Where to buy square picture frames in Canada for Melissa Mary Jenkins Art Prints

Where to buy square picture frames in Canada for Melissa Mary Jenkins Art Prints.

“Pear”

I have been increasingly inundated with questions about where to find frames for my square art prints. You can currently purchase my square art prints through Lemontree + Co , Rug & Weave , Hacienda and melissamaryjenkins Etsy shop.

“Grey Skies”

Many of the photos of my art prints in my Etsy shop are mock up photos. This means that I carefully curated mock up photos and inserted my artwork into the photos with an editing program.

“Reaching Towards”

Finding similar square frames in real life can be a little tricky, so I compliled a list of where to shop for 12 X 12″ and 8 X 8″ frames in Canada. *For all my US friends, your list is currently being compiled*

“Beach”

Posterjack.ca

I print my art prints with a local Canadian company called Posterjack, who also offers professional framing. With a choice of over 50 frame styles and colours, Posterjack provides customers with the option of framing my 12 X 12″ art prints (along with many other sizes). If you wish to have your artwork professionally framed by Posterjack, please message me through Etsy and I will create a custom listing for you.

*Posterjack currently does not have an option for framing an 8 X 8″ print*

Etsy

I am highlighting a Canadian Etsy company called LivingTaste because it is a simple click away when purchasing art prints in my melissamaryjenkins Etsy shop. They offer a 12 X 12″ frame (without mat) or 7.5 X 7.5 (with mat) for 8×8″ artwork. It is a Metal Photo Picture Frame (Aluminum Shiny Brushed) and it is offered in Grey, Gold and Black.

Metal Photo Picture Frame Aluminum Shiny Brushed | Etsy

West Elm

These 12 X 12″ Gallery Frames from West Elm create a true museum-inspired look. They are available in Black, Wheat, Brass, Grey Wash, Nickel, Walnut and White.

Multi-Mat Gallery Frames – Black | west elm Canada

Another option at West Elm is this 12 X 12″ Alder wood frame in a Wheat finish.

Multi-Mat Wide Wood Gallery Frames – Wheat | west elm Canada

Wayfair.ca

This frame from Wayfair is a perfect pairing with my Vintage Still Life Pear painting. And while I am unable to provide a photo of the frame in a square format, I think you will agree, it is a beautiful modern rendition of an antique frame. It is pictured here in Bronze but it is also offered in Aged Gold, Aged Silver, Antique White, and Copper.

Lark Manor Stratton Picture Frame, 0.75″ Wide With Glass Facing & Reviews | Wayfair.ca

Wayfair offers a few other square frames in various colours:

Gold and Black 12 X 12″ Metal Photo Picture Frame, with a 8 X 8″ Mat and Tempered Glass

Mercer41 12X12 Metal Photo Picture Frame, Gold Beveled Frame (Aluminum Satin Brushed), With A 8X8 Mat And Tempered Glass | Wayfair.ca

Grey Wood Frame in 8 X 8″ and 12 X 12″

Wrought Studio Rayna Wood Gallery Picture Frame & Reviews | Wayfair.ca

Black Double Matted Frame 12 X 12″ with 8 X 8″ Mat

Winston Porter Hoyos Wall Picture Frame & Reviews | Wayfair.ca

White and Black Wood Frame, with a 8 X 8″ Mat and Tempered Glass

Ebern Designs 12X12 Photo Picture Frame, Black Wood Frame, With 8X8 Mat And Tempered Glass | Wayfair.ca

Amazon.ca

Amazon has a decent selection of square frames, but I have chosen to link frames that will be shipped quickly and without an import fees deposit.

This gold frame would add a sleek modern edge to my art prints and it is also offered in grey.

12×12 Gray Metal Frame with 8×8 Mat 12×12 Metal Photo Picture Frame, Grey Frame (Aluminum Shiny Brushed), with 8×8 Mat and Tempered Glass : Amazon.ca: Home

White 8 X 8

RPJC Solid Wood and High Definition Glass Picture Frame Display Photo 8×8 with Mat or 11×11 Without Mat for Wall Mounting Brown : Amazon.ca: Home

White Double Frame, MATTED to 5 X 5″ , x 8″

Gallery Solutions Flat Tabletop Wall Picture 8X8 White Double Frame, MATTED to 5X5, x 8 inches : Amazon.ca: Home

Rustic Wood 8 X 8″

Ray & Chow 8×8 inch Rustic Brown Matted Square Picture Frame – Made to Display 8×8 Picture without Mat or 5×5 with Mat- Glass Window- Solid Wood- with Table Top Stand or Wall Hanging : Amazon.ca: Home

Solid Wood and High-Definition Glass Picture Frame Display Photo 8 X 8″ with Mat or 11 X 11″ Without Mat for Wall Mounting Brown

RPJC Solid Wood and High Definition Glass Picture Frame Display Photo 8×8 with Mat or 11×11 Without Mat for Wall Mounting Brown : Amazon.ca: Home

Michaels.ca

Michaels always holds great sales and offers white and black square framing options.

