Studio Sunday (on a Monday): Mobile Ink Factory

Today I’m going to talk about yesterday in the studio.  Actually, I’m going to talk about yesterday outside of the studio, creating in a different space, in a different way.

This past weekend was doors open here in Toronto, it’s an opportunity to get a glimpse into buildings (or spaces/ideas) not normally open to the public.  I had the chance to participate in just one tour.  Opting for an ‘open air’ tour rather than a ‘doors open’ tour, I checked out the Mobile Ink Factory that was setup only for the weekend!

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know my interest in using and testing natural dyes on paper, like my Indigo post.  So when this ink-making tour/event came up, you know that I was pretty eager!!IMG_3737It ran along the west Toronto Railpath, and was led by the folks at The Toronto Ink Company and DeRail.  An informative walk taught us about the natural and man-made materials that can be used in ink-making along the railpath.  That’s right, this wasn’t just an ink-making tour (which in itself is pretty awesome), it was a tour detailing materials found exclusively on the West railpath that can be made into ink!!
IMG_3731After the walk, everyone emptied their bags of collected finds (there are rules to foraging responsibly on the railpath, I’ll list them below).  Then we sorted them, mixing and matching with everyone else’s finds, into possible ink recipes.
IMG_3736 In the end, I made a beautifully deep and intense black ink.  It’s made from the charcoal dust of burned virginia creeper, mixed with water and gum arabic.  Of course, the folks from Japanese Paper Place were there to help guide ink testing on paper.  Because who does paper better than JPP??  This was my kind of day!!

Three rules of thumb for foraging (as per the Mobile Ink Factory handout):

  1. Harvest from the second patch (don’t pick the only instance of something).
  2. Harvest only the top third (don’t pull the whole plant, let it keep growing).
  3. Leave the space better (pick up trash along the way).


Thanks to all the folks who worked so hard to make this happen, we all had a great time!


2 thoughts on “Studio Sunday (on a Monday): Mobile Ink Factory

  1. This sounds like an activity I would have loved to have participated in. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful information.

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