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I walked in the Gary Oak meadow yesterday in Victoria as I do everyday but after watching TCOI I look at what might become colour on paper. Amongst the fawn lilies and shooting star I found a tiny old fire pit with charred wood so naturally I thought to bring home a piece to make black ink. I only had water to mix it with and the alchemy was strange being that the finished liquid was almost like a mercury compound that floated a silver tone on top. I then thought I would make a quill pen to try it. So down from the shelf came one of many feathers and I did it! Made an ancient tool and wrote a few sentences with the ink! Not quite ready for the Book of Kells but good enough to spark a light in my little workroom.

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Along the banks of Laughing Waters Creek (which edges our property here in Tennessee) I spent a gloriously alone afternoon collecting purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum). I’ve made a couple batches of ink so far with varying results. First with vinegar & a little iron at the end. The color of the ink itself was very not-green. A golden ramen color, and I made a wash of the brothy color on some paper and went away, disappointed. When I returned, I found it had dried to a really good green, green with some yellow thrown in, sparkles a bit on the paper. Vibrant, verdant. Surprising! Did the green appear as it oxidized? What role did vinegar play? Did the yellow come from the yellow leaves of the dead nettle tips? These questions rolled around in my head. The next batch I made without vinegar & more iron=sage gunmetal color, interesting but not as exciting, though serviceable-I’ll use it for something, just not drawing leaves!

I have a good bit of plant material left and want to try again. I’d love any bits of wisdom you have about chasing down this prima vera color of the season! Your newsletter this morning is on target-I’ve been thinking about little else in the back burners of my mind.

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Well you’ve inspired me to collect some dead nettle and try it out! When you say it sparkles a bit on the paper, do you think there’s possibly bits of leftover iron/steel bits? (Are you using homemade iron water with metal?)

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Hi Christi! I used plain old iron tablets, ground up. (Iron water is a great ideas though.) I am not too sure what caused these little glimmers-I’d like to think it was in the trichomes of the dead nettle, the little oil glands in the leaves. Definitely make some ink out of this cool little plant if you have some around!

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Love this "There is enough time. There is enough colour. Wandering alone you will find it." Green has been an elusive - only now and again have I been able to coax green from various stuff (best go: Spring cuttings from red Japanese maple) but there is a red cabbage in the back of the fridge from some time late last year who may become an experiment this weekend...

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"There is enough time. There is enough colour. Wandering alone you will find it.” - thank you for this truth. Forsythia blossom + Sea buckthorn bark?

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I am still trying to find writable (ie visible wet) stable local yellows in my area. Bought I like safflower best; tumeric and dill are not bad. So many I find are invisible wet ( golden rod, Mt ash, fern, blueberry leaf, horsetail)

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thank you for this 🙏🏼

I’ve seen the ephemeral spring blossoms of Bloodroot in Tkaronto this past warm weekend... thinking to ask them if they’d be interested in creating some red ink with me...

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Agree about walking in nature, alone or otherwise, but being with your thoughts and the sounds of the birds or the waves is a lovely thing. ✨ Keeping an eagle-eye out for signs of spring here too but grey is still the over-riding colour. Green is appearing though, in tiny patches and lone shoots, and it's growing all the time. I've been - as usual - watching the sun cross the kitchen, taking pictures of shadows, and staring at the sea. I keep buying flowers for the kitchen table - daffodils, roses, tulips - to help me feel spring is a bit more fully formed!

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“Just walk outside with expectationless feeling….there is enough time”

Thanks for the reminder… How we must reconnect anew each day. Every day a new ‘spring’ And that the most direct way to do that is to put oneself in the way of things, jump in the stream, go forth and stay open.

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Wonderful advice for this summer, I think.

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