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