Black Walnut Ink

Creating black walnut ink for drawing or journaling is a fun and eco-friendly way to explore artistic expression.

Making ink at home offers artists a creative outlet, a sustainable alternative, and a way to exercise greater control over the artistic process, ultimately resulting in more meaningful and fulfilling artwork. Before we get into how to make walnut ink, let’s dive into why anyone might want to make ink in the first place.

Why Would Anyone Make Ink?

There are several reasons why someone might choose to make their ink rather than buy it:

Cost: Making ink at home can be more cost-effective than purchasing commercial ink, especially if you can access inexpensive or readily available materials such as black walnuts for black ink, berries like elderberry for red ink, or charcoal for charcoal ink.

Customization: Homemade ink allows for greater customization in color, consistency, and texture. By experimenting with different ingredients and ratios, artists can create unique shades and effects that suit their artistic vision and style.

Sustainability: Making ink at home can be a more sustainable option, as it reduces reliance on commercially produced products that may contain synthetic dyes or chemicals. Using natural materials such as plant extracts or minerals minimizes environmental impact and promotes eco-friendly practices.

Cost: Making ink at home can be more cost-effective than purchasing commercial ink, especially if you have access to inexpensive or readily available materials such as black walnuts for black ink, berries for red ink, or charcoal for charcoal ink.

Creativity: For many artists, the process of making ink from scratch is a creative and rewarding endeavor in itself. It offers an opportunity to connect with the natural world, experiment with traditional techniques, and explore the possibilities of alternative art mediums.

Control: Homemade ink provides artists with greater control over the ingredients used and the quality of the final product. They can choose organic or non-toxic materials, avoid additives or preservatives, and tailor the ink formulation to their specific preferences and requirements.

Artisanal Appeal: Handcrafted ink adds a personal and artisanal touch to artwork, enhancing its authenticity and value. Knowing that the ink was made with care and attention to detail can imbue artwork with a sense of craftsmanship and character.

Step 1 – Sourcing Black Walnuts:

For people who do not own black walnut trees, you might be wondering how to obtain the walnut hulls that make ink. Just locate anyone who owns a tree.

Typical Conversation Starter:

Hey, I recently noticed the abundance of black walnut trees in your yard, and I was wondering if you would be open to allowing me to gather some of the fallen walnuts.

I’m an avid forager and enjoy using black walnuts for cooking and crafting projects.

I have never had anyone decline my offer to clean up their lawn.

Step 2 – Preparing The Hulls:

Removing Hulls

The first step involves husking the walnuts to reveal their hard-shelled nut, a task that can be messy but satisfying.

Be sure to wear gloves because your hands will be stained otherwise. There is a reason that the hulls are used to make walnut stain 🙂

Drying Hulls

After the hulls are all removed from the nuts, they can be dried to grind into powder. You can dry the hulls two ways.

  • Spread them out on old window screens and allow them to dry naturally.
  • Use a dehydrator to speed up the process. Yes, the trays can get a little stained from the brown dye.

Grinding Hulls Into Powder:

Next, it is on to grinding the dried hulls into powder. I use a dedicated blender for this.

As a handy tip, anytime you need a blender for art purposes head over to the second-hand shop, there is no reason to purchase a brand-new blender for this purpose. You can pick one up for extremely cheap. I use it to blend paper pulp, bath and body recipes, and grind flowers for additional items I create.

When grinding walnut powder I’ve found that if the powder will be stored, I pulse it to a medium consistency so it can be used for different projects.

Then using a mortar and pestle you can grind to a fine constancy. But, if you are only making powder for ink, pulse that powder up fine. The powder needs to mix well with water to create ink.

Where Can I Buy The Powder:

If you think it is a lot of work to create the powder, it is. If you want to skip all the work, you are in luck! I make large batches during the fall and list some on Etsy for other like-minded eco-friendly customers to explore artistic expression with.

The powder has a medium ground constancy, so you’ll have to pulse it in a blender or use a mortar and pestle to grind the powder to a finer to make ink.

Making Ink From Black Walnut Powder:

Materials Needed:


  1. Grind the Hulls into Powder:
    Using a mortar and pestle or a blender, grind the dried black walnut hulls into a fine powder. Take your time to ensure that the powder is as smooth and uniform as possible.
  2. Strain the Powder:
    • Once the hulls are ground into a fine powder, strain the powder through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove any larger particles or debris. This will help ensure a smoother ink consistency.
  3. Mix with Water:
    • Transfer the strained black walnut powder into a glass jar or container. Gradually add water to the powder, stirring continuously to create a smooth paste. The ratio of powder to water will depend on the desired consistency of the ink.
  4. Adjust Consistency:
    • Depending on your preference, you can adjust the consistency of the ink by adding more water for a thinner ink or more powder for a thicker ink. Experiment with different ratios until you achieve the desired texture.
  5. Store the Ink:
    • Once the ink reaches the desired consistency, transfer it into a glass jar or airtight container for storage. Store the ink in a cool, dark place when not in use to prevent spoilage.
  6. Use for Drawing:
    • Dip a paintbrush or dip pen into the black walnut powder ink and start drawing on paper or canvas. The ink can be used for various artistic techniques, including sketching, line drawing, and shading. Build up layers of paint to create different shades.
  7. Let Dry:
    • Allow your artwork to dry completely before handling or displaying it. Depending on the thickness of the ink and the type of paper or canvas used, drying times may vary.

Then Unleash Your Creativity:

By following these steps, you can create your own homemade black walnut powder ink for drawing, adding a touch of natural beauty and creativity to your artistic endeavors. Experiment with different techniques and applications to unleash your imagination and bring your artwork to life.

The post was last updated in March 2024.

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