Making Pure Ink: The Course of and Recipe for Yellow Ink

We’re delighted to be stocking the ebook Make Ink: A Forager’s Information to Pure Inkmaking by Jason Logan, foreword by Michael Ondaatje (Abrams). Jason is the founding father of The Toronto Ink Firm, makers of effective high quality artist’s inks harvested from the streets and bushes of Toronto, utilizing all pure pigments mixed with meals grade Indian shellac and Canadian Defend wintergreen. Learn on for 2 excerpts from the ebook, together with the fundamental course of for making pure ink and Jason’s recipe for Turmeric Alcohol Ink.


Make Ink: A Forager’s Information to Pure Inkmaking by Jason Logan, foreword by Michael Ondaatje
Cowl © 2018 Abrams


Making Pure Ink: a Primary Recipe

Textual content by Jason Logan
Images by Lauren Kolyn

Right here is my secret: Pure ink isn’t that difficult. You possibly can throw nearly any pigment-rich base ingredient into an previous pot with vinegar and salt, boil it up for an hour or two, add a pair drops of gum arabic, and voila—you might have an ink. Consider ink as any colored water that’s everlasting on paper. All of the recipes on this ebook will make 2 cups (480 ml) of ink, or about eight normal 2-ounce (60 ml) bottles. I’ve tried to be as actual as doable with portions, however take into account that the ultimate quantity of ink you make will rely on how lengthy you cook dinner your ink and the way a lot liquid your foraged materials may include.

Your objective shouldn’t be a set quantity of ink however slightly a color and consistency that feels proper to you. In case your ink is simply too skinny, preserve cooking; in case your ink will get too thick, add a bit extra water. Not like a effective French sauce, it’s fairly onerous to “spoil” an ink. And typically a really faint ink, if collected from a really particular plant, can change into a favorite.



Notice: These are the supplies I like to recommend each inkmaker have useful. You received’t want each single one for each recipe, however the extra instruments you might have obtainable, the extra methods you’ll be able to attempt.

  • Water
  • A vibrant base ingredient (comparable to berries, rocks, charcoal, nuts, roots, or leaves)
  • Potato masher
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mortar and pestle
  • A pot that you simply don’t thoughts devoting to inkmaking
  • Spoon or stir stick
  • White vinegar (cleansing grade if yow will discover it)
  • Salt
  • Thick white paper, for testing
  • Gum arabic (a binder you will get at most art-supply shops)
  • Wintergreen oil or complete cloves
  • Glass containers with tight-fitting lids
  • Sticker paper, for labels
  • Glass muller or palette spatula, for use on a glass floor
  • Giant bowl
  • High quality-mesh strainer or colander
  • Funnel
  • An previous espresso grinder (optionally available)
  • Espresso filters
  • Funnelglass dropper
  • Litmus papers
  • Rubber gloves and a few rags for cleanup


Sterilising Your Supplies

Notice: Sterilisation is very really helpful for any recipe that requires plant-based supplies.

1. Place clear bottles, dropper, caps, and utensils in a big saucepan.

2. Add sufficient water to cowl all of the tools, ensuring there are not any air bubbles.

3. Carry the water to a boil, and boil quickly for five minutes.

4. Flip off the range and permit the water to chill fully.



1. Put together the Base Color Ingredient

For berries: Crush the berries utilizing a potato masher. Add 1/2 cup (120 ml) water and a couple of cups (450 g) berries. Then skip to step 3.

For rocks, charcoal, or different dry pigments: Grind 1⁄4 cup of the fabric all the way down to the best mud utilizing a mortar and pestle or related. Add 2 3/4 cups (660 ml) water and a couple of tablespoons gum arabic.

For nuts, roots, or leaves: Mix 2 cups (480 ml) water and 1 cup (120 ml) of plant materials within the pot as is.



Making ready walnuts to make ink.


2. Intensify the Color

Put the bottom color ingredient into a big, previous pot.

Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt.

