Black Walnut Ink

black walnut ink bottling

In mid-October, I worked on a craft project that I’ve wanted to do for many years, but thought it would be too difficult so I never even tried. Duh. It wasn’t that hard. Quite messy though. I made black walnut ink (I hope) from the tree in our backyard.

These things drop from the tree and look like tennis balls. Somehow, squirrels clamp their teeth into them and can actually run away with them like a dog. More like a dog hopping. What’s great about this craft is that after the husks are removed from the walnuts, you can throw the walnuts back out for the critters.

I read several blogs for the instructions and basically combined them into this process. One thing they all said in common was that the husks should not be thrown into gardens because after boiling, they excrete some kind of acidic quality that will kill your flowers.

I started on the 13th and just finished on the 20th only because that’s how my body and schedule worked out. It ended up being fortuitous because today is the Full Moon or esbat, a day when some witches have ceremonies but aren’t major holidays.


The solution did have a stronger stinky smell on the first day which is why, once I transferred it to the crockpot, I put it outside to simmer. Since it was going to take many hours, I couldn’t simmer it on the stove or I would have used up the propane. Some of the bloggers said they used camping stoves.

This Black Walnut Ink was made over a period of days and bottled on the day of the Full Moon, October 20, 2021.

  • 10 black walnuts boiled.
  • Husks removed and transferred to crockpot.
  • Added vodka and white vinegar.
  • Simmered on high for 6 hours. Cooled.
  • Filtered into mason jars. It made around 30 ounces by this point.
  • Simmered again in crockpot with whole cloves (to mask some of the odor) for 6 hours to reduce it more and ended up with around 26 ounces.
  • Cooled overnight. Filtered again through a sieve and coffee filter. Then I used an espresso filter and holder from a broken Krups machine and that worked perfectly as an additional filter and funnel for the small bottles! I felt like a genius thinking up the espresso part idea.

If you’re doing this for yourself, you can use the solution as a dye too; I guess cotton or maybe silk would work. It might be a nice authentic touch to a Renaissance/Fantasy costume. I stained some balsa wood with it which soaked it up like a sponge.

  • The bottles were $13.
  • 5 Gift boxes were $10.
  • Parchment and tape were things I had. The foam to help soften the packaging was reused from something I ordered and has been in my closet.
  • I first used a Teflon coated pot and my mother’s big crockpot. Then she got me a small 2 quart crockpot for the second simmering stage ($10).
  • The only further expenses will be shipping to friends which I hope to do before Halloween, but I have a way of giving Gus excursions all my energy. This averaged around $6 per package.

black walnut ink bottling

What’s even more interesting about this project is that, as I write this up, Bloomberg has an article about how there’s a blue shortage for paint manufacturers.

At DuCret School of Art where I model, Frank used to teach a class about making the paints. They have old displays from those days. He retired but he’ll be there this week when I work. I have photos of the bottles of pigments and of course can’t find them.

Nightcrawler by JK Woodward


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