PhaseIII/6ft. and Making Color from Nature

A Socially Distant Art Installation

My installation of natural inks and artwork made from foraged plants.

A few weeks ago I was privileged to participate in an exhibition with my good friend and artist Hannie Eisma Varosy. We were planning our biannual art exhibition which was going to be a continuation of the 2018 one but  life as we all know it took a more solitary turn in March and we both found ourselves creating very different art.

Exhibition Statement

In January I started making eco ink prints with natural plant materials that I found i.e. leaves and grasses; I had the idea of using the prints as a starting point for much larger collages. I continued the printing through mid-March when in the midst of Covid 19 I ran out of black ink. With all the stores closed and the only art supply store online not able to deliver for 3 to 4 weeks I  got intrested in finding out how to make it. 

Ink oak leaf

The process is fairly easy: 1. Find your ingredient 2. Prepare it. 3. Intensify the color 4. Filter the color 5. Make it permanent 5. Bottle it 6. Test it.

Ink tests strips and cooking notes

” natural ink is a landscape condensed into a little bottle”.

Jason Logan

During one of our conversations about the art show Hannie and I concluded that my art this year became about the process rather than the outcome and it was with that in mind that we put together the installation.

Needless to say I am now completely enchanted by natural ink. It has become a very in-depth journey about the process, the chemistry, and the way that color can be extricated from simple found matter and placed into a very tiny bottle to make marks. It continues to be an enlightening and exciting process as I go through the seasons.

Back story: In August 2018 my sister Carol, who is an herbalist, asked if I would like her to make me some black walnut ink from the tree in my mother’s yard. I remember there was a bit of a story in the making of the ink, something about bugs and a not so great smell. She made a big bottle of it and gave it to me that October.  When I ran out of black ink, Carol was the first person I called. She is a wealth of information and recommended that I read Make Ink: A Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking by Jason Logan and also anything I could about natural dyes since the two are very closely related.

If you would like to know more about ink making and what I am up to, take look at my other posts on this blog and sign up to get notifications.. http://www.leahmccloskeyart.com

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