Warmth to simply under boiling and cook dinner for at the very least 2 hours, stirring sometimes, till you might have an intense ink color. (Dip a strip of paper into the colored water to check the depth.) Take away from the warmth and let cool.




3. Filter the Color

You probably have giant items of plant matter, like roots and leaves, first take away this materials with a colander positioned over a bowl, with the bowl catching the colored liquid. For an additional degree of filtering, place the small finish of a funnel into the mouth of a glass container and match a espresso filter into the funnel. Pour your strained liquid by way of the funnel slowly. The espresso filter ought to take away smaller particles, making a cleaner ink. This step is especially necessary if you happen to plan to make use of the ink in a pen. To maintain a pen writing easily, you might want to use much less binder, which might gum up the nib, and filter out any little grains of plant matter. However, for painters, some texture within the ink could also be a optimistic—you’ll be able to at all times refilter it if it appears too grainy.




4. Make It Everlasting

Add gum arabic as a binder solely after your ink is its desired color. For every 2-ounce (60 ml) bottle of ink I normally use 10 drops of gum arabic. For those who’re utilizing a dry pigment as a base, you’ll want to make use of extra binder (normally 1 teaspoon per 2-ounce (60 ml) bottle). For those who plan to make use of your ink for a pen, attempt to restrict your self to just some drops of gum arabic for every small bottle. Add a number of drops of wintergreen oil, or 1 complete clove, to every bottle to maintain the ink from molding.



5. Bottle It

Any small glass jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid can work for storing the ink. Your ink will last more if you happen to sterilise the bottle first with some boiling water. If you wish to get fancy, yow will discover previous empty ink bottles on-line or save small glass jars and bottles out of your kitchen. It’s also possible to purchase empty 1-ounce (30 ml) bottles in bulk. Label the ink with a sticker, give it a reputation, and record the components, time, and site of the harvest. The labelling offers your ink which means and in addition helps as a reference for later ink experiment comparisons.




6. Take a look at It

A single drop of pure ink on paper will develop plenty of subtleties because it dries, usually intensifying because it evaporates and darkening towards the sides. One other degree of variation emerges as you check the ink utilizing varied instruments: ink droppers, pens, nibs, brushes, and even sticks or feathers change the impact of the ink—as do completely different paper shares.




7. Clear Up

Whereas pure ink tends to stain much less intensely than chemically produced ink, inkmaking can get messy and might stain garments, counter tops, and wood spoons, so having rags, cleaning soap, and paper towels close by will help preserve you and the non-inkmaking members of your family on pleasant phrases.




“The yellow glistens.
It glistens with varied yellows,
Citrons, oranges and greens
Flowering over the pores and skin.”
—Wallace Stevens, “Research of Two Pears”

My ex-stepmother, whom I name Tutu-Lisa, is a tree farmer in Hawaii. It was on her land that I realized methods to peel cinnamon and methods to crack macadamia nuts. Whereas there I learn a bit about fowl feathers as colouring for conventional Hawaiian costumes. She usually sends me natural turmeric roots she grows herself; I’ve been grating and boiling them into ink for the previous few years. Typically I substitute turmeric powder for the uncooked roots. Whereas neither are strictly talking city-foraged, the yellow from turmeric has change into a staple color of the Toronto Ink Firm. A few months in the past I used to be studying up on turmeric and realised that the color is far more soluble in alcohol than it’s in water. This impressed me to offer marker-making a attempt, as marker ink is alcohol primarily based, and I’ve at all times wished to make my very own markers. I like to make use of 98-percent rubbing alcohol from the pharmacy, but when you will get ahold of a really high-proof ethanol alcohol like Everclear, and even some sort of intense home made vodka, that may work simply as effectively. Right here, as traditional, you have to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid—this ink can actually make a multitude. The pigments in turmeric are inclined to fade over time. In India, the place turmeric is plentiful and its color is extremely valued, conventional dyers recognise that it is a dwelling yellow color and can merely re-dye garments which can be starting to fade with extra turmeric. In case your ink begins to fade, why not simply add one other layer?



