Author Topic: "Ink" with vegetables?!  (Read 4902 times)

Offline Briana

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"Ink" with vegetables?!
« on: May 22, 2014, 11:35:46 PM »
A few nights ago at dinner while sautéing something called "Orach Magenta Magic" (a relative of spinach apparently) from our CSA box, I was hypnotized by the magenta liquid on my spoon. The orach leaves were a vivid magenta, and they sweated out an even prettier color when cooked. While eating I dabbed my finger on my plate and wiped it on an envelope to see what would happen. When it dried, a beautiful pink stain was left!

SO! I wondered if you could make a dye out of this or maybe even an ink/water color paint. I boiled the remaining leaves and drained off the liquid.


I'm not sure if there was something in the container I used (there probably was, but shhhh), but when I tested the hot liquid on Bristol paper it came out a muted rose gold color with shimmer!


I tested it again today, and the cooled liquid is a deeper rose color. It doesn't drip off the nib when dipped, but it doesn't create a consistent line either. It's very pretty as a layered water color wash though!


Here's a good shot of the shimmer, probably from an iridescent gouache still lingering in the container. It's a nice effect! You can also see the progression from the initial magenta, the hot muted color, and the cooled color.


Anyways, thought I'd share! It's amazing what supplies we have all around us :)
Briana, aka Pickles 'N Vodka-- landscape designer, aspiring calligrapher, top-notch goofball
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Offline Moya

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Re: "Ink" with vegetables?!
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2014, 12:26:00 AM »
Gosh, wow!  What an amazing effect!

Are you worried about it eventually growing mould, maybe, or fading?  Could you add a preservative somehow?

Offline Estefa

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Re: "Ink" with vegetables?!
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2014, 01:45:45 AM »
I think it will grow mold (in the jar, but not on the paper 😉). I think it looks ever so pretty!! My guess is that it will also fade eventually, because most veggie dyes aren't lightfast. I read on a German site recently how to make "ink" from a variety of vegetables and fruits (basically they cooked the stuff like you did, and filtered it), Briana! But they recommended to keep it in the fridge and use it up in two to three weeks. And added that usually they fade pretty quickly when exposed to direct light …

Maybe you could make it behave better for writing by adding our favorite secret ingredient, gum arabicum?

Your walnut ink looks gorgeous!! (Is I the one you did from the whole nuts, or the one from the husks?)
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Offline Sherry Lu

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Re: "Ink" with vegetables?!
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2014, 01:47:39 AM »
That's such a pretty shade of pink! :O:O I love it!!!

Offline tintenfuchs

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Re: "Ink" with vegetables?!
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2014, 05:31:52 AM »
Oh wow, I love it. Beautiful colors!
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Offline AndyT

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Re: "Ink" with vegetables?!
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2014, 06:13:38 AM »
Love the shading around the edges.  :)

I did a bit of research into anthotype photography last year: using plant matter to make a light sensitive emulsion.  Spinach is known to be one of the better plants to try (as is pomegranate, incidentally) because it's highly photosensitive, but the prints fade quickly ... which is part of the attraction in a funny sort of way.


Offline Blotbot

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Re: "Ink" with vegetables?!
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2014, 07:04:52 AM »
There is a free Kindle book "Vegetable Dyes Being a Book of Recipes and Other Information Useful to the Dyer" that has a lot of info on mordants and such.  Maybe it would tell you how o make it permanent.
Theymention tumeric and annatto can be used to dye cotton without a mordant.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 07:09:16 AM by Blotbot »

Offline Briana

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Re: "Ink" with vegetables?!
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2014, 10:47:07 AM »
Are you worried about it eventually growing mould, maybe, or fading?  Could you add a preservative somehow?
I am a little worried, and based on the other comments here I should use this stuff up quick! I wondered about adding alcohol like I did with the walnut ink, but if it fades quickly maybe it isn't worth it.

I think it will grow mold (in the jar, but not on the paper 😉). I think it looks ever so pretty!! My guess is that it will also fade eventually, because most veggie dyes aren't lightfast. I read on a German site recently how to make "ink" from a variety of vegetables and fruits (basically they cooked the stuff like you did, and filtered it), Briana! But they recommended to keep it in the fridge and use it up in two to three weeks. And added that usually they fade pretty quickly when exposed to direct light …

Maybe you could make it behave better for writing by adding our favorite secret ingredient, gum arabicum?

Your walnut ink looks gorgeous!! (Is I the one you did from the whole nuts, or the one from the husks?)
Thank you for the insight, Estefa! I've never used a vegetable dye, but I did tie-dye shirts with strawberries back in my Girl Scout days :) We would soak the shirts in vinegar to set the dye before washing. Maybe this spinach dye could be used on cloth? The walnut ink in the pictures is the one I made from boiling the whole nut/husk/some bits of bugs. I still need to make the other batch! Maybe I'll do that this weekend :)

I did a bit of research into anthotype photography last year: using plant matter to make a light sensitive emulsion.  Spinach is known to be one of the better plants to try (as is pomegranate, incidentally) because it's highly photosensitive, but the prints fade quickly ... which is part of the attraction in a funny sort of way.
That is awesome! I'll read up on this. Thanks, Andy! I did a small project in college on ephemeral art-- sometimes it's the most intriguing! Without getting too poetic, I'll say that there are beautiful, artistic moments that come and go constantly and I think temporary art really tunes you in to that way of seeing the world. Thanks for being philosophical, spinach!

There is a free Kindle book "Vegetable Dyes Being a Book of Recipes and Other Information Useful to the Dyer" that has a lot of info on mordants and such.  Maybe it would tell you how o make it permanent.
Theymention tumeric and annatto can be used to dye cotton without a mordant.
I actually read about dying linen with tumeric recently! Clearly I need to get this kindle book. Thank you for the advice!

Thank you, everyone!
Briana, aka Pickles 'N Vodka-- landscape designer, aspiring calligrapher, top-notch goofball
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: "Ink" with vegetables?!
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2014, 04:02:51 PM »
Delightful post! Such a pretty color! Thanks for sharing Briana!  :)
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