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General Categories => Tools & Supplies => Topic started by: Briana on March 09, 2014, 11:27:52 PM

Title: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Briana on March 09, 2014, 11:27:52 PM
Has anyone made their own walnut ink? I collected several baskets of black walnuts before the end of the year and am finally ready to dive in and boil them down. I found these instructions online but would love to hear advice/tips from anyone who's done this before!

Instructions 1: http://www.marktablerart.com/5.html
Instructions 2: http://yougrowgirl.com/make-black-walnut-ink/
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Estefa on March 10, 2014, 04:48:37 AM
Aaah, the envy! I forgot to collect them at my in-laws garden last year. I'd love to try this. There are several threads about this on the Fountain Pen Network, not that I have read them all, but there are several people who tried a lot of stuff ;). There is a subforum called Creative Expressions, and in that another subforum called Inky Recipes.

Keep us updated!!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Brad franklin on March 10, 2014, 10:12:07 AM
Wow! I had know idea you could do such a thing. Please let us know your outcome.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on March 10, 2014, 05:24:01 PM
Walnut ink!  Very exciting.

 I am trying to make pomegranate ink from a recipe I found on the Fountain Pen Network.  I should know how well in works sometime in April.  Here is the recipe should you like to try.  Pomegranates are in season!

http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/230340-pomegranate-ink/
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Erica McPhee on March 10, 2014, 10:04:16 PM
Very cool! I love walnut ink but don't think I could make my own as I am allergic. I have to be careful with how much contact I get with it or my arm starts to itch.  :-[

I love the idea of pomegranate ink! The color is so pretty!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on March 11, 2014, 09:18:42 AM
While pomegranate is a beautiful color, the final ink should be black, if all goes according to plan.  Apparently pomegranate skin has a lot of tannin in it, so this will be an "iron gall" ink, without the galls.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Erica McPhee on March 11, 2014, 06:45:26 PM
I can't wait to see it! Amazing!  :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Briana on March 12, 2014, 03:41:06 PM
Pomegranate ink sounds great! I'll let everyone know how the walnut ink turns out. I imagine "messy" will  be one adjective I use.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: ewigginton on March 12, 2014, 05:06:23 PM
Just curious. Because walnut is brown, for me it's harder to read than black yet it's sold in large containers so obviously it must be used a lot. Why would you use the walnut over a Sumi, say?

Thanks,

Ellen
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Linda Y. on March 12, 2014, 06:40:26 PM
I think it's preference. I know Erica prefers walnut when she works, even for reproduction. I use walnut for that lovely earthy watercolor-ish look and for the fine hairlines it makes. Sumi (I use Moon Palace) is thicker and more difficult to work with, but makes the nicest, blackest black, which scans beautifully and (for me) better for reproduction work. Moon Palace was also recommended by Pat Blair for reproduction work. :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Erica McPhee on March 13, 2014, 02:46:43 PM
I use it less for the color (although sometimes I do like that effect) and more for the way it works. It has a wonderful viscosity and like Linda mentioned, I also like the shade it produces. I like the character it gives the lettering. If I need something truly black and white, I will do the threshold adjustment in photoshop which forces everything to either black or white which simply eliminates the shade.

I will resort to Sumi if I have to (or McCaffrey's) but nothing flows as well for me as the walnut ink.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: ewigginton on March 13, 2014, 04:01:00 PM
So you don't use walnut ink for envelopes, etc. then Erica? Mostly for reproduction?

Ellen
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Erica McPhee on March 13, 2014, 08:10:21 PM
It depends on what I am addressing. If it is with, say parchment envelopes, definitely would use it. Depends on the project really. But it is definitely my go-to ink for any reproduction work.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: YokePenCo on April 03, 2014, 10:48:06 PM
I'm way behind on topics and trying to catch up, too many nib holders to make.

Anyhow, I make my own walnut ink. You don't have to wait for them to turn black or brown. The green husks work just fine as you are extracting the tannin's which are present whether green or black. I typically wait until the husk cracks open, slightly brown, because the are easier to shell.


