Brewing up some Buttercup Ink for Jo Brown

Making inks for Jo is never dull... (use Hulls)

jo brown, illustrator. Hayloft

Full disclosure, we are friends as well as fans of Bernoid and have a print or two of our own on the wall. 

Jo Brown, or ‘Noid as she is known to her friends has been drawing Devon wildflowers and the creatures that dwell within them for many years. Although she doesn’t like to talk about it, she is a hugely accomplished flora & fauna based Artist.

Jo makes her prints special with a signature on each one, together with its number in the series. 

When she created the Shaggy Inkcap print, she was having a little trouble making natural ink from the mushroom stable and asked us if we had any ideas…

We had previous experience using Black Walnut Hulls as ink before, so that was the jump off point…

Jo popped in to the Dartmoor Sheepskin Hayloft to sign her latest print run, Bumble Butter – which always go up as an exclusive on her site.

We already know which artwork must next grace the walls here, but, like you, we will need to move quickly as Bernoid tends to sell out of these limited pictures at a healthy pace 🙂

These latest prints get you close to bees and buttercups with finely depicted flower stamen and extremely detailed penned bees wings – the detail is all there but Bernoid seems to effortlessly avoid a purely botanical depiction and we somehow get to see the world with personality, just as Jo herself sees it.

Each bee has a character and I’m fascinated with the leaves, which might otherwise withdraw into the background were it not for Jo’s precision that seems to invite your attention. 

When making ink, it is usual to grind the hard kernels and mix them with water to make a solid very dark ink.

 (it would be imprecise to claim it is jet black, but very very near)

When making up specific inks for Jo we vary the amount used and don’t grind it down, just simmer for an hour or so. In the case of the Dandelion Ink we used some Frankincense Powder to tone down horrendous stench given off as it aged a little!

A rough guide to Natural Ink Brewing

  • 100g Black Walnut Husk
  • 20g Chosen main ingredient (e.g Buttercups)
  • 20g tree bark
  • 10g of lichen

Simmer for an hour on VERY low heat, don’t use the flame as shown in the photo above, that batch ended up in the hedge!

We normally end up doing three or more batches until we get one of the right consistency.

Remember to test on the paper you are going to use, as absorbency varies greatly dependant on paper weight & quality.

dip pen, natural ink

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