White Square Frame with Double Mat 8 X 8″ (12 X 12″ unmatted)

Shop for the White Square Gallery Wall Frame with Double Mat by Studio Décor® at Michaels

Black Square Frame with Double Mat 8 x 8in (12 x 12in unmatted)

Shop for the Black Square Gallery Wall Frame with Double Mat by Studio Décor® at Michaels

Walmart.ca

This light wood toned 12 X 12″ frame with single mat with an opening for an 8 X 8″ print would suit my neutral pieces perfectly.

hometrends Gallery Perfection Square Frame | Walmart Canada

similar mock up frames with Neutral #1 and Neutral #2 in my Etsy shop

Black 8 X 8″

8-Inch Square Photo Frame Poster Frames, Picture Frame for Home Decor | Walmart Canada

Winners.ca and Homesense Canada

Who doesn’t love a stroll through Winners and/or Homesense where you can find amazing deals and random frame sizes?

Thrift Stores, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, garage sales etc

Both vintage and modern frames are always fun to discover at your favourite thrift store, garage sale or online marketplace.

If you know of any other Canadian shops who carry options for 8 X 8″ and 12 X 12″ frames, please comment below and I will add the company to my list!

“It’s a Winner!” Art Prints now available at Lemontree + Co. Interiors

Two new vintage-inspired landscape prints are now available at Lemontree + Co. Interiors.

“Lavenham Green”

When I first embarked on painting digital art, my vision was to create artwork reminiscent of vintage landscapes. Truth be told, I dreamed of creating paintings that would blend seamlessly into Sophia of Lemontree + Co. Interiors’ finely curated line of vintage-modern home goods. Not only is Sophia’s design aesthetic exquisite, she has a keen eye for detail. So once I had completed “Lavenham Green,” I reached out to Sophia to hear her thoughts on this painting. Her exact response was, “It’s a winner!! I’ll buy it.”

Well, needless to say, Sophia’s response definitely inspired me to continue. I am deeply touched by her encouragement, not only because I admire her ability to achieve sophisticated simplicity, but also because she values authenticity and a natural aesthetic. In Sophia’s words, “It [nature] brings authenticity to a room and makes us feel grounded. Nature is the home of simplicity.”

“Lavenham Green” available in 8 x 10” and 11 x 14”

Sophia also helped connect me to the Toronto-based print company that I now exclusively use to print my paintings called Posterjack. Posterjack not only produces high quality prints on 308 GSM 100% cotton Hahnemuehle Photo Rag using the giclee method, but they are sustainably-minded and use water based non-toxic inks printed on FSC certified photo paper.

I am honoured to announce that two of my prints are now available to purchase in the Lemontree + Co. shop: “Lavenham Green” and “Grey Skies.”

“Grey Skies”

The fulfilling part of creating and selling art is the rush that comes from people appreciating your work, but also the joy felt when the painting becomes a part of a home’s story. I can’t wait to see how these prints weave their way into your story.

“Grey Skies” available in 8 x 8” and 12 x 12”

A new creative venture: Digital Art Prints

Vintage Inspired Art Prints and Contemporary Modern Art Prints

You may be wondering what a digital painting is? What do I mean when I say that I created a digital art painting? Digital painting is the process of painting on a tablet, a smart phone or a computer. This is done through painting software that recreates the experience of paint brushes, pens, pencils, and paint on paper. An Apple Pencil, stylus or simply a finger can be used to draw, sketch or paint on a touch screen.

I use a program called Procreate on my iPad to “paint” and I love that I can create anywhere: out in the farm fields, sitting by our pond, waiting in the car or curled up in bed. I can pick up my iPad at any time of the day and come back to a piece that I am working on to gain a fresh perspective without having to clean up a mess.