Very simple to do and works great. Some people add 5% denatured alcohol to the large storage container as it keeps it from molding. I have never had any of mine mold yet.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: tintenfuchs on April 04, 2014, 06:15:43 AM
I'm way behind on topics and trying to catch up, too many nib holders to make.

Anyhow, I make my own walnut ink. You don't have to wait for them to turn black or brown. The green husks work just fine as you are extracting the tannin's which are present whether green or black. I typically wait until the husk cracks open, slightly brown, because the are easier to shell.

  • Remove the husks and smash into smaller pieces with a hammer.
  • Place them in a pot with water , just enough water to cover the husks with about an inch of water and boil for around an hour (makes your house smell WONDERFUL!)
  • Once Boiled down the water will be a dark brown, strain through a panty hose into a glass jar
  • Decant into small container as you use it and I add a couple of drops of Gum Arabic to bind it

Very simple to do and works great. Some people add 5% denatured alcohol to the large storage container as it keeps it from molding. I have never had any of mine mold yet.

Sounds easy enough that even I could do it :D thanks!
A question though: Do you use just the smashed husks or do you put in the shell with the nut too?
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: YokePenCo on April 04, 2014, 06:20:22 AM
Just the husks, the shell and nut are for the squirrels  ;D
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Erica McPhee on April 04, 2014, 06:32:24 PM
Sounds interesting! I probably won't be trying it since I am allergic to nuts but I had no idea it was so easy! Thanks!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Briana on April 06, 2014, 02:48:16 PM
  • Remove the husks and smash into smaller pieces with a hammer.
  • Place them in a pot with water , just enough water to cover the husks with about an inch of water and boil for around an hour (makes your house smell WONDERFUL!)

All the instructions I've read said you have to boil them all day and include all parts of the walnut. Someone even suggested throwing rusty bolts and nails in to deepen the color. Does the time/"ingredients" vary based on how dark you want your ink, or does it just not really matter?
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: YokePenCo on April 06, 2014, 04:21:17 PM
What matters is the amount of water to husks. After an hour a majority of the water will have evaporated if you fill it just over the top of the husks and it is dark enough for me. If it isn't dark enough for your taste, just boil it a little more until more water evaporates. :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Briana on April 06, 2014, 04:35:06 PM
Thank you, Christopher!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Briana on April 15, 2014, 09:50:04 AM
I apparently collected enough walnuts for two batches, so I decided to try different suggested methods and see which I prefer :)

Batch 1 was this weekend-- I put all parts of the walnut in and slow-boiled for about 6 hours before letting it cool overnight. Everything was strained through cheesecloth into a bowl and then poured into a recycled Carlo Rossi jug! I haven't added any denatured alcohol/etc. to hold back mold yet because the mixture seems pretty thin.
(https://theflourishforum.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2FQdKnquCl.jpg&hash=bb8a766848639f4b1505298880c5797c)

For writing, I added several drops of gum arabic to my dinky dip. The ink is watery and dries slow to a nice shade of coffee brown! I've actually never used walnut ink before so I don't have anything to compare this too-- any comments are appreciated!
(https://theflourishforum.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2FpZoS6TNl.jpg&hash=cadc9262c0e37806df7001cc8d834209)(https://theflourishforum.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2FHXt16xql.jpg&hash=f1d07bc683e9bd2f31125b558c7b3e68)


For Batch 2, I'll quick-boil just the shells as suggested by Christopher. Looking forward to it already!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on April 15, 2014, 11:13:55 AM
For Batch 2, I'll quick-boil just the shells as suggested by Christopher. Looking forward to it already!
[/quote]

-- You mean just the husks?
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Estefa on April 15, 2014, 11:19:16 AM
I think it looks just right and how awesome!! How wonderful for you!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Linda Y. on April 15, 2014, 11:19:56 AM
That is SO COOL, Briana!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: YokePenCo on April 15, 2014, 11:45:44 AM
Great work! Fun isn't it? Gotta ask, is it just me or isn't the smell wonderful? ;D
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Briana on April 15, 2014, 12:05:59 PM
-- You mean just the husks?

