Leaf Extracts That Can Be Used As Ink

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Long before commercial methods of creating ink were invented, ink was made from natural products such as berries, bark and leaves. Leaf extracts have been used for centuries to create numerous colors that, when mixed with different substances, could be used as either dye, paint or ink. Different plants produced different colors in the spectrum, and "recipes" were handed down through the generations. Although making ink from leaf extracts is no longer necessary in most cultures, it can still be an interesting project.

Henna Extract

  • Fresh or packaged henna leaves can be ground and mixed with water to create a thick paste. To achieve color variations, the paste can then be mixed with other natural ingredients such as spices, oils, coffee, or even other plant leaves. Henna ink is typically used to create elaborate temporary tattoos in some cultures, such as Indian.

Indigoten Extract

  • The leaves from the indigo plant are also ground up into a fine powder, and can then be mixed with water to create a dark blue ink. This extract was commonly used in Asian culture to make both ink and paint; whereas other cultures, such as early American, mixed the leaf with oil for paint, or with alkaline solutions (such as urine) for cloth dye.

Sumac Extract

  • Sumac ink is made from a mixture of products that provide longevity to the ink, but the sumac leaves provide the color. The leaves are boiled down with water until the mixture is thick. Evergreen resin, a gum-like substance from the bark, can then be mixed with powdered, roasted ochre, a natural pigment made from various sources, such as bark. This mixture is roasted again to melt the resin and create a black powder. After cooling, it can be added to the boiled sumac leaves to form a blue-black liquid. Various shades of brown ink can also be obtained from this mixture.

Tannen Extract

  • Tea leaves have been used for centuries to make ink, due to the various shades that can be created: yellow, green, brown or black. The ink is made by grinding tea leaves and pouring boiling water over them to make tea. The tea can then be mixed with vinegar so that it will not fade, making a longer-lasting ink.

References

  • Photo Credit Roine Magnusson/Photodisc/Getty Images
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