Calligraphink: Making Natural Inks (Botanical Dyes- and Powder-based) | Joy Tay | Skillshare

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Calligraphink: Making Natural Inks (Botanical Dyes- and Powder-based)

teacher avatar Joy Tay, Maker

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

15 Lessons (40m)
    • 1. A Warm Welcome To Creating Natural Inks For Calligraphy

    • 2. Introduction To Making Natural Inks Using Dyes and Powders

    • 3. Tools & Materials For Making Natural Inks From Dyes

    • 4. Agent: Our Star Ingredient - Butterfly Blue Pea Flower

    • 5. A Note On Solubility Of Natural Ingredients

    • 6. Cleaning Your Tools

    • 7. What Happens When You Don't Use Preservatives For Inks

    • 8. Bath Stage: Colour Extraction (Butterfly Blue Pea)

    • 9. Combine Stage: Additives With Salt & Vinegar

    • 10. Making Gum Arabic Solution

    • 11. The Effect Of Adding Gum Arabic

    • 12. Combine Stage: Make Your Natural Ink Sparkle!

    • 13. Checking For Light-Fastness and Permanence of Ink

    • 14. Combine Stage: Creating Powder-Based Inks With Red Yeast Rice Powder

    • 15. Thank You! And Your Class Project

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About This Class

Create your own unique natural inks using dyes from botanicals. Calligraphers, if you are already creating customised stationery with your beautiful calligraphy, why not level it up a notch by creating your own natural inks? In this 40-min class, Joy will teach you how to transform foraged materials like flowers or botanical ingredients, into natural inks that you can further customise by adding special touches like incorporating illuminescent materials.

Creating natural inks not only enhance your relationship with the natural world around you, but also help you develop mindfulness and a greater appreciation of your own local flora and fauna unique to your neighborhoods.

Using a simple and clear A-B-C-D process of Agents-Bath-Combine-Design, you will be equipped with the basics of the ink-making process that you can utilise for turning plants into pigments on paper, which you can adapt to your own environments.

What You'll Learn

  • two types of agents (a) from the flower itself, requiring extraction) and (b) ready made natural botanical powders
  • how to prepare your materials safely¬†
  • the Agents-Bath-Combine-Design ink-making process
  • how to make your natural inks even more special by adding other components like mica for sparkle

Also included: A handout covering the steps of both the extraction-based method (from butterfy blue pea flower), and the dye-based methods (from red yeast rice powder) are provided for you to refer to as a complement to the videos.

What You'll Be Creating

  • Your own homemade natural ink from the botanicals found in your own backyard using the techniques learnt from this class.

Let's create natural inks with joy!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Joy Tay




Oh, hi there! I’m Joy Tay, your gal behind the joy-soaked fingers you see in all my classes. 


I’m here to help you to use art to evoke joy from our hands to our hearts, through creating art. Check out the mussel shell lettering video above where you can see how I teach classes.


Interested in creating lettering and calligraphy on ANY surface at all? You can download these FREE:

(A) 20-page Guide to Lettering & Calligraphy On ANY Material

(B) 21-page Curated List of Pens and Inks


Creating and making art has been a joy alignment tuner whenever I am out of balance.

I would love to share this powerful tool of making art with you.&n... See full profile

