Jenny’s Homemade Walnut Ink

Jenny’s homemade walnut ink


My friend Jenny has made her own ink from walnuts she gathered herself in Italy – how romantic is that? She very kindly brought me some to try, and I did a little bit of drawing the other night.


Figure drawing made with homemade walnut ink.

Light sketch made with homemade walnut ink



Making your own homemade walnut ink

Jenny’s ink is a mid-brown, but Nick Neddo’s book “The Organic Artist” contains a recipe for black walnut ink.


I love the idea of sourcing your own inks and colours and I’ve got a few friends who do this; it’s something that I’ve always thought I should have a go at. Hopefully I’ll be doing more of it myself soon.

The process is fairly simple: collect whole walnuts with the outer husks, as these are what will be used to make the ink. If you’ve bought shelled walnuts from the supermarket, then they won’t do. The nut itself doesn’t contain the ink. (See below for where to get the husks.)

The walnut husks need to be soft – more rotted and minging the better, but if you’ve got fresh ones then you can crush them or let them ferment a bit.

Boil with water and white vinegar.


Simmer to reduce and thicken. Add gum arabic.

Pour into jars, adding rubbing alcohol to preserve if you like.




Gum Arabic

Rubbing Alcohol (Isopropanol)

Walnuts, of course!


Where to buy walnut hulls

I don’t have walnut trees growing nearby… and I dare say there are lots of us who would like to have a go who don’t have a convenient tree they can forage from.

You can still buy the ground hulls on Etsy, fortunately!


Sketch made with Jenny's homemade walnut ink to demonstrate light and dark tones.


I hope this inspires you to try making your own homemade walnut ink, or other art materials.

See more drawings here.


How to make homemade walnut ink | where to buy walnut hulls

Art And Money: Curated From Etsy

Art about money, curated from Etsy

When I set out to assemble a selection of work from Etsy about art and money and every way they connect, I had no idea how hard it would be.Art & Money curated from Etsy

There are some wonderful pieces but there are some that are… let’s be kind – less than wonderful. Still, that’s just how it is, and makes the payoff that bit better when a piece to be excited about comes up.

I’m hoping to research what other artists and makers are doing with the concept of art and money, and artists’ currencies. It seems as though Etsy and other selling sites are somehow a more honest source of material, as all of these artists want to make some money from their artworks about money.


Click on the pictures to head straight to the listings and find out more about each piece.

Some art about money

Money And Happiness by Denise Cerro Studio – £59.03


Money Book by Emile Goozairow / HandmadeBook – £118.05


Slavery by JRionArtistry – £3.78



Bees and Honey = Money by MinusSixtyOne – £20



Tree of Money by Sonia Romero – £236.11


Untitled (#37) by Pae White – £12,002.20


Promise (17/25) by Lee Devonish – £50 to £100


Art And Money

Art and money.

I’m an artist by training, but a writer as well. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of writing and editing for personal finance blogs.

If you’ve asked yourself why an artist should write a personal finance blog, ask yourself why not – why do we have to labour under the prevailing myth that artists don’t, can’t, or shouldn’t make money?


The Myth of Purity

Art for art’s sake is a lovely concept, but it doesn’t make sense to a working artist. Working artists apply for grants, submit proposals to make work and seek out commissions.

However, most people don’t know about how artists work, and fall back on received myths from novels and movies. Myths are easy to sell and repackage. That’s why we have clichés: they are shortcuts to shared mental imagery, and it’s easy to be lazy and take the shortcut. But ask yourself – how many artists have you ever heard of actually starving in a garret? Do you even know what a garret is, anyway?


Most artists I know (and of course I know quite a lot of them) are far from starving, because they do whatever they have to in order to feed themselves and their families, whilst making their work.

In art schools and universities, we get bombarded with the idea that capitalism is evil. Actually I believe that it is evil, and furthermore, I don’t believe we’ll have capitalism forever. However, we have it now, and we have to get around it, investigate it, show it up for what it is and most of all, not give in to it – whilst living in it.


That’s not easy, but it’s possible.


Fair trade

In this system, we trade goods we provide or services we undertake for money. Accountants do this and so do artists – selling art is not the same as selling out.

Artists, shockingly, are real people, a few of whom get rather wealthy, and the majority of whom don’t. Just like everyone else.

Most artists “on the ground” have the dilemma of wanting to sell their work but not wanting to appear focused on money; yet most successful artists are classified as successful as a result of the monetary value assigned to their back catalogues.


