Sunday 23 September 2012

Making Ink

Yesterday we went to The Whitechapel Gallery to their 'family day' for a workshop making vegetable inks.

I've been looking forward to being able to do these kinds of things with Coco - and it was a great workshop for her, very well run by Hannah and Ken from Hato Press.
As it happened because the workshop still had space Henry and Hugh joined in too - so the ages ranged from Henry at 20 months to a girl of about 15 and it was a lovely gentle couple of hours, we even got lunch made from the bits of veg we didn't use to make the ink.

Getting serious about preparing the red cabbage...

This girl got the beetroot prep job.

Ink cooking...

And meanwhile the leftovers were getting cooked up into a seriously good soup... (recipe available in this Studio Cookbook that Ken compiled.

Check out that beetroot ink...
A straw with the end cut off at an angle makes a surprisingly effective fountain pen - who knew!?

Getting ready to have our lunch...

To anyone interested it is surprisingly easy to make vegetable inks with seriously good colour. We used:
White onions - skins only
Red onions - skins only
Beetroot - peeled
Red cabbage

For the beetroot and cabbage you add just enough water to nearly cover the veg and boil for 40 minutes - then drain and mix in some salt, about one teaspoon for half a cup of ink, the salt helps bring the colour out. You can also add malt vinegar if you want to preserve your ink.

For the onion skins you need to add more water, but apparently these don't need so long to cook - 20 minutes will do, add salt and vinegar as above.

All this was totally free, so good. We'll be back! 


  1. Wow what a good idea! I used to be into hand dying and using natural inks, so it's great to see a workshop being taught to kids, the results look great!

  2. Awesome idea! I'd have loved to take my eldest two to that!