Yes, I did mean the husks. Thank you, Linda and Estefa!

And Christopher-- my boyfriend said the smell reminded him of tea, and I agree!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Erica McPhee on April 15, 2014, 03:04:47 PM
Wow Briana! Wonderful! It looks GREAT! I may have to try that! Or maybe have my husband try it since I'm allergic ... but looks like fun!  :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: garyn on April 20, 2014, 12:08:08 AM
How acidic is walnut ink, both the homemade stuff as well as the commercial stuff.
The reason I ask is that I remember reading that the old iron gall ink was supposedly corrosive to the nibs.  And I would like to minimize deliberate exposure of my nibs to corrosive inks.  Well except for chrome plated or stainless steel nibs.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Erica McPhee on April 20, 2014, 08:24:26 PM
Gary, use Norton's walnut ink as my go to ink. I buy the huge bottle. And I don't find it corrosive at all. McCaffrey's on the other hand - the bottle I have now, will wear out a nib in one session.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: garyn on April 21, 2014, 01:59:22 AM
Thanks Erica.
Another ink for me to try.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on April 21, 2014, 06:46:35 AM
Quick question: does anyone have experience of making up ink from Vandyke crystals?
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on April 21, 2014, 09:52:38 AM
I have used the walnut ink crystals from Paper and Ink Arts.  Is this want you mean?
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on April 21, 2014, 10:37:30 AM
Without doubt.  They're cheap to the point of absurdity from wood finishers' suppliers, so obviously I have to try them, right?  Do you have any tips on an appropriate ratio of crystals to water, Ellen?
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on April 21, 2014, 02:56:47 PM
Andy,

I got that info from Paper and Ink Arts a few months ago, but it is buried in my email trash.  I am thinking about 1 tablespoon to 1 ounce water.  The person from whom I got the info was [email protected]
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on April 21, 2014, 04:54:14 PM
Thank you Ellen, very helpful and I'll report back.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on April 27, 2014, 09:40:27 AM
I was able to find the instructions on the walnut ink crystals from Paper and Ink Arts.  They recommend one tablespoon of crystals in a 2.25 ounce jar.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on April 27, 2014, 10:10:38 AM
Thanks again Ellen, I'm assuming that's a level tablespoon on the grounds that I can always add more.  Now to convert your ounces to UK fluid ounces ...  :)

If this turns out to be a success, I'll post a basic formula in US, UK and metric formats.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on April 27, 2014, 03:28:23 PM
Adjust to taste...
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on April 27, 2014, 06:40:14 PM
Well, quite.  I'm expecting a lot of leeway.

Straying slightly off topic and into the realms of the borderline bizarre, whilst researching this subject I found a reference to making a blue black ink from wasps' nests.  Sounds like an interesting project ... for somebody else.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: joi on May 05, 2014, 11:38:25 AM
adventures in walnut ink...
so i purchased some walnut ink crystals.  i bought the pre measured 2oz jar, it says just to fill with distilled water and wait 30 min and voila, walnut ink.
only prob was that it was a 6oz jar, with more than 2oz of crystals in it.  but i followed the directions and added water...and got mud.  ok, clearly i had too many crystals, so i kept adding distilled water and kept testing the consistency...i ended up with 38 ounces of liquid walnut ink.  looking back, i probably had about 5 oz of crystals, which is about 30 teaspoons.  yikes.  only AFTER doing this did i read that you use like 1 teaspoon to 1 oz of water?
so only partially my bad because i only ordered the 2 oz jar and received way more...and the jar was not labelled at all...so in the end i ended up with a hellava lot of ink for less than $5. 
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on May 05, 2014, 01:00:22 PM
I still haven't done this, but I have done some calculations based on a data sheet for Vandyke crystals.  The pertinent data are:

