Now where was I?

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

Indigo indigofera on paper
Avocado reds, buckthorn greens, indigo,osage yellows, grape purples, hibiscus blues/pinks
Grandson drawing in one of my arty journals at the Christmas craft fair. Little packs of inks with swatched labels.

Above. Three ink paintings from my series ” Contained/Uncontained”. Directly below: Lemon juice and baking soda swiped over inks to shift colours.

Inks and paintings on panel and on Artist Book covers. And cute dropper bottles

Above: Tiny ink paintings on panel from my “Contained/Uncontained” series.Below: Swatching various ink colours onto papers and fabrics.
Ink colour varies depending on the papers used. The pH of the paper itself can shift the ink colours. FUN!
So swatching tells you a lot.

Couldn’t resist the pic of grandson’s kitty, supervising. And note the little bottle of English woad ink and a pan of handmade watercolours, gifts from an artist friend  in Tennessee who made these. Plus the ceramic palette (egg dish) I got from the Dollar Store.

The last series of photos shows inks printed onto silk and vintage linen using ink filter and swatch papers as dye carriers.

I have found that the bottles with droppers are more practical to use than the screw-topped ones which look cute and pack up nicely but are a tad tippy;  you also have to pour the ink out of the bottle to get at it which can be wasteful.

Ink filter papers and ink swatch papers used as dye carriers to print on silk and vintage linen.