I am looking forward to exploring more with simple inks! The two inks that I decided to try for this week’s experiments were coffee and beets. I also wanted to try the black berries, however when I went to pick them, they had already passed in season. The reading said that the best ones for ink are the big fat juicy ones, and by the time I arrived at the wild blackberry bush they were all dried up. I picked some dye ones to experiment with but I haven’t had the chance to work with them yet.
Starting with coffee, I used some old coffee grounds that I found in the fridge. I use to be an avid coffee drinker but I am trying to cut my intake down so now I have a lot of coffee that I am not going to drink just laying around so this is a new and perfect way to repurpose all of my coffee grounds!
To make the ink, I boiled water and put it through my coffee strainer as if I was making a normal cup of coffee. I got this really great re-useable coffee strainer when I was in Japan last year. They also use them a lot in Costa Rica. It is basically cheesecloth on a metal hoop for a single cup serving.
Right with my first fresh cup of coffee I did one paintbrush color test to see what the coffee color ink looks like fresh. After that, I boiled down the coffee liquid until it became a dark brown. I then I let this condensed coffee evaporate on my radiator for a few days, layering it in thin layers at a time until it became glassy and dry.
I used this coffee mixture in a painting by reactivating it with water when I wanted to use it. I used this ink to dye fabric of an old sweater that I then used to collage on to my canvas. I also used it to paint directly on birch bark. I really like the shininess and texture of the coffee ink. It has a beautiful shine that really feels alive and has a great smell that is so invigorating when using it!
The other ink that I experimented with was beet. For beets I went to the grocery store and purchased a few…. If I was living on a farm and there were extra, that would be ideal…but that was not the case in this instance.
I was really excited to work with beets because 1: they are delicious and 2: I love their purple-magenta color.
To process the beets, I boiled them down as directed in the readings. I boiled and boiled them until they lost all of their color. I was curious of the color maturing process that they would go through so I made my first mark with the freshly cut beets to compare throughout the process. I then made a mark with the boiled down beet liquid. I added salt to this liquid and then let it also rest on my radiator for 5 days to condense the color. After 5 days the beet liquid grew white mold fuzz on the top of it. I did not have vinegar, as the reading suggested that could help with preservation, so this could be one factor as to why the while mold grew on top of it.
I still used the beet color ink with the mold. I just skimmed off the mold and proceeded to use it as normal. There was no foul odor to it and the color was still strong.
As the beet ink matured in this process, it went from more of a pink to a brown. I also used this ink to dye the fabric I used in the same painting I also used the coffee ink.
Comparing the colors, I notice that the beets do not have the same shine as the coffee ink and also that the coffee ink is much darker in color. Also after applying the ink to the fabrics, it seems that the coffee stayed more vibrate where as my beet color, when dried, faded substantially.