Assigning value

Tell me, how does a work of art get to the stage of “priceless” these days? It’s a fine combination of time, myth (or public relations, a post-modern short-cut to myth) and value. The thing is, value is subjective, and not a ‘fixed value’, and in our era value has become synonymous with potential future price.


It’s complicated.


As much as I’d like to carry on waffling about art, value, selling and selling out, I’ll have to leave that for my PhD thesis, after which I’ll make you call me Dr. Devonish and charge a hefty fee for my waffling (because you’ll then perceive my waffling as coming from an inherently more valuable source than some random blogger).

What I’ll get back to now is the fact that art is not a clean commodity and does not exist in a vacuum, sealed off from filthy money on the outside; the art world is as filthy as anywhere else.


If you want further proof, read the excellent Seven Days In The Art World by Sarah Thornton.


Therefore, struggling to reconcile my lofty ideals with the world’s financial requirements is as good a subject of inquiry as any for an artist such as myself. The fact that currency exists both in hard and abstract forms, material and conceptual, appeals to me greatly, as does the idea that its circulation is far reaching and in a sense, unifying.


This is not about getting rich, however.


There are some people who won’t ever get rich, and I’m one of them. Quite simply, being rich has never been important to me, so I’ll never get there. I work part-time, spend time with my family, and devote time to my spiritual life, and this makes me happy. So being a mother and a wife is no less important than being an artist, and as long as I have enough for essentials and the odd emergency, I’m content.



Whilst contentment was always the most important thing for me, what made me start thinking (theoretically and practically) about money was getting married to a quintessential working-class northerner who quickly declared his intention to follow the British hysteria for homebuying.

Loathe as I was to commit to the system, I promised to get him his house… on our small incomes. No extra jobs, just plugging the leaks and working smarter. The goal was set, and a project emerged.


The project spawned a blog, which became a blogging business.


Unsurprisingly, it spilled over into my artwork. I wanted to develop my practice so that it could incorporate my new interest in finance and economics. All of the data I’ve generated from tracking income and expenses over several years could be poured into new artworks, but where would they be displayed?


I’m not even sure that “display” is the correct mode to think in. So how am I going to tie my two concurrent interests together?



I’m going to make my own money.

Foreign Exchange - "Promise" by Lee Devonish. Screen print on cheque, 2017.

The project is called Foreign Exchange. Why exchange? Because I’ll exchange my currency for yours, but if you want to change your mind, I’ll take it back.


This challenges the idea of the sale of artwork as well as the concept of its value.

You can get one of my hand-printed cheques via my Etsy store (Patreon patrons can obtain them at a discount).

Please stick around to see how it develops – I’m sure we’ll all be surprised.

Foreign Exchange – Creating My Own Artist’s Currency

Foreign Exchange – an artist’s currency

I’ve been working on (ok, thinking about) my currency project, Foreign Exchange, for a few years now.

Foreign Exchange refers to my experience of living between currencies. As a Barbadian, my country’s currency was tied to the US dollar at a rate of 2:1 – so there was always a sense of being half as valuable, or having to work twice as hard for the same result.

After moving to the UK, I experienced an even greater shift in value, with one Barbados dollar roughly equating to one third of one British pound at one point.

Creating my own currency is an act of resetting value.

I’ve naturally settled on an exchange rate of 2:1, resetting my own personal valuation along the lines of the system I grew up under.

Money is a faith-based construct. Every physical piece of money is a token offered in exchange for something of actual value. You have to have faith in the value of the token offered in exchange for money to exist and be worth something, and you have to have faith in the value of a society to appraise its currency at twice that of another’s.

Every Barbados dollar was worth only half of one American dollar, and that bothered me when I thought about the labour it took to earn that single Bajan dollar. It wasn’t worth less than the equivalent, but the money was.

How the art currency project works:

Artwork created for the project takes the form of cheques, coins and notes.

Notes are created with specific denominations (in limited editions).

Cheques are an even more personal form of exchange, as they must be written out to one individual, and that individual is free to request the amount they want the cheque to be made out for. (The minimum amount that a cheque can be written for is £25.)

You can take your chances in paying them in to your bank… whether they will be honoured is a risk you would have to take, but then that would mean that the artwork and its value as an artwork above its base matter would be lost.

How to buy this artist’s currency

Visit my store to view all currency artworks.