Wild Inks and Paints (2 day course)

USA sessions: 20-21 May 2023, Shiele Museum, 1500 EAST GARRISON BOULEVARD • GASTONIA, NC 28054, USA, 704-866-6900. Booking and more details here.

Wild Paints and Inks with Foundandground

Paints: Come and learn how to make beautiful paints from what we can forage in nature and find in our neighbourhoods. Using materials of earth, trees, plants and water, we’ll make colourful natural paints that our ancestors would have used on parchment or paper, particularly in Europe from 600CE until the Twentieth Century, as well as in India and the Middle East. You’ll go home with simple paints and refined watercolours, but more importantly, the knowledge of how to make art materials from what’s around you, wherever you are. You will learn how to ethically forage your materials without harming your environment.

We will cover watercolours and gouache from gum Arabic and cherry tree gum, tempera and glair from egg, and vegan alternatives to egg paints. The day will be hands-on and practical, but we’ll also learn about the traditional uses of all the paints we make and there will be ample time for questions. Bring a sketchbook and favourite brush or two, to make swatches of your paints throughout the session. All other materials will be provided.

Inks: In this class we’ll learn to make oak gall and iron gall ink, the traditional ink of the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence and almost all European illuminated manuscripts, such as the Book of Kells. We will learn a foraged, simple, technique as well as a studio method, both will make beautiful black inks. You will learn how to ethically forage your materials. Then we will make other botanical inks and learn how to create, test, and modify a variety of plant-based materials for colourful inks. We will make quill pens and brushes from goose or turkey feathers, as used in Saxon times in the scriptorium. I’ll be explaining some of the history and chemistry of our inks and how to use and store them.

You’ll go home with inks, pens, brushes, and the knowledge of how to brew up simple colourful inks and long-lasting tannin-based inks at home. Bring a sketchbook and favourite brush or two, to make swatches of your inks throughout the session. All other materials will be provided.

What to bring for either workshop: wear old clothes as some of the materials we’ll use can stain. Feel free to bring any large feathers (such as goose, swan, gull or crow) that you find in the meantime, as well as any oak galls or seashells you find.

Parchment, Paints and Pens is a brand new course created with my friend and colleague Dr Theresa Emmerich Kamper (of Alone Season 8 fame) in Saxons River, Vermont, USA. All the details and bookings are here. May 13-14 2023. 

Natural Inks and Paints for Decorating Buckskin and Leather

Click here for booking

– This one-day workshop will be given by Caroline Ross –
Course language is English

Learn how to make traditional natural permanent inks and earth paints for use on buckskin, suede, leather and parchment. Using simple techniques and ancient recipes we will create a range of beautiful colours to decorate bags, clothes and shoes, and inks with which to add fine designs to natural leathers, or to embellish vintage leather.
Using techniques and recipes from the Stone Age to the Renaissance, we will make and use our inks and paints, create drawing tools, and learn what mediums are best in which circumstances.
Many of the things we will make are also good to use on wood, fabric or paper, too.

You will learn:

  • what to forage in nature and urban environmentshow to make ink
  • how to refine pigments from rocks and clays 
  • how to make paints with various natural binders that will adhere to leathers and suedes
  • make improvised tools for paint application
  • learn the principles of colour making to adapt to any environment
  • learn the basic chemistry and troubleshooting so that you can experiment and problem-solve on your own
  • work from simple natural objects such as leaves and feathers to create beautiful designs

All materials will be provided. You’ll go home with some ink and paints, test swatches on leatherYou can also bring a small buckskin or leather item to work on in the session, if you wish.

If you wish you could combine this course with the Buckskin tanning prior to this course on Monday – Wednesday; and stay on location.
Or make it a whole week long course and also enlist also for the Leather Clothing course a weekend earlier.

All three topics are closely related so it makes for a good complete learning curve!

EXTRA info

Duration: Thursday 10:00 am to ± 17:00 pm
Group size: min 5 – max 12
Prerequisites: no previous knowledge or skills needed.
Catering: this course is self catering, EXTRA provides coffee, tea and cookies
Location: The Netherlands, North-East
Included: all needed materials and coffee / tea

Not included: please bring your own lunch and warm clothes

Upcoming in-person and online classes and courses May 2023 onwards

1: Following on from the hugely popular Watercolour Deep Dive, Flora and I have created a Deep Dive into finding, grinding, preparing and refining natural pigments, with Plants and Colour Online 30th May and 6th June, details to follow next month. You can register your interest here. 

2: I’ll be teaching The Labyrinth and the Dancing Floor with the Dark Mountain Project at Dartington College, Devon UK. 19-23rd June 2023. 

3: I’ll be returning to teach my unique 5 day Found and Ground natural art materialscourse at Dartington College, Totnes, Devon, UK, 2-6 October 2023. Full details next time, but you can click the link to book already and get further details.