Time to catch up after almost a full year away, dear readers. So instead of lots of words, I have lots of photos- all about making dye-based inks from plants that I grow in my garden or forage here in Ottawa (Zone 4 -ish, USDA). BTW, I have lots more ink pics on my Instagram so do check that out.
During the last year, I have worked to put together a limited palette of colours that represent some of the most easily accessible local and native plants; then to try the inks out on various papers and with just one project on fabric ( silk dupion and vintage linen).
I tossed around ideas for packaging the little bottles attractively but usefully – some ideas worked, some didn’t. So after a year of review and experimentation, and with the help of my notes, this year I hope I can say something a bit more definite about how I can expect my inks to work, how the colours last, how they mix, which substrates are best for them…all of that! The basic palette I have developed consists of hibiscus pink/blue, grape purple/blue/grey, buckthorn green/yellow, osage orange-yellow, walnut sepia-brown, indigo blue, avocado reds and blends of these to make greys, blacks and other neutrals. And of course, this year, I plan to make some new colours using other plants and new blends of the basic palette.
Meanwhile, while waiting for the new growing season, I have been invited to give a few presentations and demos etc. That experience, I hope, will give me insight into what artists would like to know about natural inks. In general, I advise artists that the current wisdom on the preparation and use of natural dyes and the selection of appropriate dye plants applies also to these dye-based inks.
Indigo on paper