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1. A Warm Welcome To Creating Natural Inks For Calligraphy : I'm sure, yeah, I've been amazed at Nietzsche's bounty of colors. And if you like to infuse a little bit of that into your calligraphy work. This is the class for you. And this class, we are going to use natural dyes and powders to create your own calligraphy ink. High. You can call me joy. And I'm here to take you through this class where you're going to create your own calligraphy inks using natural dyes and powders. So here's how the class is going to go. First, I'm going to introduce to you two kinds of ink making. When something that has diabetes and the other one is powder based. And then I'm going to teach you how to prepare your agents and your components. Next, it's going to be the bath stage, I call it the spread. The color extraction happens. Next. Once you have your colors extracted, we are going to combine and then we're going to create our ink. I'm going to share with you some things to look out for when you're looking for the quality of a diabetes ink. I'm going to share with you another different method where we're going to use powder based die. Most of our videos are going to concentrate on the process itself. I've also provided for you handouts so that you can refer to them easily when you're going through the videos. Well, I can't wait to bring you into my studio where recreate the inks together but fast. Yes, a very handy primer on creating inks. 2. Introduction To Making Natural Inks Using Dyes and Powders : For this introduction, I'm going to be covering a few aspects when the components of what makes ink. Knowing the basics of cleaning and safety, especially when you are dealing with natural ingredients. Some common tools and equipment that you need, as well as the process of creating the inks. Now. So what makes up ink? You have these fabulous for, of course, you need the coloring agent. That's where the color of your incomes from uni, a carrier to carry the colouring agent. You also need something to put them all together, and that's your binder. Sometimes you want to make your ink a little Special, and that's your editors. These are some examples for your coloring agent, especially if you're working with natural materials, you can find them from plants, parts of plants like petals and leaves. Then this class, we're going to concentrate more on the carrier of water, right? But you can also use alcohol and I have a different video for that in another class. I did share that you might want to make your ink extra special. So you might want to change the color of your coloring, Egypt. And for that, you can use modifiers. You can also use moderns. This help your color to stay light fast. And because you're using natural materials, sometimes it invites malls in microbes and all those other stuff. So you probably also need a preservative to put everything together. You will need a binder. And there are two, if you're using natural materials, manage shellac, this comes from the resonance secretion of the lac, insect. But for this class we are going to be using gum arabic, also a natural source. This is a natural resin. And when it comes to working with your coloring agent, you do need to dance with your natural colors. And what do I mean by this? Let's say you want to go out and you're looking for a Winsor and Newton watercolor set. You buy it from one art store, and you buy from another art store. And as long as it's the same set, it's going to give you the same colors, not so with the coloring agents. So just get ready to be surprised. The other is to keep to a spirit of experimentation that in this particular video, I am sharing with you some plants and some plant-based powders that I can find in my country. You probably would want to look at what's available in your garden and in your kitchen. If you foraging for natural materials for your diabetes ink, remember, don't approve wild plants and if a gathering flowers don't be moved, everything from the same gun, It's enough lava is to generate seats for the next crop box. Certain kinds of trees do get harmed when you peel off their box. So it's best to take back that has already fallen on the ground. Same thing with lead, leave enough and don't strip any branches, be a carrier is something that can carry the coloring agent along. And in this particular class we are going to be using water. Note that it does matter. Sometimes been used hot water or salt water or seawater or rainwater. So there are different components in water, and sometimes even the acidity or how alkaline it is, will differ depending on the water that you use that can also have an effect on your color. So remember the spirit of experimentation then from binders, not only does it glue all your other components of ink, it also has a thickening effect and we are going to be using gum arabic. There are few reasons why you might want to use additives. We use moderns because this helps your color to sustain. Some dyes that you see are fugitive dies. For example, if you take the case of beet root, on the day that you meet the ink, it is going to be pink pet three days later. The dye is fugitive and it's going to be a different color. It's going to be slightly brown. So if you use moderns, it will help your colors to be sustained a lot longer, and that's the quality of being light fast. It can also help your color to be brighter or B of a greater intensity. You can also put modifiers. If you add this modifier, for example, vinegar is acidic, or baking soda, which is a bit more alkaline, you may shift the color of your coloring agent. I won't be using