I am making inks from plants in the area of Concord/Lincoln.  These include: trees such as oak, walnut, elm, maple, birch; ink cap mushrooms, pokeberries, ferns, and other flowers and leaves.

Researching medieval ink recipes, fibersheds, the agency of plants, plant communication, chemistry, printmaking, and font design.

These inks will be used in the production of field notes, field broadsides, and other works in the Field Station during the residency period.


7/4  Steeped Hemlock ink
Hemlock Bark
ethyl acohol
crush Hemlock bark into small pieces with hammer, steep in rainwater for 3 weeks in solar oven, strain out bark bits, simmer to concentrate, add ethyl acohol to preserve
7/17  Sap Green
Buckthorn Berries
ethyl alcohol
smash berries, boil alum in water, add to berries, add ethyl alcohol to preserve

08/01 Weld ink
strip all seeds leaves, and flowers from Weld plant, steep in water (do not boil) for at least 24 hours
strain all plant parts
boil 1 T alum in water, add to ink (brings out yellow)
grind calcium carbonate with morter and pestle
add to ink to make a lake
add ethyl alcohol to preserve

08/01 Sumac ink
pluck sumac drupes at full ripeness, and strip all berries from drupe
steep with leaves for a few hours
simmer down to thick paste
add ethyl alcohol to preserve


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 …