September 14, 2013

A new adventure ~ making walnut ink

~Channeling my inner medieval scribe~

Raw walnuts in a 5 pound bucket
On our property we have a Black Walnut tree that drops walnuts each year at this time.  I decided this was the year to harvest them and make my own Walnut Ink to use in my art.  After much internet research, I came up with a recipe and started the progress.

My cooking set up in the garage

Historically, walnut ink was made and used since 1650.  Young scribes would learn to make their own ink.  It has also been used as a dye for fabric and a stain for wood.
After 4 hours of simmering

Sampling the color after 4 hours

Here's the basic recipe.  It is the green outer hull around the walnuts that you use to make the die/ink.  I left the bucket of them in the garage for a week, giving the walnuts a chance to brown up a bit.  After that I pounded them with a stick to loosen the hulls off the nuts.  Working with gloves on, I peeled the outer shells off and threw the inner shelled walnut on my compost pile for the squirrels.  After putting the hulls in the cook pot, I covered them with plain water and brought it to a boil and then simmered it for four hours.  Over night I turned off the burner and continued simmering for about another 3 hours the next day.  I then strained and filtered the liquid through cheese cloth and added a bit of denatured alcohol to prevent mold growth in the future.

Here's my final product! 
I will use it with dip pens to scribe as in my sample above.  And besides just brushing it on, I can use it in a spray bottle for art backgrounds.  Stay tuned for some samples in the future.


  1. Oh wow, that is awesome. Wish I had a walnut tree :-). Thanks so much for your sweet comment regarding the doilies and gelli print.

  2. Wow! Making your own ink- I'm once again impressed. I think it is really cool and I just can't wait to see what you make with it.

  3. A couple hang over the path to the chicken coop. I've started wondering if I should be wearing a hardhat when I let the chickens out in the morning.Online Plant Nursery


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