On the surface, creating art on a computer seems so very contrary to my natural ink adventures. Yet, if you think outside the box a little bit, transposing my daily walks in the fields into abstract landscapes without using any art supplies other than my ipad does fit into my passion for reducing my ecological footprint. And while no visual art is innately sustainable, creating digital art and then printing with an eco-friendly company is consistent with my values. I chose a local Canadian company called PosterJack to print my paintings using water based non-toxic inks printed on FSC certified fine-art photo rag.

When I first starting creating digital art, my vision was to recreate vintage landscapes. There is no end to my inspiration as I am surrounded by fields and streams and rolling hills.

my studio is surrounded by farm fields

I added both a craquelure and a canvas effect on these vintage-inspired landscape paintings to recreate an antique look.

The landscapes then led to a vintage-inspired still life painting of a pear and a portrait of my daughter.

I applied both a craquelure and a canvas effect on this vintage-inspired
portrait of my daughter.

I also combined my love of clouds, bodies of water and fields to create a more modern abstract collection. Each of these pieces have a lovely canvas texture that is smooth to the touch but a visual treat for the eyes.

All of these pieces are available to purchase in various sizes in my Etsy shop and I currently have 3 paintings available for purchase through Shop Hacienda

How to make natural ink from Sumac

A natural ink Sumac recipe for the in-between time of spring.

It is that time of year where the snow is melting and hints of green life are starting to appear, but plants that provide us with ink are in low supply. This is when the long-suffering Sumac can provide us with a pop of colour.

Sumac grows in abundance; the berries and leaves are high in tannins and they can be used for ink all year round. Tannins are a group of chemicals that are pale-yellow to light-brown that are found in plant cells, especially in leaves, bark and fruit. Tannins discourage fruit-eating animals from eating the fruit until the seeds are mature and ready for dispersal. As the fruit ripens, the tannin content lessens. The tannins in sumac berries and leaves help create durable, long lasting colours.
Sumac berries also store well. The berries can be harvested in the summer when they are ripe and then stored indefinitely in paper bags. Always remember to leave the area where you forage as untouched as possible and to leave ample berries behind, as Sumac serves primarily as a winter emergency food for wildlife.

A few notes about this recipe. Water or vinegar can be used as a base of this ink but I have used vinegar to help intensify the colour. Please refer to my previous blog post if you have questions about alum, gum arabic or how to preserve your ink https://melissamaryjenkins.com/2020/06/05/answering-your-questions-about-natural-inks/ .

Ingredients:

3 cups cleaning vinegar (vinegar intensifies the colour)

3 cups fresh sumac berries and leaves (use your hands to remove the berries from the stems)

2 tsp alum

1 tsp gum Arabic powder

1 clove

Materials: *keep these materials ONLY for making inks *

stainless steel or glass (these are nonreactive materials) pot, lid, bowl, jar, stirring spoon and fork

fine mesh strainer

cheese cloth (enough to line the strainer)

rubber gloves

glass jar with tight fitting lid

small funnel

Directions:

-simmer the berries in vinegar and alum, stirring as needed until you reach the desired colour (about ½ an hour) be sure to keep the

*ensure that you are in a well-ventilated area and keep a lid on the pot to avoid breathing in the fumes.

-turn off the heat and leave overnight (not necessary but may help form a darker color)

-line the strainer with cheesecloth and place over the bowl

-pour the berries and ink into the fine mesh strainer and allow the ink to drain

-using your rubber gloves, gather the cheese cloth around the berries and squeeze out any excess ink

-dispose of the strained sumac and wash out the cheesecloth

-place the filter in the lid of a glass jar and line the filter with the cheesecloth

-pour the ink into the filter (repeat if necessary to remove any little bits of plant matter)

-whisk in gum Arabic a little at a time with a fork until dissolved

*if it is not dissolving, heat the ink again but don’t bring to a boil*

-when cool, add in a clove

-make sure that there is no air space inside the bottle (to help prevent mold growth)

-secure the lid and refrigerate to help preserve

-shake before use

* the pink sumac ink dries to a brownish pink colour on watercolour paper and remains peachy/pink on natural fabrics/paper

NOTES

Alum acts a mordant

Gum Arabic thickens, helps with controlling ink flow, binds the ink to the paper and helps preserve

adding a Clove helps to prevents mold

How to Make Green Ink with Grass and Water

How to make green ink with two simple ingredients: grass and water.