these for this particular class, but you can see another one of my classes on natural dyes, and you can see how modifiers actually changed the colors. And lastly, you can use preservative. Some people special alcohol, cloves, salt, vinegar, or wintergreen oil. Now, to be honest with you, For me personally, whenever I make something that is based on natural ingredients and make a very small amount. This is because I know of the effects of not putting preservatives. And even sometimes if you use preservative, especially natural preservative, it may not be as effective. So if I want to keep things natural, January, I tried to use up the ink. Asked. Whenever you're using natural ingredients is always a possibility of inviting bacteria and also microbes, things like that. I love natural things, but it does come with its price. So because of that, it's really important for you to sterilize this effect or sanitize the remove bacteria and microbes. If you know that you're keeping the ink for some time at preservatives. Now when it comes to getting tools and equipment, my mantra is keep it simple and just use what you have on hand that don't have any reservations about having to adapt and improvise on tools that you will need. If you're processing your coloring agents, you might need these materials, coffee filters, fine mesh c, And these to help to separate the natural materials from the die. Of course he also need a funnel. Now glass Muda. Remember what I said earlier on about improvising? I don't actually have a glass will not, but I do have a beer glass with a very thick base and that's what I use instead. You can also use a mortar and pestle and are all coffee grinder. Sometimes you do need to break down your natural materials into smaller pieces so that it's easier to work with. And make sure that these are going to be used only for English, not a dual purpose like food. You will also be needing a palette knife. In this particular video, you might probably see me using a scrap instead. And that's the spirit of improvising. You may also need a potato measure if you are collecting your diets from berries and you need to match the babies and the tools and equipment you may need. Use these containers only for making and not for food as well, are popped a lunch bowl and a golf container. Now, natural ingredients can stain, right? So please make sure you protect your hands using a rubber gloves and also protect your surface with plastic. You also need rags handy so that you can clean up any best that happens. And some mixing tools you can always use a spoon or glass rods. Now in this particular video, I never am using powders. I tend to measure out one gram. So you might need a weighing scale, but I think it's also okay if you use teaspoons. So remember this improvise and the spirit of experimentation. And it will also be because droppers measuring cups and spoons. And when you're creating your ink, you want to use it. You'll meet people for that too. You will also need labels to label your ink. So you can remember what you created. If you're going to be using your modifiers, you also need a pH tester. Now like to keep things simple. So for the process of creating inks, you just have to remember this very simple, a, b, c, d. Now what do they stand for? Figuring out what is a coloring agent? And you're going to be using flowers from a one-point, are going to be using leaves from another plant. And then what is extraction agent? Like? Remember I shared earlier that water, depending on your source, can actually have different effects on your coloring agent. Then you're going to go through B, you backstage. This is how you're going to extract your color. I also have a powder base class, so that is when we extracted colors are using a dye bath. I also have another process to share with you where the colouring agent is actually powered based. So fast you have to create a paste. You also need to combine the components. And for that you need binders and to make your special unique additives. Then once it is created, you've tested it, you love it. You get to design the day before you create your inks. I'm just going to show you about the tools and materials that you'll need. 4. Agent: Our Star Ingredient - Butterfly Blue Pea Flower: Let's get to it. 5. A Note On Solubility Of Natural Ingredients: So here is a segment about solubility, about the ability of our dice to be able to dissolve in water or any other solvent. So when I first got started with an actual dying, I really had to figure out like, what is it soluble in? Isn't really soluble in water. So when I first experiments was all connect route, I love Arkansas route and you just want to show you what it looks like. So I got this from my modern roles, herbs and you can see it. Publish deep red, publish the bread, and it's just such a beautiful color. And I have this color for my lip bombs. So I was trying to use this as a natural diet, but it really didn't turn out because it is not soluble at all in water. So this is our connect root. Yeah, so there's this deep red and this is soluble in oil. Yeah, so our connect root soybean oil, unfortunately, it is not soluble in water so I can't use it. So the reason why I'm sharing this with you is sometimes you, you know, you, you see a new botanical ingredient and UNSC, whether it is soluble in water, sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. And you just gotta experiment the one and really pthread, if the butterfly, blue pea flower, it's quite common in Singapore and it's quite a traditional food coloring. And it is soluble in water, as you can see here. And we'll create this together. So I tried