The theory of home made natural inks

When I get myself organised, I am going to try making inks and watercolours out of natural dyestuffs.

But it does take some organisation.

This post is just the sort of thing that should inspire me, but actually makes the dithering worse. It shows all the beautiful colours you can make from Buckthorn, but you need to add various substances to change the acidity to get the range. This means several issues:

  • I need to get all the relevant substances lined up beforehand.
  • I need enough bottles and jars to store the results.
  • I need to be meticulous about record keeping. In the heat of the moment. Hmm.

All of that is much harder than cooking the dyestuff in the slow cooker, and then adding a couple of scarves.

Then I started to wonder where my nearest Buckthorn tree is. And would it be worth growing some? Then I remembered that sometimes the same name is used on both sides of the Atlantic for different trees. So I hit Google.

First I found Purging Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), which looks like the plant in the post. The Woodland Trust (who seem like a good source) say “Traditionally the fruits and bark were used to make a yellow dye.” This is the one Jenny Dean mentions, which is a good sign. But I don’t see anything about fastness.

The Woodland Trust also have an entry for Alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus), which says “A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves and bark. It is used in Russia and turns black when mixed with salts of iron. A green dye is obtained from the unripe fruit, and a blue or grey dye is obtained from the ripe berries.”

Well, I’ve got space, so I could try both. Then I started looking for a nice copyright free picture that I could put in this post. And I found that it is a big problem for homeowners in Minnesota. It is an invasive, fast grower, that has deep roots and harbours pests.

Oh, and there is the Sea Buckthorn, which has four times the amount of vitamin C in its berries than a lemon has, and I live by the sea…

OK, time to do something useful. Or at leat time to look at some more pretty colours.

About The Proof Angel

I am a freelance editor and proofreader, working with a wide range of clients from large companies to individuals. I can help you to communicate clearly by carrying out a final check, or by suggesting ideas get your message over. I also have a sideline in textiles, as The Rainbow Angel.
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