"Fingers are an incredibly calibrated tool
for understanding our environment....
Stained hands are the reward and mark
of a color pioneer."
Wouldn't you just automatically fall in love with the person who wrote that? I did. A virtual ardor.
After I read this article on Jason Logan, artist, forager, father, ink maker, I had to know more. So I ordered his book, Make Ink, posthaste. Not only was I not disappointed, I was inspired! Swoon.
The book is gorgeous. The kind of paper you want to stroke and caress; the photos are large, provocative and beautifully shot. Even the cover of the book begs me to pet it. It was a good read even if I had decided that the recipes were beyond me. But of course I didn't, I gave it a go. Of course.
Because part of Logans "conversion" to natural ink making was due to the realization that his illustration supplies were potentially toxic for his children, his ingredients are often found in the kitchen. I did hit the art store for gum arabic (a binder to paper):
and the pharmacy for rubbing alcohol (90%).
My husband believes I am a trash collector....I prefer the title "forager." This skill comes in handy for ink making. I assembled my acorn caps, tea leaves, turmeric, copper bits, rusty nails...see? what fun!
And what my spouse lacks in imagination he more than makes up for in patience as even though most of this magic is safe to conduct in the kitchen, it doesn't always smell as delightful as one could hope...and it does seem to take over any flat surface. But I heard no complaints.
Boil and bubble, toil and trouble... Logan says (on p. 24) that "ink making is easiest when you are patient and remain open to everything." (describes me, right?) And (p. 45) "If the process seems slow and moves only a drip at a time, you are doing your job right." Gotta love it.
All in. I'll spare you the details but it was everything he predicted ...and more.
(forgive my camera shadows...long story)
As he suggests, I became a "citizen-scientist" and recorded my progress hour by hour. Above strips are from acorn caps and iron (a silver grey brown, light) top, and the bottom strips are from darjeeling tea (a warm, soft brown).
Tumeric became an alcohol ink as opposed to a water based ink. I know I will love using this one.
And a bundle of hibiscus flower brought back from Mexico (sold as tea) became a deep alizarin crimson color.
I'm hooked. On the porch I have a jar of copper becoming a blue ink and from the freezer I'm tempted to get out the bags of marigold flowers I have foraged and see what they offer.
As usual I have my cart before the horse as I have no idea how or where to use these colors. Some may be fugitive or there may be fixatives needed. I don't really use ink in drawing but I can paint with them (see his live painting demo here) as he did for the NY Times.
You may imagine this artist/father as living on a secluded farm growing all his natural his ingredients; the surprise is that Logan forages in the city where he lives in Canada. Drywall, weeds, cigarettes, and even peeling paint get gathered and processed in his goal of color exploration. It makes me want to order beakers and test tubes and sweet little ink jars. Sigh.
I could order these inks from Logans website or have him make me a custom blend as others do. But I really enjoy the making and experimenting part of the equation and, as discussed in this article about his work, there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing where the product came from and what is in it.
Now to finding out how I will use these beautiful colors...
p.s. - Hoping that however you celebrated Thanksgiving you were able to take time to be grateful for what is important in your life. I am brimming over with thanks for each of you who read and respond to my weekly passion of writing on the artistic pleasures of life. I have gained much from your sharing.