Walnut Husk Ink Revisited

20 Oct


It’s been about a year since I wrote this post when I made a batch of walnut ink. I’ve been using it regularly and it’s delicious, silky, smooth and rich. It seems to be lightfast, no signs of fading on any of the pieces, although I’ve been careful to use best quality acid-free paper like Fabriano and Saunders.


Here’s the most recent drawing, in carbon and white conte crayon overlaid onto a background of walnut ink.


So today I finally finished the walnut ink I started a couple of weeks ago. A friend gave me 4 fresh walnuts (juglans regia) in their husks. I peeled them and left the husks to stand in a basin of water for about a week and a half. They went very black and mushy. I put the basin, covered with tin foil,  into a slow cooker with hot water coming up to half way and left it on the lowest setting overnight, letting it cool completely for another day and night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then I strained it through a ‘J’ cloth into a large jar and tested its strength on a bit of cartridge paper. It was quite pale so I boiled it on the stove and reduced it, checking occasionally until it was a decent sepia colour. There wasn’t much to bottle, about a quarter of a tea mug. The recipes I’ve looked at online suggest adding up to 20% surgical spirit (rubbing alcohol) as a preservative, but there’s so little that I think I’ll use it up pretty quickly. I’ll do some drawings with it and leave them in the light until this time next year. If they haven’t faded, I’ll see if  I can get hold of a larger amount of husks and make some more.


33 Responses to “Walnut Husk Ink Revisited”

  1. Rosie Scribblah March 9, 2016 at 22:39 #

    Reblogged this on scribblah and commented:

    I’ve updated this post about the time I made some walnut ink

  2. cavepainter March 9, 2016 at 15:57 #

    That looks a lot stronger than the imitation walnut ink I have.

    • Rosie Scribblah March 9, 2016 at 16:08 #

      I made up a second batch with 40 husks and it made a litre of a very dark sepia, silky ink. It’s delicious to use and virtually free to make. Just find someone with a walnut tree.

  3. Nancy Farmer October 23, 2014 at 12:06 #

    what fun! I am impressed that you got even this much ink from 4 husks – doesn’t sound many husks to me. Is it basically a tannin? If so, perhaps you could combine it with a recipe for iron gall ink with the walnuts instead of the oak galls? That dries to a blacker colour with a blueish sheen when you put it on thick. Can’t remember how well it stands up to light, but I think possibly better than the tannin on its own, with the slight issue that it can eat the paper over time!

    • Rosie Scribblah October 23, 2014 at 19:38 #

      I’m not sure if it’s a tannin. The husks stain badly and the J cloth I used can’t be washed clean. Some recipes add iron to make the ink black, but I wanted the warm sepia. Everything I’ve read says the ink is lightfast, but I just want to make sure. It certainly gives a lot of ink from very few husks.

  4. anna warren portfolio October 22, 2014 at 06:56 #

    Its a lovely warm colour – it will be interesting to see how lightfast it is. So nice to have something so organic!

    • Rosie Scribblah October 22, 2014 at 15:49 #

      Everything I’ve read says it’s colourfast, but I won’t do anything for sale with it until I’ve left some test pieces for a year. Just to satisfy myself 🙂

  5. allesistgut October 21, 2014 at 07:38 #

    Very interesting. Thank you so much for showing and sharing. Have a happy day! 🙂

  6. mrsdaffodil October 21, 2014 at 02:16 #

    This looks very good! Congratulations.

  7. Mary October 20, 2014 at 23:22 #

    Such a lovely sepia color! Thanks for sharing your process, Rosie. I have a batch going now and just tested the color, but like yours, it will need a bit more concentrating. I’ve read the light-fastness is good, but doing your own test is wise.

    • Rosie Scribblah October 22, 2014 at 15:54 #

      Thanks, Mary. I’m looking forward to testing it out.


  1. Big Boughs At Bodnant | scribblah - April 21, 2021

    […] that had fallen at some point and thrown up new, contorted boughs from where it lay. I chose my homemade walnut ink and vintage squirrel brushes onto some vintage Ingres paper I was given a few years […]

  2. Rework Redraw | scribblah - April 13, 2021

    […] had done mostly quite light and insubstantial pencil or ballpoint sketches. So I grabbed some of my homemade walnut ink and a big Escoda brush and worked into this very slight drawing of the Hoad monument. I think […]

  3. Beginning To End | scribblah - October 3, 2019

    […] started with an ink and wash sketch of a snipe (using my homemade walnut ink at Swansea Museum) drawn with […]