Relative density (water = 1): 1.30-1.40g/cm3
Water solubility: 97 g/l

So, the greatest strength you can get without supersaturating the solution will be achieved at a ratio of around 1:13 crystals to water by volume.  This agrees quite closely with the instructions given here (http://www.kalligraphie.ch/store/product_info.php/info/p1388_Walnut-Ink-granules-100gr.html), assuming that you're aiming for something a little short of full strength.  My plan is to try 1g to 15ml in the first place, and then "adjust to taste" as recommended by Blotbot.  :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on May 05, 2014, 01:08:59 PM
Joi--

That is exactly what I did too!  I probably should have said something in my earlier posts but I was too embarrassed.  I did email PIA about this and thats when they told me it was one tablespoon to about 2 oz water. I now have a jar of very thick ink that I dilute when I need some.  PIA should really change the desciption of the larger jars.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: joi on May 05, 2014, 01:32:06 PM
you lost me at 1.3-1.4/cm3...
me + math = total fail...hence the gallon of walnut ink :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: joi on May 05, 2014, 01:35:43 PM
blotbot - for real?!  seriously, PIA MUST change how they describe this then, because we cannot be the only ones!  i got this because i am traveling at the end of the week and thought the crystals would be TSA friendly. that way, i have the correct amount of crystals, and just add water when i get to the hotel, and voila, a small jar of walnut ink to use for the week and then toss it.  omg good thing i decided to make it at home...i would have had to pour all that down the drain and waste it all.  no where on PIA site does it say to scoop out a teaspoon and add 2oz of water. 
live and learn...at least now we know...and hopefully others will read this and not make the same mistake!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on May 05, 2014, 02:24:57 PM
The gallon of ink thing is what I'm trying to avoid, because there's nothing to put it in.  ;)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: RandalC on May 05, 2014, 06:40:14 PM
Over on FPN, fibredrunk has a few threads about ink-making and has made walnut ink. She is a chatty sort and responds to messages. Might want to ask her for tips and lessons learned.

Enjoy,
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on May 09, 2014, 06:56:14 PM
I finally got around to making up a trial sample from Vandyke crystals today, and won't be experimenting any further because the resulting ink was just exactly what I'd been hoping for.  These proportions make an ink which has some body, flows freely, shades prettily and keeps a tight hairline:

1g Vandyke crystals : 15ml water

That's about half a 35mm film canister's worth, by the way, which is quite convenient if you have some lying around.  The price works out as about £5 a gallon if you shop at Amazon.  :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Moya on May 10, 2014, 12:07:51 AM
I love the crystals - I love the resulting ink, and I also love how easy they are to travel with! I often take a dinky dip full of crystals when I'm flying, and borrow a shot glass or cup to mix it up in at my destination; and then toss it when I leave.  I bought a medium jar from PiA and I think it will last me for years :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Erica McPhee on May 10, 2014, 01:28:19 AM
Well this is really good to know since I spend a small fortune on the huge bottles on Norton's walnut ink!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: garyn on May 12, 2014, 12:47:08 AM
How dark should Walnut ink be?
I picked up a small bottle of Daniel Smith's walnut ink at FLAX in San Francisco (to help support the local stores).  When I tested it, the ink line was not as dark as the writing sample that Briana showed.  In fact I was rather disappointed at how light the brown ink looked on paper.  I was hoping for a medium density, rather than the light/faded brown that I got.
Maybe I need to get a bottle of Norton's walnut ink.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Moya on May 12, 2014, 01:04:44 AM
Hi Gary, here is a close up of some walnut ink from crystals on the page:  http://worthwhilethings.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/img_0554.jpg 

These are the crystals from PIA.  You can make the mixture darker or lighter just by putting more or fewer crystals in.  It does shade a little bit, but I actually really like that effect - ymmv :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: garyn on May 12, 2014, 03:20:41 AM
Mora, that is what I wanted my brown to look like.  Nice and dark.
Looks like I may have to try the Norton's ink and/or the walnut ink crystals.

I wonder if I can evaporate some of the water out of my walnut ink to make it darker.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Moya on May 12, 2014, 03:50:02 AM
I'd like to try the Norton's one day, but the crystals are so much cheaper and give such a lovely result that it's not high on my priorities list.  I definitely recommend them.

Try leaving the lid off for a few days and see how you go?
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Estefa on May 12, 2014, 03:56:01 AM
You can definitely leave it open, it will get darker soon! I'd put some sort of very thin tissue on top so that you don't get dust inside the jar.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: garyn on June 11, 2014, 06:39:00 PM
From the acid nib damaging point of view, how are the crystals vs. Norton Walnut ink?
I would prefer to use the least damaging ink.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Moya on June 11, 2014, 08:18:50 PM
I've never noticed any nib damage from using walnut ink crystals (unlike some of my sumi, which eats them in days) - but I have no experience with the bottled.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Linda Y. on June 11, 2014, 08:37:30 PM
I've been using only bottled walnut ink and no noticeable damage whatsoever.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: tintenfuchs on September 28, 2014, 05:35:52 AM
Sooo ... I made my first batch of walnut ink today (Christopher's recipe from this thread, since it seemed so easy) and here's what I learned, maybe it's of help to some of you:

Make lots: I only had 4 or 5 husks and that's definitely not enough. It's supposed to cook for an hour at least, and if you have only a few husks, the amount of water you put in the pot evaporates very quickly. Next time I'll definitely put in more husks and therefore more water, so that there's enough left even if half of it evaporates. I had to put in more water several times, which isn't really the point I think. The logical conclusion is that my ink is very light. I'll leave it open for a while and see if it darkens.

It does write very smoothly though. Not *quite* as well as the one I bought, but my hand slipped when pouring in the gum arabic, so there's probably too much in there.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: SueL on September 28, 2014, 10:39:02 AM
I'd love to see a writing sample of your home brewed walnut ink, Natascha.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: tintenfuchs on September 29, 2014, 03:00:10 AM
I'm whipping up another batch right now, this time I let it cook for longer, stew overnight, now it's cooking again. I'll post once that is done, I'm trying to get a darker color :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Briana on September 29, 2014, 03:27:27 PM
Awesome, Natascha! I still have a basket of walnuts from last year (oops!) to try and cook. I should do it soon!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: tintenfuchs on September 30, 2014, 02:26:48 AM
Okaay, so here's my final review of this process.

For me, cooking the ink for longer and letting the husks soak overnight didn't make any difference to just letting it cook for a hour. The ink is thicker, yes, but funnily enough it's not darker. It's also not substantially different to write with.
Compared to the walnut ink from kalligraphie.ch I bought, mine is lighter in colour. The main difference is that it is oilier, kind of like iron gall ink. It also covers the nib similar to IG. This leads to wonderful hairlines (thinner than with the ink I bought).

To sum up the good and bad things:

++ Cheap!!
+ Easy
+ Collecting the husks was a fun activity for the kids
++ Hairlines!!

- Not as rich in colour as expected

Finally, a picture of the short cooking time batch, the long cooking time -> overnight soaking -> long cooking batch and the one I purchased:
(https://theflourishforum.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fphotos-c.ak.instagram.com%2Fhphotos-ak-xpf1%2F1922495_1470526043235082_82008909_n.jpg&hash=b86709bdb2c79e2a887fc4b89d943447)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Estefa on October 02, 2014, 03:31:07 AM
Hi Natascha, I love your ink!! I'll try to collect some husks to in the kindergarten garden, before they put them all away ;D.

I think the reason why your ink is lighter is that the walnut ink from kalligraphie.com is mixed with Bister (it says so on the label – 'Bister-Nusstinte'). Bister apparently is a traditional (cheap) brown ink made of water and Holzruß (I found grime or carbon black in the dictionary). They used to scrape this out of the oven and mix it with water and a binder (for example gum arabic) – sort of a poor people's ink who couldn't afford to go to the apothecary to buy iron gall ink. Also I guess it's darker than walnut ink. The thing about Bister is somewhere explained on the kalligraphie.com site ;).

I was also wondering about this because most opf the samples I see on the internet when people write with walnut ink look much lighter than my ink …
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on October 02, 2014, 09:02:37 AM
Oh, that's interesting.  My ink comes out a little lighter than yours, Stefanie, but darker than Natascha's.  I can certainly make it lighter, but the solution is nearly saturated as it is so probably no darker.  Now I'm tempted to start playing around with lampblack.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: schin on October 02, 2014, 12:38:48 PM
It looks great! Has anyone tried mixing walnut ink with sumi or iron gall? I have been dipping twice in sumi and walnut to get the lovely dark-black-brown ink, but such a pain. Mixing it both in the bottle weirds out the consistency though.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: SueL on October 02, 2014, 09:28:40 PM
Schin, that's interesting. Wouldn't the black sumi overpower the brown walnut? Do you dip in sumi or walnut first?
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Faeleia on October 03, 2014, 05:23:21 AM
I'm gonna try! I'm a bit scared to use gall since I want to prolong my nibs, but maybe adding walnut ink and water will dilute and hopefully ease the acidic component a little..
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: tintenfuchs on October 12, 2014, 03:13:47 AM
Update: The ink smells so bad. I opened the bottle again after two weeks or so and ... oh YUK, PUTRID  :'(
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on October 12, 2014, 06:22:11 AM
Sorry to hear that, Natascha - do you think some sort of nasty organism has taken up residence?  Perhaps a few drops of alcohol might be in order next time.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on October 12, 2014, 10:24:14 AM
Update: The ink smells so bad. I opened the bottle again after two weeks or so and ... oh YUK, PUTRID  :'(

Thank you for the warning!  I just added a bit of tea tree oil to the batch I made this week.  I boiled the bejeevers out of it so no bugs yet, but I imagine they are coming.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: tintenfuchs on October 12, 2014, 12:55:12 PM
Sorry to hear that, Natascha - do you think some sort of nasty organism has taken up residence?  Perhaps a few drops of alcohol might be in order next time.
I actually added some alcohol :( I don't see any mold growing and it still writes fine but .... UGH. :-\
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on October 12, 2014, 02:26:04 PM
Your reference to the horrible smell rang bells with me, but I wanted to check the facts first.

Since the process is so similar to brewing beer, it sounds like it could be the same bacterial infection which causes "ropiness" ... obviously a low concentration of alcohol isn't going to do much good if that's the case, so ignore my earlier comment.  The only cure which definitely works is to sterilise everything you use after boiling up the brew - spoons, funnels, containers etc.  If you dilute it, used boiled water.  And so on and so forth - lots of hassle.  Adding alcohol will deter any fungal intruders from taking up residence, so it's still worth doing.

A ropey batch of beer was enough to put me off brewing permanently - it's truly disgusting - so I do sympathise if that is indeed what has happened.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Briana on October 19, 2014, 01:40:56 PM
Update: The ink smells so bad. I opened the bottle again after two weeks or so and ... oh YUK, PUTRID  :'(

I keep a small plastic container of walnut ink mixed with gum arabic for regular use and then just refill with the larger bottle when it gets low. It was always smells bad when I open the large bottle, but the smell goes away in the small one. Not sure why! Maybe it just needs to air out a little :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Briana on October 19, 2014, 01:41:50 PM
It looks great! Has anyone tried mixing walnut ink with sumi or iron gall? I have been dipping twice in sumi and walnut to get the lovely dark-black-brown ink, but such a pain. Mixing it both in the bottle weirds out the consistency though.

I tried mixing sumi into the ink but it never gave quite the effect I wanted. Gouache seems to do really well, though!
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: tintenfuchs on October 20, 2014, 04:00:42 AM
It looks great! Has anyone tried mixing walnut ink with sumi or iron gall? I have been dipping twice in sumi and walnut to get the lovely dark-black-brown ink, but such a pain. Mixing it both in the bottle weirds out the consistency though.

I tried mixing sumi into the ink but it never gave quite the effect I wanted. Gouache seems to do really well, though!
Mixing with Higgins works, too!
I hate Higgins by itself, but with the home-made walnut ink it's really nice.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: cherlotuspixel on October 21, 2014, 04:14:22 AM
Oh wow. This thread is really informative. It has never occurred to me to make my own walnut ink.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Inked botanicals on February 10, 2015, 04:56:54 PM
Hi everyone! I just wanted to show you my first walnut ink, made from some vandyke crystals I found on eBay. Since I have never use any kind of walnut ink, what do you think? Too dark? I use a bit less than 2grams in about 30 ml hot water. First attempt went wrong when I added some alcohol and tea tree oil as conservative. It somehow got too watery to write. So this one is just crystals and water. Do you think it will grew mold or anything?
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on February 10, 2015, 05:26:39 PM
Hi everyone! I just wanted to show you my first walnut ink, made from some vandyke crystals I found on eBay. Since I have never use any kind of walnut ink, what do you think? Too dark? I use a bit less than 2grams in about 30 ml hot water. First attempt went wrong when I added some alcohol and tea tree oil as conservative. It somehow got too watery to write. So this one is just crystals and water. Do you think it will grew mold or anything?

Looks good to me!  Depends on how dark you want it.  You can probably salvage the dilute ink by leaving the top of the jar for a few days.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: AndyT on February 10, 2015, 05:43:26 PM
Looks good to me too.  You could add some more crystals to darken it, but I'd be contented with that.  Alcohol will probably change the flow characteristics, so it makes sense that it was writing thin.  Leaving the lid off works wonders for some thin ink, but the tea tree oil bothers me a bit - on balance I'd get rid of that batch.

I've never had problems with mould growing in this ink (or any other), and my feeling is that a full jar with a tight fitting lid is likely the best safeguard against it.  If it does happen you might try adding a little salt or vinegar instead of the alcohol and oil: both are traditional ink preservatives in addition to working wonders for fish and chips.  :)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: cherlotuspixel on February 10, 2015, 06:03:12 PM
looks loads better than my own first mix. Though, I didn't know that walnut ink can grow molds. Eeep.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: SueL on February 10, 2015, 07:18:29 PM
Looks good to me. How dark or light walnut ink is really a personal choice. And I like how I can tailor my walnut ink to how I feel that day. I add distilled water to my walnut crystals and I don't get mould at all.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Karina on February 10, 2015, 11:21:46 PM
Looks good to me. How dark or light walnut ink is really a personal choice. And I like how I can tailor my walnut ink to how I feel that day. I add distilled water to my walnut crystals and I don't get mould at all.

hey sue! sorry for the daftness... but how do you get distilled water? a bottle of evian?
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: SueL on February 10, 2015, 11:56:31 PM
Karina, I use bottled water. :) Not necessarily Evian. :D
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: prasad on February 11, 2015, 01:47:24 AM
Looks good to me. How dark or light walnut ink is really a personal choice. And I like how I can tailor my walnut ink to how I feel that day. I add distilled water to my walnut crystals and I don't get mould at all.

hey sue! sorry for the daftness... but how do you get distilled water? a bottle of evian?

Pure distilled water is used in batteries (old type car batteries)
-Prasad
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Estefa on February 11, 2015, 01:52:55 AM
Evian is of course not distilled water … that is usually also free from any minerals. It is also used in steam irons. I can buy it cheaply in any drug store 😉.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Inked botanicals on February 11, 2015, 03:04:25 AM
Thank you for all the tips! The first batch I got rid of just because I didn't have another container at the moment, but I will remember for future times!

I used boiled water, but you can get distilled water easily here just searching for that water used in ironing, radiators, cars and that sort of things you dont want residuos from the water evaporation in them.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Blotbot on February 11, 2015, 09:31:03 AM
Looks good to me too.  You could add some more crystals to darken it, but I'd be contented with that.  Alcohol will probably change the flow characteristics, so it makes sense that it was writing thin.  Leaving the lid off works wonders for some thin ink, but the tea tree oil bothers me a bit - on balance I'd get rid of that batch.

