Wild Inks & Paints: outline & progress

This post is for the backers of my book Wild Inks & Paints to be able to preview the contents and keep track of my progress. (If you’re seeing this but missed the campaign, don’t worry, the book will be available after completion.)


πŸ”Ž Still researching/testing

πŸ–‹ Write-up still needs work

πŸ– Needs images

Crossed out: all done!


Intro πŸ–‹


  • Equipment πŸ–‹πŸ–
  • Safety πŸ”ŽπŸ–‹πŸ–
  • Definitions: dye/ink vs. pigment/paint, binder vs. medium


  • Gum
  • Starch πŸ–
  • Milk πŸ–
  • Egg glair πŸ–‹
  • Egg tempera πŸ–‹

Assistants & modifiers:

  • Metal salts: alum, iron salt, copper salt πŸ–‹πŸ–
  • Acids πŸ–‹
  • Alkalis
  • Other: sugar, preservatives πŸ–‹

Part 1: Plant Colours

  • Foraging ethics
  • Harvesting advice and storage methods
  • Phytochemicals: botanical colour compounds, their properties, how to best extract and work with each category
  • Extracting dyes: flower (cold/hot), fruit and bark methods
  • Generic recipe to turn a dye into an ink
  • Preserving colours: wet (ink form)πŸ–‹, dry (clothletsπŸ–, inspissationπŸ–‹πŸ–), precipitated πŸ–‹πŸ–(alum and chalk lakes, notes on other methods)

Dye plants:

(No breaks for seasons, instead arrange them in the order in which they appearβ€”we get a rolling visual palette of the seasonsβ€”and break for pantry stuff)

  1. Daffodil [last swatch]
  2. Gorse
  3. Grape hyacinth
  4. Mahonia berry
  5. Yarrow πŸ–‹πŸ–
  6. Pot marigold
  7. Bramble tops
  8. Poppy
  9. Carnation
  10. Camomile (Dyer’s and Roman) πŸ–‹πŸ–
  11. St John’s Wort πŸ”ŽπŸ–‹πŸ–
  12. Tansy
  13. Mullein
  14. Mulberry πŸ–‹
  15. Coreopsis
  16. Lady’s bedstraw
  17. Heather
  18. Knopper gall
  19. Damson πŸ”ŽπŸ–‹
  20. Goldenrod πŸ”ŽπŸ–‹πŸ–
  21. Elderberry πŸ–‹
  22. Buckthorn πŸ”ŽπŸ–‹
  23. Blackberry πŸ”ŽπŸ–‹πŸ–
  24. Pokeberry
  25. Chokeberry
  26. Privet πŸ”ŽπŸ–‹
  27. Shaggy ink cap
  28. Horse chestnut πŸ–‹
  29. Hawthorn berry πŸ–‹
  30. Walnut
  31. Acorn top πŸ–‹πŸ–
  32. Oak marbleΒ  πŸ–‹πŸ–
  33. Sloe
  34. Alder cone
  35. Pine cone
  36. Cedar cone
  37. Ivy berry
  38. Avocado (now we’re in pantry territory, order TBD)
  39. Pomegranate skin (and flowers)
  40. Sumac?
  41. Turmeric
  42. Black grape
  43. Onion skin
  44. Saffron
  45. Sage
  46. Hibiscus

Part 2: Pigments

  • Ochres: Types, finding, washing
  • Carbon blacks: Making lamp black, making charcoal black, historical recipes
  • Calcite whites: from chalk, seashells, eggshells

Part 3: Tools & Media


Quill pen: Hebraic, Arabic and Western methods of making

Bamboo pen


Paint pans


  • Making watercolour πŸ–‹πŸ–
  • Making gouache πŸ–‹πŸ–
  • Notes/recipes for media I don’t use and can’t judge properly: oil paint πŸ–‹πŸ–, printmaking ink (eg for linocut) πŸ–‹πŸ–, pastel πŸ”ŽπŸ–‹πŸ–
  • Wheat paste πŸ–
  • Impasto medium πŸ–
  • White dough πŸ–


  • About art paper, issues to plan for πŸ–‹
  • Dyeing paper (after preparing with alum, milk or other) πŸ–‹πŸ–
  • Using reactivity to create patterned paper: iron solution over gall, alkali over yellow, acid as discharge agent, pre-drawing with milk or alum coating before dyeing, “ageing” paper πŸ–‹πŸ–
  • Sizing/coating paper: starch, rice water, wheat paste, muqahhar recipes πŸ–‹πŸ–


(can be separated if there’s a lot of material)

  • Cleaning recipes
  • Invisible inks
  • A methodology for testing new plants

Sourcing materials


Endnotes (might not need them)


A penny for your thoughts...