dissolving it in glycerin. You can see the petals. So this year it's kinda like water, so I can tell that it's going to be soluble in water, but it is absolutely not soluble in oil. Unlike our our connect root. Yeah. So sometimes when you're working with your natural dye, you just have to experiment to see whether it is soluble in water or not. And if it's pigment, you might want to choose other ways of showing up the color using your natural day. So this one, you can see it's not soluble and coconut oil. Yeah. Suggests a note about solubility. I think it's really cool. Digits. Walk around or think about, or have ideas about Botanical ingredients that you can use to make your natural dye is just that, you know, not all can dissolve in water and not all ingredients are gonna give you a very nice dy r. In fact, I have here this red jacket. I really love it and have I a lot of it for my Howard trajectory, but I did try dying with it. The colors quite faint. So sometimes you just gotta do trial and error to see what really works for you. And bringing out a beautiful day. 6. Cleaning Your Tools: First things first. Because you're working with botanical ingredients, is very important that your surface and all your equipment that you're going to use to make your ink. You can dunk some of the items like because in boiling water for about 15 to 20 minutes, if not, at the very least, do sterilize them with rubbing alcohol. Let's start the cleaning of surface depth piece of paper napkin with rubbing alcohol. And make sure that you have in cleaning the surface. Because the botanical ingredients that we are making our inks with, they are living things. Or at least the world living things. And organic, There is a risk of getting microbes. It's all the more important to make sure that all our materials and equipment as sterilize and disinfect it. Let's do the same for the bottom of this class, which we are going to use to grind the pigments. Also wipe this blade or scraper with rubbing alcohol. But these measuring spoons, I've already boiled it in water for about 15 minutes since they're made of metal. 7. What Happens When You Don't Use Preservatives For Inks: I don't usually keep my natural inks for too long. Because if you don't put preservatives, this is what happens. Grows, right? It can already see the mold. I don't want to discuss you to match. Maybe you think, Oh, well, it'll be fine. If you had kept the bottle of your natural inks, then this wouldn't happen. These two bottles had been kept since the moment that natural inks we're finished. But you can still clearly see the moles. Therefore, this has been a public service announcement. Don't keep your natural English for too long unless you use a precipitate. Only make what you need. Make sure during the making process that you either disinfect or sterilize your ink making equipments. 9. Combine Stage: Additives With Salt & Vinegar: Once we extracted the color from the petals, we add vinegar and salt. These act as moderns. The set the colors, mix them well using your chopsticks and make sure that the salt and vinegar are dissolved. 10. Making Gum Arabic Solution: We're now going to make our gum arabic solution. It comes in this solid powder form. Or it can also come in a liquid form. If you had the impact of bomb, you have to first create the solution before we can use it in our ink. This is what gum arabic looks like in solid powder form. The recipe for gum arabic solution is roughly around two parts water, which are happier. One part of the gum arabic powder, it is not buy wheat, it is both volume. Now I'm going to put the gum arabic into my beaker, and it is approximately at the ten millimeter mark by volume. This will then add 20 millimeter of water. The save time. You can also create the gum arabic solution as you're creating your die, as I've done here. Take your chopsticks. Just make sure that your gum arabic solution is well mixed. Break up any possible lumps of powder. Once you assured that the powder is all fully dissolved, you can take the beaker off the water bath. Later in the class. In another video, I will show you how this gum arabic solution will be used to make our ink. 11. The Effect Of Adding Gum Arabic: So I have just taken out my butterfly blue pea flower dye, and we have already added vinegar and fold to this solution. This is my gum arabic solution. If saw me making it from this gum Arabic and water. So let's test our ink to see how much gum Arabic We have to put in G, So is still quite watery, but it's a lot more viscous than it was two hours ago. Test Inc. There's still I think my kids try rate. He although the Ink does well at this stage, I do still think that it's been I don't know if it's OBCs are being closer. So you can see that there is some feathering. Yet the length and it's crisp. So that's why you need a binder. And gum Arabic is a binder. It pulls everything in the ink together. The colorant, the water is all held together by the gum arabic. So let see if the situation improves. We put in our gum arabic ink. So we're just going to continue this word Butterfly. I didn't mean to just right. And so we're going to complete the rest of the world. Okay, so let's take your pick, but and we test it again. You can see that it can cause a lot more than they used to be for the gum arabic solution. And let's try to My drops. Okay. That's meanwhile, whether they actually work or we need a bit more of the gum Arabic. It's been awhile and dry. I still see some by doing. So, let's put more drops and we'll wait again to feed my daddy, especially if you hate change. I could think if co-chair, It's a lot better now. There is a lot less