I've never had problems with mould growing in this ink (or any other), and my feeling is that a full jar with a tight fitting lid is likely the best safeguard against it.  If it does happen you might try adding a little salt or vinegar instead of the alcohol and oil: both are traditional ink preservatives in addition to working wonders for fish and chips.  :)

I had a mold problem in a jar of McCaffrey's violet ink.  Removed the mold and more just grew.  A few drops of tea tree oils completely solved the problem and it was been over a year mold-free.   I don't think the quality of the ink  has been effected, but then I have never really liked it-- too watery.  There is a video from Joe Vitolo where the ink looks dark and velvety (like his lettering).  Really don't know how he did that.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: chiarag on February 11, 2015, 10:56:24 AM
Walnut ink is super and lasts a lot.
I use it for practicing calligraphy and also for some cards that should be formal (and as an alternative of black one)
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Milonguera on February 11, 2015, 04:53:17 PM
Inked botanicals, I've made walnut from both, crystals and black walnuts.  The ink from the crystals has never caused a moment's problem but the home made has shown signs of growing a bit of mold a couple of times, but that s'in the ink well I use all the time, not the jar I store it in.  In either case, I have added a few drops of alcohol, but to skim the top of the ink, not necessarily to mix in.  The nice thing about walnut ink is its forgiveness.  If it's too light in color just add more crystals.  Too dark?  Add more water.  Too thin?  Add a drop or two of gum arabic.  It's pretty much fool proof. 
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Inked botanicals on February 11, 2015, 05:34:49 PM
Thanks Debbie! I am very happy with the ink, love the shading. For the moment it seems all right, but I will remember your tips in casi something happens.
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Donna Marie on September 09, 2021, 08:40:21 PM
Well this is really good to know since I spend a small fortune on the huge bottles on Norton's walnut ink!

Hi Erica!  I'm so glad to be back here and I've been spending hours reading such informative posts.  We are in lockdown here in Auckland, so the perfect time for me to dust off my calligraphy supplies and get going again.  When I saw that you used Nortons Walnut Ink, I was of course curious to learn more (!) since I admire your work so much.  Not sure if you're aware of it or not but Nortons Walnut Ink actually isn't made from walnuts!  (Not that it matters as its working for you but thought you might be interested to know)  That'll explain it not being as acidic as other walnut inks.  This is from Nortons website "No, our ink is not made from walnuts. Our ink is walnut colored made from premium light fast pigments that will not fade over time. Our ink is also acid free.  Genuine walnut ink is highly acidic and actually eats the paper over time. The drawings of the Great Masters were made with genuine walnut ink which was black when it was freshly made over time it faded to the beautiful sepia tones that they are now. Our Walnut colored ink replicates these sepia tones. Our ink is water-based allowing you to achieve darker tones with layering techniques or lifting to lighten."
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Erica McPhee on September 10, 2021, 04:38:11 PM
Hi @Donna Marie ! So happy to see you back! Sorry about the lockdowns. But, glad to hear you are using the time to enjoy calligraphic things!

Yes - I did learn that about the Norton's Walnut Ink at some point! I don't know how they work their magic to make it so perfect and so consistent - but I'm a customer for life! I still continue to buy those giant bottles.  ;D
Title: Re: Making your own walnut ink?
Post by: Donna Marie on September 10, 2021, 06:37:08 PM

I'd love to try the Nortons one day.  I found some online here in NZ but I think it was $17.50 for just over 2 ounces ... in the meantime I found some Walnut Crystals that I had purchased years ago and finally got brave enough to reconstitute it!  It seems to be working fine and great for practice. I'm so pleased as the the new bottle of sumi ink I had bleeds badly on the practice sheets even after adding gum arabic. 

I just look at the lockdown as an opportunity to endulge in calligraphy, long walks, and pottering without feeling guilty about not doing other things :)
The first lockdown as a country was 6 weeks but the rewards were pretty much a year of living normally without covid in our communities so it was worth it even though it has inevitably returned.     

And now to print off some practice guidelines!  Thanks Erica!