I set out to write this blog post before the snow settles on the ground here in Canada. We did experience our first snowflakes of the year last night, so I finally felt “the push” to post this recipe. I first heard about transforming grass into ink when I watched an online Zoom lecture by Marjorie Morgan. Marjorie is a natural ink maker, artist, printmaker and environmentalist. I highly recommend watching this workshop if you are interested in learning more about Natural Inks. Making Ink with Natural Materials Zoom Lecture/Demonstration for Greenfield Community College on 9/23/20!

Making Ink with Natural Materials by Marjorie Morgan

Now let’s talk a bit about what makes grass green. To break it down simply, grass leaves collect energy from sunlight through photosynthesis. The photosynthesizing chlorophyll in the leaf gives grass its green color. The grass ink recipe that I will share with you today creates a vibrant green ink that is such a beautiful and simple way to begin your natural ink journey.

Ingredients and Materials:

fresh grass

water

a blender (I use a Magic Bullet that I keep for ink-making only)

a funnel and coffee filter or a panty hose sock or a piece of cheesecloth/fabric and an elastic

a glass jar with a lid

a spoon or fork

paper (try different types i.e. watercolour paper and/or natural paper)

brush and/or eye dropper

a rag

pencil/pen and label

clove (optional)

Instructions:

-Grab 2 handfuls of fresh grass.

-Put the grass in your blender and add a little bit of water.

-Turn your blender on and blend until you get a rich green liquid. If the grass is struggling to blend, you may need to stir it up and blend more or add a little bit more water (it will smell like a freshly mowed lawn).

-Cover a glass jar with a filter of your choice: a funnel and coffee filter, a panty hose sock or a piece of cheesecloth/fabric secured with an elastic.

-Pour the ink into the glass jar through the filter.

-Using a paint brush, your fingers or an eye dropper, experiment with your new green ink on paper. You may wish to spray water onto your paper and then add drops of the ink and watch the ink travel into and across the water.

-When you are finished painting with the ink, label the glass jar, put the lid on and refrigerate.

The ink makes a rich dark green (that darkens as it dries) and lasts surprisingly long. Keep out of direct sunlight to prolong the colour on paper. You may wish to add a clove to your jar to help preserve the ink.

INKPRINTS of time: A Serendipitous Collaboration

trusting the unforeseen

Late January, a friend and I drove a few towns over to visit the lovely little village of Elora. The shop of LemonTree Interiors & Co was first on our list to visit. As we were parking, I recognized Sophia from her Instagram account. You need to understand that Sophia is a bit of a design “rock star” to me, so I was a tad nervous to introduce myself. I noticed that she was getting boxes out of her car, so I pulled up my “big girl” pants and asked if she was indeed Sophia of LemonTree Interiors and if she needed some help. Sophia gracefully embraced my fan-girl approach and welcomed us into her quaint little shop.

As we entered, I was swept away by the elegant curation of vintage, sustainable and modern decor. Naturally, I began chatting about a new stamping ink that I was working on and then Sophia got a twinkle in her eye and reached into a drawer. She pulled out gorgeous teak stamps that had been hand carved in India and said that she had been waiting for “just the right moment” to unearth the stamps.

I left the shop that day with a few decor treats for myself, a bag full of teak stamps and a sense of excitement for our serendipitous art collaboration which we would later name INKPRINTS of time.

Let me tell you a bit about my process in creating these pieces. Crafting my stamping ink from lampblack soot is a slow and intensive process, but it never fails to reward me with a rich, velvety black. I add in a few other secret ingredients to ultimately form a vegan, sustainably sourced and archival ink. When I paint the ink onto the antique stamps it creates pure “black” magic.

The paper is created by Canadian based company Papeterie Saint Armand. It is a flax/cotton canal paper fashioned from left over straw that is not composted in farm fields. This rough paper is made by mixing the beaten straw with rags. No bleach, chemicals or cooking is required. I hand-deckled the edges to create an unpolished juxtaposition with the black frame.

Inkprints of Time speaks of trusting the process. This series honors the idea that concepts can simmer until “the moment” arrives. For both Sophia and I, the moment arose with a serendipitous encounter that developed into these ink-prints that embrace time honoured traditions and pay homage to slow artisanal process.

To purchase these 14” x 14” framed pieces as either a set or as individual pieces, head over to LemonTree Interiors & Co where you will be delighted and inspired.

