Monday, October 10, 2011

Homemade Black Walnut Ink (continued)

The waiting begins. My ink may be ready to strain by Halloween, possibly the week after.

Boiled husks with liquid.

Rusty old screws and washers to produce that iron tannate in the ink.

Clean jars waiting to be filled, rubber gloves handy.

A boiling pot of walnut husks. The aroma is a not unpleasant earthly scent. I'm sure my house will smell of hot walnut husks for days to come.

The task of boiling the walnut husks and pouring the resultant 'soup' into my jars wasn't nearly as messy as I had feared. I did have a small boil over so I cut the heat back and let the husks simmer for 30 extra 10 mins. for good measure. I sacrificed an old teflon pot for the cause, also a wooden spoon which came in handy to prevent another boil over. I then used a small coffee cup as a ladle to get my soup from pot to jar. Paper towels are another thing I'd recommend having handy for splashes and spills.

I wanted to understand the part rust plays in the ink making process so I began another online search. Rusted iron combines with the tannins in the husks to produce iron tannate which is black. As walnut ink is a sepia color I understood this to mean it will create more depth of color. I also found more recipes for walnut ink, some producing faster results than the instructions I've posted but requiring more cook time. Some recipes called for an all day(or longer) boil. Some called for skipping the shelling process and boiling the whole nut, husk and all. I'll post links to a few walnut ink making instructions I found interesting:

Walnut Ink Instructions 2

Walnut Ink Instructions 3

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Homemade Black Walnut Ink ~ Instructions

When one of the members of my garden forum posted a photo of his black walnut harvest in progress I thought it would be fun to try making my own walnut ink and instructions online are not difficult to find. At my request this member kindly sent me a gallon size ziploc full of black walnut husks. He had already completed the really hard and messy job of removing the nuts from their husks(walnut husks are terribly staining). When the husks arrived some were still green so I set them out on my deck in the sun on newspaper to thoroughly dry and finish turning black. If you're interested in trying this squirrels can do the husking for you! As I understand it, squirrels will husk the nuts and store only the nutmeats in their shells leaving those precious husks under the tree, free for the taking.


1.) Black walnut husks

2.) Gloves!

3.) Two glass jars

4.) Some rusty nails or other rusty material that will fit in your jars.

5.) Fine mesh cheesecloth or muslin.

6.) A cookpot to boil the husks.

7.) Clove oil (can be purchased from a pharmacy).



Step 1) Procure your husks. You need only the outer husks, not the shells or the nuts themselves. If you are doing your own shelling wear gloves...please!

Step 2) You will need a few rusty nails or other rusty material that will fit in your jar. This will help cause a chemical reaction in the ink making process.

Step 3) Crunch the husks as best as you can. I plan to do this step by putting the husks in a clean ziploc and tapping the bag gently with a hammer or meat mallet. Put them in a pan with an equal amount of water (a good guess here is fine) and boil them for about 20 minutes, just long enough for them to start to break down. Let them cool a bit.

Step 4) Put your 'yummy stuff' in a glass jar with a couple of rusty pieces of iron and seal it up. Glass is inert and wont add anything to your mix, unlike some plastics and other metals. Now the waiting begins. This lovely stuff needs to ferment. Open it in a week (oh, you should do that outside. It’s stinky.) and scrape off the mold. Close it back up again and let it sit. Do this for another 4 weeks.

Step 5) Now you strain it. A piece of fine meshed cheese cloth(or several layers of regular cheesecloth), or muslin works great for this. Cut a piece off and with a rubber band put it over the top of another jar (recycled mayonnaise or pickle jars work great for this. I'll be using spaghetti sauce jars.) Push it in a bit with your finger to make a little depression or bowl. Slowly pour in your mix, scraping off the husks and depositing them in another bowl. You can use them twice, so go ahead and keep them!

Step 6) The best storage for your ink is something that doesn’t let in light. Ceramic or naturally tinted glass is great. UV light will break down the plant material in your ink. As a preservative, add some clove oil, just a couple of drops, and your ink will last for over a year. It should be a shade of brown. Let it sit out in the air to evaporate the water to get a darker shade, or add water to get a lighter shade. It makes a fairly permanent stain on paper, and is great for drawing or calligraphy. The same stuff can be used to dye fabric.

I just got my supplies together today so my results won't be ready for another 1 1/2 -2 months. I will be posting updates on my progress.


Friday, October 07, 2011

Daisytown Peepers ~ WIP 2

Since last post I completed the fourth frog and the centers of the flowers. When I started painting the petals I ran into a snag. Arches hotpress paper ain't what it used to be and I knew this when I began the painting. Foolishly I thought I could work around it and I still can but it will take longer than expected. The surface of this paper roughs up very easily when removing frisket film or masking fluid and no matter how careful I am I'm left with trouble. All the other elements of the painting were easily handled but the petals must be as smooth and pristine as possible and that's not going to happen with any water based or 'juicy' medium. I'll have to resort to heavy body acrylic and probably more than one coat to get the job done right. I will be working on this one here and there as my patience dictates but for now I'm moving on to something that hopefully will go much faster. I will post the final painting when it's complete.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Daisytown Peepers

I thought I'd post a quick update to keep things moving and to plug a product. Today I took a couple of closeups of my Daisytown frogs. I'm using a new(new to me)product, Lumiere by Jacquard. Lumiere is a light body acrylic paint similar to fluid acrylics although this paint offers more application options. Here I've used it as watercolor, applying it undiluted over a damp glaze of DS green gold and DR Vivid green. The color I chose was Halo Blue Gold, a mixture of pearlescent blue, green and metallic gold. I love metallics but I know how easy it is to over-do them. In this case they worked perfectly to make these frogs stand out. The gold shimmer makes these peepers look wet and sun kissed.