Botanical Ink Making – Dandelion Flower Heads
Botanical ink making is a sheer joy with each batch producing magical results. I tend to use food waste or plants that are past their best so that I am treading lightly with natural resources. I am very aware of the importance of dandelions as a potential source of food for bees and other pollinating insects during spring and so I make dandelion ink when many other flowers are in bloom and dandelions are plentiful.
How to make Dandelion Ink
Step 1 – Carefuly pick a small panful of dandelion heads (pick from various areas so as not to destroy the supply in one place). You will need around 100 flower heads!
Step 2 – Gently squash the dandelion flower heads down into the pan and add just enough water to begin to cover the dandelion heads. Do not add excess water as this will dilute your ink. Add a good glug of distilled vinegar and a tablespoon of salt to help fix and preserve, then place the pan on a heat source. Bring to the boil for 4 minutes and then allow to gently simmer for 20 minutes. Warning – the vinegar will make the room smell and you may get complaints from members of your household (ie teenagers!), so open your windows!
Step 3 – Allow the mixture to cool. Strain the mixture through a seive. Then strain again ensuring that all the inky goodness is not wasted.
Step 4 – Pour the seived mixture through a coffee filter. This ensures that any impurities and plant matter are removed from the liquid.
Step 5 – If you desire a slight sheen to your ink, stir in some gum arabic (that you have ready prepared from powdered to liquid form).
Step 6 – Pour the mixture into an airtight container and label with date/type of ink. I use specialist brown glass bottles with ink droppers but a sterilised jam jar will work just as well.
Step 7 – Enjoy using your dandelion ink! Remember to store in a cool dark place otherwise it will go off more quickly. As it is a botanical ink, it will not keep indefinitely. To prolong its life, add in a drop of essentail oil as this prevents mould from forming and helps to preserve it for longer.