Answering your questions about Natural Inks

natural inks Q&A

acorn, wild grape and avocado ink

A few months ago, in the heart of Covid lockdown, I did an Instagram Live with Paige of @distillingnature . We answered your burning questions about creating and painting with natural inks, and I decided to post my answers for those of you who missed it.

My foraging kit

I’d love to know what to forage for in the different seasons.

What a fabulous question! Perhaps this can be an on going book-project for me! I would pick up a field guide for your region from your local library, bookstore, or online, and study up on regional flora. If you are from Ontario, Canada, I post my journey with foraging flowers and berries during the different seasons. For instance, Coltsfoot flowers are emerging now and make a lovely lime/yellow ink. I also consult a plant identification APP called “Picture This” to help identify plants and determine the toxicity of plants that I discover.

Coltsfoot flowers in early spring

What are the rules for foraging?

A common rule for ethical foraging is to collect 1/10 to 1/3 of any particular patch. Also, consider the life cycle of the plant. For example, snipping an elder tree of all those lovely white blossoms in spring will mean no berries come fall. Only harvest what you truly need. Exercising restraint is sometimes difficult, but it is a key trait of an ethical forager. I keep a foraging kit in my car that includes hiking shoes, a pair of garden gloves, shears and a basket or a bag and a pencil and a journal to take notes. If you are concerned about trespassing, it always feels better to ask permission. I have had so many interesting discussions about making ink this way. And people are generally helpful and interested in the idea of making ink from natural materials.

Jewelweed flowers

Where do you get your material?

  • I find all my cooking materials (pots, pans, spoons, strainers) second hand and keep them separate from my everyday kitchen materials.
  • I forage for most of my botanical supplies from my property or local roadsides. I make a lot of ink from avocado shells and pits that my family has eaten and from a local café. I create rooibos ink from organic rooibos tea that I have sent to me.
  • I have purchased the gum arabic and alum from Amazon but I am looking to support local art businesses going forward.
  • I purchase baking soda, cleaning vinegar and distilled water from my local grocery stores.
  • I purchase the bottles from a local business Botanic Planet who ship to the US and Canada and have a pick up option.

How do you store your natural inks before and after they are made?

I store walnuts, pine cones, acorns and sumac in labelled paper bags in my studio. DO NOT LEAVE FORAGED PLANTS IN PLASTIC BAGS because mold sets in pretty quickly. I freeze berries, avocado pits/shells, sunflower seeds and grapes until I need them. I also freeze flowers. After the inks are created, I store them in the fridge.

How do we stop inks from getting moldy?

I preserve my inks with 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol if I am selling them, but you can also use different purity levels of alcohol (ie. 60%) or preserve with a clove, a few drops of wintergreen oil or thyme oil. It is also important to store your inks in a refrigerator (labelled so that you or your family don’t ingest the inks accidentally).

Are there alternatives to Gum Arabic?

Gum Arabic thickens, helps with controlling ink flow, binds the ink to the paper and helps preserve. Gum arabic is sometimes called acacia gum or acacia powder and it is made from the natural hardened sap of two types of wild Acacia trees in the Sahara region of Africa. Gum arabic comes in a liquid or powder form. The liquid is easier to work with and ensures that the gum arabic is evenly distributed in your ink, but it is consequently more expensive. 

  • A possible alternative to gum Arabic is aquafaba. Aquafaba is the cooking liquid found in tinned beans and other legumes like chickpeas or the liquid left over from cooking your own. It can be used to replace egg whites in many sweet and savoury recipes. Its unique mix of starches, proteins, fibre and sugars, which are left in the water after cooking, gives aquafaba a wide range of emulsifying, foaming, binding and thickening properties.
  • Another possible alternative to gum arabic is the grapevine,Vitis riparia, or frost/riverbank grape and is found throughout North America. The sap from the grapevine’s stem resembles that of gum arabic. The polysaccharide from the grapevine’s stem may be made into a white powder, viscous liquid or clear gel.
Ink making supplies

Are there different alum qualities. How does it matter and how can I know if it’s a good quality?

The specific compound In alum is hydrated potassium aluminium sulfate. Alum can sometimes be found in your local supermarket, as it is often used in canning and preserving. As for different alum qualities, I don’t have an answer, but I would like to find a more “natural” substitution for alum.

Alum is also regarded as the safest of the common mordants, but you should still take precautions.

Always remember:

  • Never use the same pots and utensils for dyeing that you use for cooking.
  • Wear rubber gloves and use a face mask when measuring mordants and dyes.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Dispose of used mordants and dye baths safely.

