Sunday, September 25, 2011

Unfurl : September Sketchbook Challenge

Like many other Sketchbook Challengers, my first response to this prompt was fern fronds unfurling. So I pulled up this picture that I just happened to take this picture last spring. ;-)

Photo by Art Wolfe from here.
This got me thinking about the symbolism of Maori culture. I'd seen an Art Wolfe Travels to the Edge episode on PBS in which he visited New Zealand and captured spectacular photos of Maori people, highlighting their beautiful tattoos. They also explained the symbolism of the unfurling fern frond being the symbol of all creation in Maori culture.

I guess PBS did their research, too, because that's the symbol for their Create channel.

Fern Fronds Unfurling. Done in the style of free-motion feathers.
Materials : Pencil, Neocolor 2, ink.

Ribbons Unfurling
Materials : Pencil, Neocolor 2, ink.
You can see some of the fern fronds from the previous page embossed thought the underside of this page.

Prayer Flags Unfurling
Materials : Pencil, Neocolor 2, ink.

A good explanation of Tibetan prayer flags explains that they are hung so that the WIND can carry the special blessings of these prayers around the world. The colors generally represent the following :
Blue - Sky
White - Clouds
Red - Fire
Green - Water
Yellow - Earth.

Inspiration photo from here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Walnut Ink

The first batch of walnut ink I started more than a month ago is finally ready to write with.
With my new glass dip pen, I was able to do this entire feather with a single dip in the ink pot. Real walnut ink works much better than the Tea Ink I played with in August.

Back in late July, the walnuts in the neighborhood started falling. So I collected a bagful. It's not the actual nut or nut shells you need for ink. It's the green husks like these. I left them in the garage to ripen and "age" for a few weeks. This is the basic recipe I used.

Then I sat out in the yard (wearing rubber gloves and an apron) and broke them up with a regular old hammer on a flat rock. In this batch, the actual nuts and shells were still soft and green, so they mashed down pretty easily with the rest of the brown matter.

I threw them in the pot as I smashed them on the rock. Then I added enough water to cover the solid matter, threw in a few rusty nails, and started simmering. I thought it would take a lot longer than an hour to simmer away 1/2 the liquids. But that was it--just an hour.

The spoon was stained a rich brown color. I used a brown paper shopping bag to protect the counter next to the stove. I was also surprised at how easy the cleanup was. Although the ink stains hands and skin, it washed off of the counters and sinks easily--while it was still wet.

Here you can get a better idea of the rich red-brown color the un-fermented ink has. This is what's left in the pot after straining out the solids and decanting the liquids into a jar so it can ferment in a dark cupboard for 1 month.

These are the solids left after the first batch of ink. I was able to go another 2 rounds with this batch of walnut husks. Each successive batch seems a little lighter than the previous one.

This is a small jar of the finished ink. It's so dark, it's difficult to get a good picture, but here it is. I shook it up so you could see some of the ink run down the glass. The bubbles leave a neat pattern, too!

The clove oil is a great suggestion, as the ripened walnut ink tends to smell like compost or manure. Definitely smells like something down on the farm.

I tried a second round with another batch of walnuts. This batch was more ripe--when I smashed the hulls off, the nuts were hard and easy to pick out. I just wanted the husks. When I started simmering this batch, I added a few Anise seeds to make it smell a little better.

Now what to do with all this brown gold?

Everyday Inspiration : Parkling Lot Pine Cones

In my walk across the parking lost at work, I see some of these crushed pine cones.
They have their own beauty. Enjoy!