  4. My Geographic Palette #3 – Walnut Ink | scribblah - July 23, 2019

    […] is in the centre of an apple sized green fruit. I made my own walnut ink from them, please click here if you want to see the technique I […]

  5. Playing With Words | scribblah - March 5, 2019

    […] pictorial. Here’s the start of a new woodcut – maybe. I’m working it up in my home-made walnut ink onto a piece of vintage Somerset watercolour paper. It needs a lot more working out, but the […]

  6. Randomness. 2 | scribblah - May 9, 2018

    […] A2. I did one a few days ago and I think I’ll do a series and see what happens. I used my home-made walnut husk ink, firstly applying a light wash and when that was dry, brushing the neat ink over with a large, flat […]

  7. Vintage Paper And Liquid Silk | scribblah - May 2, 2018

    […] click here to find out how to make walnut […]

  8. Man Engine | scribblah - April 12, 2018

    […] Back last week I was rummaging through the drawers in my plans chest and pulled out some used paper that I thought could be reused and today I got my chance. Swansea hosted Man Engine , the largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain, which has been journeying up from Cornwall. It’s amazing. I was invited to take part in a live drawing event (with afternoon tea) at Galerie Simpson on Swansea’s High Street to coincide with the behemoth’s progress through the city. It’s very slow moving so I managed to sketch the giant head outside the gallery on the pavement as it rumbled by. I drew with black, white and sanguine conté crayon and some of my home-made sepia walnut ink onto a recycled cyanotype print on Bockingford paper. If you want to know how to make walnut ink, please check out my blog post here. […]

  9. More Rummaging | scribblah - April 3, 2018

    […] anything more with. This is a piece of paper stretched and gessoed then painted at random with my home-made walnut ink. I had taken it out on my journeys around Wales hunting megaliths and started drawing some ancient […]

  10. Coming Full Circle | scribblah - March 10, 2018

    […] started out with my home-made walnut ink, blocking in the base of the tree and working into it with sanguine conté crayon to develop a […]

  11. A Delicate Tracery | scribblah - February 28, 2018

    […] different angles and also varying my use of drawing media. In this, my final drawing, I used my home-made walnut ink  and a brush to block in the tree that was lying prone on the ground. Then I drew the strong lusty […]

  12. Reaching Lustily Skywards | scribblah - February 27, 2018

    […] had taken a pot of my home-made walnut ink and some brushes, it seemed appropriate to draw the tree with ink made from the fruit of a tree. […]

  13. Drawing With Liquid Silk   | scribblah - April 3, 2017

    […] Source: Walnut Husk Ink Revisited […]

  14. The Stone By The Motorway | scribblah - June 25, 2016

    […] the background. I’ve used some heavyweight Tate Gallery paper and randomly sponged it with a walnut ink wash. Once it had dried I drew into it with a 6B graphite stick and a white Kohinoor […]

  15. Follow The Bear | scribblah - March 23, 2016

    […] I did a sparse drawing, trying to tap into the feelings the place inspired in me rather than slavishly copying what was in front of my eyes. I had prepared the paper with washes of my home-made walnut ink and I wanted to keep a lot of it intact – the surface of the ink is thick and satiny, it holds the shapes traced by the brushstrokes beautifully and I didn’t want to lose too much of that because it adds a lushness to the work. Here’s a previous blog on how to make walnut husk ink here. […]

  16. The Maenhir on Bryn Y Rhyd | scribblah - March 7, 2016

    […] carbon and white conte crayon onto a piece of Fabriano Accademica that I had previously drawn on in home-made walnut ink. It gives a luscious silky surface and a range of sepia […]

  17. Walnuts And Mud | scribblah - March 2, 2016

    […] Malta. I made a batch of walnut ink a while back and it’s absolutely gorgeous to use. Click here for the method. I didn’t much like the drawing of the catacombs though, so I ripped it in two […]

  18. Time To Play | scribblah - January 24, 2015

    […] I used one of these as the basis for the much larger drawing I did this weekend, working with the walnut husk ink I made a while ago, applying it with large brushes and a piece of natural sponge. When it was dry I […]

  19. Sepia Catacombs | scribblah - December 23, 2014

    […] Hundred Lives art collective at the Creative Bubble artspace and I decided to experiment with the walnut husk ink I made a few weeks ago. I used one of those very quick catacomb sketches as a starting point and […]

  20. New male nude | scribblah - November 27, 2014

    […] life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop where I did some experimenting with my new natural media, walnut sepia ink (I made this a few weeks ago) and Bideford Black, kindly sent to me by artists in North Devon. I […]

Please Leave a Reply. Thank You.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: