Handmade with responsibly foraged and otherwise wasted ingredients, in glass ink bottles recovered from a Victorian landfill. Natural inks are often ephemeral and always in flux, unfolding their surprises over time and as they influence each other.
*Shake before use. For drawing and writing with dip pens and brushes, not suitable for fountain pens. Fruit and flower inks fade, and are best kept refrigerated and out of sunlight. Wild colours can not be fully tethered and this is part of their mystique.
30-40ml vintage corked bottle:
£50 for set of 3
£60 for set of 4
also available in recycled 35ml jars:
- Black-grey: Iron gall ink
Made by reacting iron with the gallotannic acids patiently extracted from oak galls– natural phenomena caused by the oak tree’s response to parasitic wasp larvae– this ink has been used for thousands of years. It is permanent and lightfast, darkening by oxidation to a bewitching black within days of being applied, and bonding to natural fibers. Once ubiquitous, many of our most precious documents, poems, and sketches owe their existence to this ink, and to the curious relationship between human ingenuity, the life cycle of a tiny wasp and the protective forces of a mighty tree.
*This ink will keep for a long time, and if it becomes mouldy, you can simply remove the mould- it actually improves the colour! It will write beautifully with a dip pen, but clog a fountain pen over time.
- Red-brown: Avocado Chocolate
- Red: Bloodstone
- Red-pink: Avocado Pink
You can get blood from a stone! A treasure from trash, these seductive colours appear like magic from avocado stones, skins, and soda ash (aka washing powder).
- Green: Copper (seafoam)
- Brown-green: Copper (earth)
- Blue-green: Copper (jewel)
- Light blue: Copper (creamy turquoise)
Copper, salt and vinegar react to produce alluring blues and greens. This is known as verdigris, a historical pigment and a capricious colour, in a constant dance with the ambient environment. The ink separates and can be shaken back together before use, or separated into a translucent green and a gorgeous, thick turquoise. Each of these colours were made with UK pennies from before 1992, when they were almost pure copper. Each of these inks were created from the same handful of coins, 5 and 6 with distilled vinegar, 7 with white wine vinegar, and 8 containing a luscious paste collected from batches of both).
*Toxic if ingested, so handle with care and dispose of responsibly.
- Yellow: Sunburst yellow
This long-life ink is made from the notoriously strong-staining spice, turmeric. Soluble in alcohol, it forms a golden liquid that brushes on bright yellow and develops a warm hue as it dries.
- Yellow: Lightbulb
- Yellow-brown: Golden Onion
Usually discarded as waste, onion skins contain quercetin, the plant pigment responsible for these luminous yellows. Alum has been added to enhance the colour.
- Light brown: Warm Tan
Black tea, an unassuming ingredient found in nearly every British household, contains tannins that act as a natural dye, and can be layered to create subtle golden shades through to deep browns.
- Pink-purple: Blackthorn Blush
- Blue: Sloe Shift
This is a living colour, shifting in response to light, time and pH levels. The pigment comes from anthocyanins, which means this hot pink cools to purple, blue, then finally a soft grey on acid-free paper, but remains pink on pH neutral surfaces. 13 is prepared with citrus to counteract the blueing, and can be brightened further with a simple squeeze of lemon over the ink, whether wet or dry.
- Blue-purple: Blue Shift
- Blue: Tidal Blue
These halochromic inks are made from gently steeped butterfly pea flowers. Full of anthocyanin pigments, they are exquisitely sensitive to pH, natural indicators that can display a spectrum from blue to red. Citric acid (lemon) has been added to 15, and the liquid is a glorious purple, turning blue on the paper; watching paint dry has never been so transfixing. Experiment with different surfaces, such as wood and untreated fibres, that will allow the purple to sing.