Project step photo 2


Gather your Natural Materials

Go outside and/or into your kitchen to gather your materials. You can use: flower petals, leaves, tea, fruits & vegetables, spices & charcoal/soot.

Project step photo 2
Project step photo 2


Prepare you Pigment Materials

n order to make the inks with your natural materials ready. You’ll need to cut them up or crush them. You can cut them with scissors and/or crush them with the back of a spoon. If you’re making more than one color ink make sure you wash your scissors or spoon in between so you don’t mix colors. Add each natural material to a separate container. View

Project step photo 2
Project step photo 2


Mix your Natural Inks

You’ll need hot water, almost boiling, to add to your natural materials. Our natural materials measured to about 1 TBS each. We added in 1/4 cup of water- you can add more depending on how much natural materials you have. After you do that you need to add the vinegar (1/2 tsp per ¼ cup of water) & salt (1 pinch per container). Vinegar has been used in inks for quite a while. It’s what’s called a “mordant” or “fixative”. It helps the dye “bind”, “set”, or attach onto paper of fabric. The salt will help preserve the ink so that it lasts longer. Now let it sit overnight.

*Optional, come back in an hour to check on your ink. If it seems to light you can add more materials or other natural ingredients. Remember it’s not going to look like store-bought ink, it will be fainter in color. We added grass clippings to the green ink & raspberries in the pink ink. Look at our final ink picture to see what it will look like.

Project step photo 2
Project step photo 2


Finish Your Natural Ink

When you come back you should see that the water is tinted the color of your natural materials. Now you need to sift out the particles so it’s all liquid. Use a coffee filter stretched over your final ink container to catch the solids.

Project step photo 2
Project step photo 2


Draw With Your Inks

Take out your paper and paintbrush and have fun drawing whatever you want with your homemade inks. You may need to paint multiple layers to get a darker color. Our photo had our inks layered 3 times. Some inks will work & some may not. That’s part of experimenting. Can you do this again and add less water? Add more natural materials? Experiment and see what is most successful. Make sure you take notes while you do this so you can remember which combinations & measurements worked best for next time.

Remember: Your inks will need to be stored in the refrigerator to preserve them after you’re done using them.


For the science behind why natural inks and synthetic inks look difference visit our Instructable here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Making-Natural-Inks/

Check out more projects from the Maker Studio on our blog: https://themakerstudio.tumblr.com/

Project author photo

Ryan Bell

Ryan is the Maker Specialist at the Maker Studio @ Science City, where she puts her maker skills to work developing & teaching activities for all ages in 3d printing, sewing, electronics, printmaking, upcycling and many other making areas. In her free time she enjoys learning new skills and making cosplay components/costumes, anything with fiber arts, crafting with cardboard & wearable electronics. Instagram: @ryan_making_things

Please Note

Your safety is your own responsibility, including proper use of equipment and safety gear, and determining whether you have adequate skill and experience. Power tools, electricity, and other resources used for these projects are dangerous, unless used properly and with adequate precautions, including safety gear and adult supervision. Some illustrative photos do not depict safety precautions or equipment, in order to show the project steps more clearly. Use of the instructions and suggestions found in Maker Camp is at your own risk. Maker Media, Inc., disclaims all responsibility for any resulting damage, injury, or expense.

Natural Inks

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1 day



Explore making your own inks with ingredients you find outside or in your kitchen.


  • Pigment materials (see suggestions in Step 1)
  • White vinegar
  • Salt
  • Hot Water
  • Scissors
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Coffee filter/strainer
  • Containers for your ink
  • Paper
  • Paint brush