Is soda ash safe?

I use a small amount of soda ash in my avocado shell and pit inks. It acts as an alkali mordant to help bring out a more vibrant colour. You can make your own by heating heat baking soda in a 200°F oven for an hour. Soda ash is the term used to describe sodium carbonate. This sodium salt, a derivative of carbonic acid, is a common ingredient used to manufacture paper, powdered soaps and glass. Its purpose is to raise the alkaline level. Soda ash is also used to elevate total alkaline levels and soften the water found in swimming pools and spas by slightly raising the pH levels in the water. When using soda ash to make inks, it is important that you wear gloves, turn on your kitchen vent fan (or open a window), and cover the cooking ink to avoid breathing in the fumes. Here are a few safety tips:

  • Wear protective gloves when working with or disposing of soda ash to prevent skin irritation.
  • Be careful not to let soda ash splash into your eyes to avoid eye irritation.
  • Refrain from breathing in soda ash dust, vapors or mist to avoid irritation of the respiratory tract. Consider wearing a protective breathing mask.
art tools

I keep getting a watercolour type liquid no matter how much material or how much I reduce it.

If you are looking to thicken an ink, you can add more gum arabic. It can be a bit time consuming to whisk in gum arabic powder but I have a few tips.  I like to heat the ink up before slowly sifting in the gum arabic. I also have used a mini food blender to quickly mix in the gum arabic and then I filter the ink to separate out the bubbles formed. You can also try using a gum arabic syrup:

Directions to make Gum Arabic Syrup:

TIME: 2-3 hours

-heat ¼ cup of distilled water in a small pot to a near-boil (about 3 minutes)

-measure out 4 Tbsp of gum arabic powder in a small glass jar and slowly stir in the water. Continue to stir until all of the powder is integrated (you may have some small white clumps).

-let the mixture sit for 2 to 3 hours.

-when the mixture appears more like a gel, stir again to smooth out the mixture. (It is ok if there is a small layer of white foam.)

-skim off small clumps or foam. When not in use, store in the refrigerator for up to 5 months.

How do I get the ink to bleed like normal ink?

I would say that you can experiment with many elements to try and get the ink to the right consistency for your needs. The amount of gum arabic can be a factor with how the paper absorbs the ink, as well as the type of paper used. You can also add water to the paper and observe how the ink moves or absorbs the water.

choke cherry ink

How colourfast are natural inks? What do they look like after years?

First of all, the only ink that I can guarantee to remain permanent is black ink created from lampblack. Second, I always recommend that paintings created with natural inks be kept out of direct sunlight. And finally, I like to transform the question into a reframing of our goals of “permanence”. I like to refer to artwork painted with natural inks as “living works of art.” The potential for colours to change over time can be reframed as following a pattern of the natural world which holds a sort of excitement in and of itself. But I also understand the concern for both artists and customers to feel secure that the artwork that they sell or purchase maintain its colour integrity. I also have a hunch that inks made with modifiers (ie baking soda and vinegar) are more likely to change colour overtime. I am fairly confident in the colour-fastness of inks made from items with strong tannins. Tannins are found commonly in the bark of trees, wood, leaves, buds, stems, fruits, seeds, roots, and plant galls. In all of these plant structures, tannins help to protect the individual plant species. (As an aside, unripened fruits are high in tannin content. The high tannin content discourages fruit eating animals from consuming the fruit until the seeds are mature and ready for dispersal. As the fruit ripens the tannin content lessens.) Inks made from avocado, walnut, sumac and oak galls are all rather lightfast because they contain large amount of tannins. I have found that the yellow vibrancy remains from ink made from goldenrod and alum and ink made from riverbank grapes remains vibrant as well.

A “non toxic” sealing product that I use called SpectraFix can help against fading and they hope to offer a specific varnish with UV blocking properties in the future. It seals soft/oil pastel, chalk, watercolour, charcoal and my black lampblack ink without the nasty smells from an aerosol spray. They recommend two coats and about three minutes in between coats. It curls the watercolour paper but I then flatten the paper by spraying a light spray of water on the back of the painting and then placing it between heavy books.
I recently discovered and ordered a Natural Varnish from Natural Earth Paint and I am excited to try out this product on canvas and wood surfaces.
You may also want to invest in framing your artwork with UV-filtering glass that can be found in framing stores and most importantly, do not hang artwork in direct sunlight.

ink kit

r e s o n a n c e

a minimal, black & white abstract art series created from handcrafted black ink

“The sound was rich, wild and resonant.”

