Magical Ink Making

Astros stave“Astros” – Icelandic runestave which protects from all staves

I came up with some recipes for magical inks and then got together with my friend to make a test batch to see if the method would work.  We started with the recipe for black ink as my other recipes had more expensive ingredients. I boiled Alder bark for about 5 hours to get a very dark brown. You’d need to boil it forever for the dye from the bark to turn black. Local natives used to use this simple dye to stain their fishing nets black so the fish couldn’t see them. Once we had a concentrated dye from the bark I added it to my smaller dye pot and my friend and I added gum arabic and myrrh resins along with crushed dried spiders and lampblack.

Magical Ink Making

Alder bark Adding the resins to the dye

You can make your own lampblack by collecting it from candle or oil lanterns or buy holding a spoon over a candle and scraping off the black residue (lampblack) that forms on the metal. This takes forever to accumulate enough lampblack for an ink — especially if you are making a large batch. If you’re only making enough for a small vial for yourself, then this method is viable.  One way to cheat is to purchase a high quality tube of black watercolour that is purely lampblack and gum arabic — two ingredients you’re going to need anyway. You still need other bases for the colour however (like the Alder bark) or you’ll just be writing with diluted watercolours and it’s not the same as an ink nor is it as strong. I would only recommend this cheat for a black ink though.

Straining the ink

Once the ink was blended and the writing tests showed the right consistency and darkness of colour, we allowed the ink to cool and then strained it through a very fine sieve (handcrafted inks can be pretty gritty). I had to add a little more alcohol at this point to thin it as the ink thickened when cooling. Then I poured the ink in pretty wide-mouthed bottles and had a bit of fun testing it out. And voilà, lovely handmade magical ink!

Black Magical Ink

Author Sarah

Illustrator and weaver of words. Witch. Forest siren with talons, succubic tendencies, a love of otherworldly beauty, poisonous plants, wild places and dead things.

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Melissa says:

    I just made walnut husk ink, it’s a nice dark brown color. I hadn’t thought of adding resin to it though. I bet that makes it smell really nice. I’m fascinated by the idea of colored inks, I’m trying to figure out what might work for a permanent ink.

    • Pam says:

      I make pokeberry ink and it’s comes out a lovely reddish purple and is very permanent – be careful not to get it on your hands. I’ve gathered butterfly wings I found so I will be adding those to the ink also.

      Love using magical inks – great blog as usual!

  • Anathemum says:

    How wonderful! Making my own ink was one of the first recipes I ever tried. I’m glad you’ve had such great results!

  • saphira trilena says:

    Hi Sara, I translated the text of the Portuguese, I’m from Brazil and I apologize if it are not sure. I love your blog and whenever I visit.
    If I could visit you and there would be his student. Kisses and many blessings to you of Iemanjá.And of course I buy everything in your store … rsrsrsr

    Oi, Sara, eu traduzi este texto do português,sou do Brazil e peço desculpa se não ficar certo. Eu amo seu blog e o visito sempre.
    Se eu pudesse iria aí te visitar e ser sua aluna. Beijos e muitas benções de Iemanjá pra você.E claro compraria tudo na sua loja…rsrsrsr