bettering as compared to before. But the in the gum arabic, they can see the progression, the impact of the gum Arabic because it binds the ingredients of the EM together. You don't feel as much by doing once we put in enough gum Arabic. So for something of this viscosity icon, and it's about a leaf, 20% of its weight in terms of drop. So be giving you the specific recipe later on. But I just wanted to share with you how beautiful this blue beef. 13. Checking For Light-Fastness and Permanence of Ink: It has been two days since we last created our butterfly blue P ink together. This is what it looks like. A lot of feathering before we put in the gum arabic. Subsequently put in more and more gum arabic. You can see less and less feathering and less and less spreading of the ink. I wanted to highlight this part where we added the mica. You can see this gold shimmer in our butterfly blue pea flower Inc.. A closer look. The top is without the miter and still there's no feathering. This is the wonderful effect of gum arabic. It binds all the ink components together so they don't go their own separate ways. The bottom blue, this is where we add edit bike. It has such a beautiful shimmer. Since you already had the courage and creativity to want to make your own ink, you get to be playful with whatever additives you want to add to it. You can customize your ink into something that you really, really love. Fun ink making. 14. Combine Stage: Creating Powder-Based Inks With Red Yeast Rice Powder: In the previous videos, we worked on creating a die from flowers before we make our ink. Now, in this video, it shows you how to paint dies from powder, which is so much simpler. Here are the tools you need. You have the wing scale, measuring spoons, the coloring agent. In this case, it is yeast rice powder that you can use whatever botanical powder you have on hand to. Here's a binder, which is gum Arabic. And this is the gum arabic solution. The mix them all up. You can use a palette knife or a scraper. You can also use a gas Malda. Alternatively, sometimes I use this beer glass with a thick flat base to mix the ingredients together. This is if I have a large quantity of ink that I'm meeting, I'm going to measure out one gram of this red yeast powder. I talked about how natural dyes need preservatives. So I will never make more than I need. And a one gram is enough for demonstration. You can always scale up the recipe which is provided in the handouts and the Project and Resources tab. Ideally, you have a surface that enables you to mix your ink conveniently without staining. I'll be using this rodeo paper pad later to show you how the ink flows. What do you need right now is you're coloring agent. In this case we have the rate yeast, rice powder and the gum arabic solution will be using this dropper to put in the gum arabic little by little, so that the in binds together. Now put your coloring agent onto the tile or glass or whatever surface that you currently have to make the ink. When you're making your inks for the first time, don't put in too much gum Arabic. I usually put in like ten drops at a time. That's about half millimeter. Now we can mix everything together. If it's a large amount of powder that you're using, you can use the glass smoother. In this case though, because we're making such a small amount, I'll just use my scrap paper. You're just trying to get to a consistency of heavy cream. It's not there yet. If it's still a powdery, just add another ten drops at a time. Different botanical powders have different levels of absorbency. You really have to experiment with. What is it that you have on hand? Now I'm just showing you an example using this wheat rice powder. Now that this ink is more for consistency that we can write with, I'm going to show you how we test and adjust the ink until we get it flowing the way that we like. Once you're ready, you'll take your pen, nib, your paintbrush so that you can coat the back of your packet with your ink. Let's see how the ink flows. You think that the ink is still too thick. You can add a few drops of water. Can support goals. Just add a little at a time. Given the small amount of ink we made. Don't put too much water because that will overwhelm the whole composition. You can see that with water, the exists so much better. I find using the same process for whatever potential ingredients that you have on hand. 15. Thank You! And Your Class Project: So I hope that this class has opened up possibilities, are seeing colors around you and using them as you're coloring agent for making your own inks. So here's our class project. When select a natural material with the color that you like, you may want to go for a walk and open your eyes to see what are the beautiful colors around you. Or just go to your kitchen cupboards and see what's possible. Then use the ABCD process to create an ink with York natural material as you're coloring agent. Then snap a picture of your ink and post your design to our class project section so that we can all like it. As you know, I may not be the same country as you, so I'm really curious to see what's in your backyard, what are the plans that you have around you? And also what's in your kitchen. Thanks for taking this class. I also have other classes where I teach you how to create your own, such as oxides and micas, as well as with alcohol. If you'd like to get in touch with me or you have questions that I can help you with, you can post a new discussion. Also, remember, I have handouts for you that you can refer to. You can also find me on Instagram at joined hands or visit my website at joined I hope to see you in another class.