Walnut Ink Test, CBAS Workshop

On Saturday, I attended my first Cincinnati Book Arts Society workshop exploring walnut ink. I’ve seen the group’s work in the downtown public library a few times over the years, met several members at book fairs/local events, but it took almost 15 years to join up. Since I’ve had a large plastic barrel of walnuts in the basement for four years, I figured I should go see how other people process their inks.

Handed a selection of papers and misc tools, I was set loose, but mostly just used my own sketchbook to scribble and scrape out some ink. My tools included a Q-tip and a wooden skewer, which actually holds enough of the ink for a fairly impressive and continuous line, as you can see from the doodle above. I only dipped a couple of times. The hair, dots, and body shading are done with a Q-tip. By the time I got my hands on a dip pen, I turned my attention to my neighbor, Jim, who gave me an excellent quick lesson in calligraphy. His is beautiful, but mine is, as ever, inconsistent and bit crooked. At least I know how to hold the pen now. 😀

Apparently you can pour ink into a dish to evaporate, it’ll leave you crystals, and you can then reconstitute those with water:

The tones of the ink range from warm, deep brown to cool black, depending on additives and nuts and boil/evaporation time. I’ll probably post later, once I’ve cracked open my 2010 vintage barrel of rotting walnuts, and give you an undoubtedly messy visual guide to my misadventures with homemade inks.

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