Getting out of a sticky situation.

 My Ink Journal - Colour Palette of Broadstairs

Ink foraging.


There have been lots of trials and errors in my ink making journey so far this month. Having more failures than success, but it is still a wonderful skill to learn and discover the colours hidden in natural and everyday objects I find in my foraging walks around Broadstairs.


Gum Arabic has been a curve ball to my ink recipes. I had purchased it in a powder form, adding that directly to my inks to help stabilise them. Only to discover when painting with my new ink it smelt very sweet and felt sticky to the touch. After drying my ink would result in dried sweets on paper.

White Onion Ink

Gum Arabic sweets.

Charcoal ink and white onion ink.

Here I learnt that I was using it wrong. 

Ink Equipment 

After discovering in my Ink Botanicals, by Babs Behan, book a recipe to make gum arabic powder into a solution by adding boiling water. This solution is then added to the ink.

Bingo there was my answer!

This recipe involves 1 part gum arabic to 3 parts boiling water. 

I weighed and mixed 10g gum arabic to 30g water to create a honey colour globby liquid. I Leaving this overnight with the understanding that it has a slow dissolving time.

Gum Arabic Powder Boiling Water

Before mixing 10 mins of stirring

Gum Arabic Solution

The following day with a fresh batch on red onion ink, I boiled this down to a thick liquid and added my gum arabic solution. Leaving it to cool. Once cooled I eagerly painted some on a sample of watercolor paper. It felt like an ink, and it didn’t smell sweet. It wasn't sticky to the touch either. 

Red Onion Ink

Testing the ink

Next up was to try the ink with a dip pen, drawing some lines and cross hatching the ink just dripped off the nib. It was still too runny to be used for dip ink, but I knew the making of my gum arabic solution I was on the right track. 

Consistent for painting

Not consistent for Dip Ink

Red turning to green

So my ink journey continues by experiment with the ratio of gum arabric to water, making different ink consistencies that can be used as a dip ink or printing ink.

The journey continues on April 12th...

Onion Ink with ink samples.

1 comment

  • Very interesting! I have some walnut ‘ink’ that I made eons ago, which does settle. It has alcohol in it so it’s not molded. This would help it stay even consistency? Being an illustrator, making ink sounds like so much fun! Thanks

    Barb Dipietro

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