are areas that need more rusting, go back to step 5. Once you are happy with this rust, let it sit for a few days, lightly wetting the surface with water …

to thicken ink or not to thicken ink?

ink. Comments Off on to thicken ink or not to thicken ink?

1st February

Try using cornstarch, boil off excess water, leave ink out in air to evaporate(stir occasionally), extender base will thicken and make more transparent, pva glue( dries flexible, acid free), magnesium carbonate, molasses, ground chalk,


ink research from Abby, fall 2012

ink. Comments Off on ink research from Abby, fall 2012

1st February

How to make pigments + suggested plants –> color combinations:
Ferns with tannic acid: all wood/male ferns–
tannic acid is found in these ferns’ rhizomes (at the bottom of the page)


how to quickly make rust




For tannic acid:
Blue black color: oak, chestnut, sumac, mountain ash, and cherry trees
Green color: Hemlock and pine trees (can also collect from mimosa, birch, quebracho, and alder)
Horse chestnuts
Pomegranate rinds
Bearberry leaves
Fern rhizomes

For iron sulfate:
Iron scraps, nails, etc.

For pigments:
Bricks, colored glass, pottery, rust scrapings
Can also experiment with berries (see tannic acid above)
— Anything that can be pulverized, is insoluble (so it won’t react negatively to the binder), and free of organic matter than can decompose or rot
— Further instructions, and step-by-step guides, from this site:

How much to collect?
I am going to assume we want 100g of ink to begin with, and assuming ink has approximately the same …