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.
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.
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 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.
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.
- Photo Credit Roine Magnusson/Photodisc/Getty Images
Can Soda Be Used to Water Plants?
Keeping plants watered according to their needs is an essential part of growing them. Gardeners can use bottled water, tap water and...
Why Do Indoor Plant Leaves Turn Yellow?
Indoor plants add natural beauty to any room of your home, as long as they receive proper care. When plants show signs...
Can You Use Henna Ink As Eyeliner?
Henna ink is derived from plant molecules that naturally bond with proteins found in skin and hair. The dye is characterized by...
Can Paint Thinner Be Used to Remove Ink?
Ink stains are difficult to remove, but paint thinner could be the solution. Before applying, it´s important to identify the type of...
How to Make Indian Ink
India ink, also called Indian or Chinese ink, is a simple mixture used for centuries by calligraphers and artists who needed a...
How to Make a Sword From a Leaf Spring
Blacksmiths in India, Asia and Africa often employ used or recovered steel with no way to know its composition. Leaving the steel...
How to Fertilize Plants with Seaweed Extract
Seaweed extract can be made into a rich, nutritious fertilizer for houseplants, vegetables and potted plants of all kinds. It contains trace...
How to Make Ink From Alugbati
Alugbati, known in the U.S. as Malabar spinach, is commonly grown for its soft, spinach-like leaves and shoots. Alugbati is of African...
How to Paint Rust Effects
While most people are trying to figure out how to get rid of rust, there are those who like the look of...
How to Make a Ballpen Ink Using Plants
When a pen runs out of ink, people tend to simply throw the used pen away and buy a new one. It...
Plants That Have Ink Properties
Before synthetic ink, ink was primarily made from plant dyes, which you can still make today. Different plants produce different dye and...