Turmeric Alcohol Ink Recipe


  • 3 tablespoon turmeric powder, or 2–3-inch (5–7.5-cm) roots, peeled and grated
  • 13⁄4 cup (400 ml) isopropyl alcohol, 90 p.c or greater
  • Glass container with a tight-fitting lid
  • Spoon or stir stick
  • Espresso filter
  • Funnel
  • Giant bowl or tall bottle



1. Add the turmeric and alcohol to the glass container and stir. Cowl with the lid.

2. Let the combination sit in a single day, then shake vigorously.

3. Pour the liquid by way of a espresso filter over a big bowl, or alternatively, by way of a espresso filter–lined funnel right into a tall bottle. Then, pour again into the glass container. This ink will preserve just about eternally as a result of alcohol content material. It does stain, so watch out in making and utilizing.



This identical recipe may be made utilizing saffron. For a water-based ink, soak 1 tablespoon saffron in 2 cups (480 ml) water for a number of days till the water has turned a shiny yellow. Discard the saffron bits and pressure. For a barely thicker, shinier ink, you’ll be able to add a teaspoon shellac or gum arabic to the water as a binder.


Use: Alcohol-based inks work nice in a clean marker and with different alcohol-based inks. They don’t combine simply with water.

Recommended color pairings: Alcohol-based inks are inclined to repel water-based inks and refuse to combine. The results may be attention-grabbing however tough to work with, so I recommend making a spread of alcohol-based colors to pair together with your turmeric ink. Strive utilizing beets, iris petals, crimson peppers, or spinach leaves.

Different sources of yellow: Golden beets, saffron, goldenrod, annatto seeds, onion skins, tea, Osage orangewood chips, rhubarb roots, and butternut husks.

Notice: A teaspoon of alum (a sort of aluminum salt discovered within the pickling or spice aisle of the grocery retailer) added to your boiling pot will intensify most plant-based yellow colors.


Jason Logan
Picture credit score: Lauren Kolyn


About Jason Logan

Jason S. Logan is an internationally recognised designer, artistic director, creator and artist. His illustrations seem commonly within the New York Occasions, and his effective artwork has been exhibited in New York Metropolis, Los Angeles, Toronto and the Yukon. His work has been recognised by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, The Society of Publication Designers, the Centre for Social Innovation and the Canada Council for the Arts. His most up-to-date ebook, Make Ink: A Forager’s Information to Pure Inkmaking, was included in The Guardian’s record of finest books of 2018. His subsequent ebook, Find out how to Be a Color Wizard, will probably be revealed by MIT’s new youngsters’s division in 2023. He’s featured in The Color of Ink a documentary which premiered on the Toronto Worldwide Movie Pageant will probably be in broad launch this 12 months. You possibly can observe his ink explorations on his instagram and weekly publication.




The Color of Ink

Written and Directed by Brian D. Johnson

The Color of Ink uncovers the medium’s thriller and energy by way of the eyes of Jason Logan, a visionary Toronto inkmaker. Working with components foraged within the wild—weeds, berries, bark, flowers, rocks, rust—he makes ink from absolutely anything. Jason sends custom-made inks to an eclectic vary of artists world wide, from a New Yorker cartoonist to a Japanese calligrapher. Because the inks tackle a lifetime of their very own, his playful alchemy paints a narrative of color that reconnects us to the earth and returns us to a childlike sense of surprise. – The Nationwide Movie Board of Canada



Full characteristic movie solely obtainable in North America



Textual content Copyright © 2018 Jason Logan
Images Copyright © 2018 Lauren Kolyn



Additional Studying

Pigment Tales: Lemon Yellow

A Information to Inks

Color Mixing Impressed by Georgia O’Keffe’s Palette

Making Handmade Watercolours With Jackson’s Artist Pigments


Store Make Ink: A Forager’s Information to Pure Inkmaking on