The process for creating homemade ink is pretty much always the same and a lot simpler than you might think. In fact, if you just want to make it for fun or for the kids, you could also simply simmer the plant material with water and then reduce until you get a concentrated liquid.
On the other hand, if you want to obtain quality ink that adheres well to the paper and with better resistance over time, I recommend the following recipe.
- 1t of fresh vegetable matter or 1/2t if dried: flowers, leaves or fruits
- 1t of water
- 1/2c. powdered gum arabic (a binder, could be replaced by honey if you don't have it on hand)
- small cauldron that will no longer be used for cooking
- small jar with lid to store ink
- mordant sometimes necessary*: 1 tbsp. alum
- accessories for filtering: coffee filter, sieve or piece of fine cloth
- 1 preservative: cloves, clove or thyme essential oil.
- Optional (for preservation)
- 1 pinch of salt and 1 tsp. vinegar (per cup of water) As vinegar sometimes changes the color, I am not inclined to add it but it can help the conservation. Personally, I often omit this step and I keep my ink in the fridge.
- Sodium benzoate could be used at 0.5-1% sodium benzoate based on your ink weight.
*About mordants: Some natural dyes don't need mordant to increase their staying power and lightfastness. Onion skins and tea fall into this category. The others will need to add a mordant (usually tannins or mineral salts) if you want to increase their hold and adhesion.
The mordant most often used is alum (sometimes available in pharmacies) since it does not affect the pH and therefore the color of the ink obtained. On the contrary, if we want to modify the color of our ink, it can be interesting to add sodium carbonate, vinegar or iron to our solution.
I will do a future article specifically on mordents. Until then, I suggest you go to the pharmacy to get a small bottle of alum, often right next to the witch hazel, peroxide and rubbing alcohol.
Coreopsis or Cosmos Flower Ink
And now you can try it!
Different factors can affect the result obtained with the ink. Using different kinds of paper can be interesting. It is also possible to play with the viscosity of our ink (more or less water). Acidic or basic substances as well as iron can modify the colors so can be interesting to add to the sheet when creating.
I invite you to explore!