This line from Hazel Prior’s novel Ellie and the Harp Maker sparked in me an entire series of paintings.

The rich part of this series is the black ink that I handcrafted from creating my own lampblack. Lampblack is a black pigment made from soot. Using this black pigment, I composed a recipe to form a rich, black archival ink that is a delight to watch flow across the page.

The “resonance” series is built around the concept of resonance.

lexico.com defines resonance as:

  • The quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating.
  • The power to evoke enduring images, memories, and emotions.

“The sound was rich, wild and resonant” resonated or struck a chord with me because sound and music is such an integral part of my process. I listen to “flowing” music that reminds me of water as I spread the ink on the paper. Fluidity of my mind and body is essential to ensuring that the thread that I lay down doesn’t appear jagged. When I add in the many tiny marks, I listen to folk music and add the marks to the beat of the songs. This helps me to enjoy the tedious task and, in a way, become a part of the rhythm of the painting.

I also resonate with the wild aspect of this line from Prior’s novel. Being outside in the wild completes my soul. Another line from Ellie and the Harp Maker that I resonated with is: “A walk in the wilds is what I need.” It is as though the “wild” speaks to me through the sound of the wind through the trees saying: “you are complete.” So much so, that my paintings reflect the wilds around my studio. As I lay down the ink, I envision the rolling hills and the trees that dot the horizon as marks on the page. The lines of thread are the paths I take through the hills and forests as I resonate in the wild.

It is my hope that this new series that I have entitled RESONANCE urges you to quietly reflect on “small truths”:

“The kinds of truth that art gives us many, many times are small truths. They don’t have the resonance of an encyclical from the Pope stating an eternal truth, but they partake of the quality of eternity. There is a sort of timeless delight in them.” -Seamus Heaney

May this artwork compel you to “partake of the quality of eternity.” May it help to quench that space in our souls that can’t be captured, like a glorious yet fleeting sunset. May it help you capture that magical emotion that we wish to enclose with our hands and hide in our hearts. And may you be inspired to discover the wilds of your world.

The “resonance” series will be released in my Etsy shop Wednesday, May 27 at 12 pm EST. Use the coupon code RESONANCE to receive a 10% discount.

capturing the promise of spring

how to make homemade ink from spring flowers

I am deeply grateful that the process of making natural inks compels me to NOTICE my natural surroundings. Last year was the first time that I noticed coltsfoot flowers along the side of the road. From a distance, coltsfoot flowers resemble dandelions and they generally grow in dry gravelly habitats such as roadsides. In Southern Ontario, coltsfoot flowers appear in April, often before the last of the snow melts. Flower heads have even been known to push through snow. Coltsfoot is a perennial weed native to Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia. Coltsfoot was probably introduced from its native range to the United States by early European settlers for its medicinal properties. It was present in the United States as early as 1840 and present in Canada in the 1920s. *FEIS

The experience of picking coltsfoot flowers is so very intoxicating. The earthy smells of the soil, the gleeful songs of the birds and the visceral feel of life in your hands overwhelms the senses. I like to think of coltsfoot ink as capturing the promise of spring.

If you would like to capture the essence of spring in your artwork, the following recipe will create a spring minty-yellow.

A few notes about the ingredients:

You may not have distilled water, but you can still experiment with tap water, and then when you can get your hands-on distilled water, you can compare colour outcomes.

Potassium Aluminum Sulfate (Alum) is a metallic salt that acts as a mordant. In my experience, alum helps to make yellow inks more vibrant. There is controversy over the use of alum in the natural dye world, and when I dye fabric, I use soya milk as a mordant as recommended by Rebecca Desnos. There is no information available on the toxic nature of alum when creating natural inks, so I have justified my use of alum by taking special care when using alum to make coltsfoot and goldenrod ink. I welcome any advice or kind words about the potential toxic use of alum.

If you don’t have any alum on hand, it is easily purchased in a grocery store. Alum is generally considered the least toxic, or even a non-toxic mordant because it has long been used an additive to both foods and drinking water. However, it does form weak sulfuric acid when dissolved in water. When the water is heated (during the mordant process), this can result in acidic fumes which are corrosive, and irritating when inhaled. Always keep a lid on a hot mordant bath. Moisture from bare skin can cause more concentrated sulfuric acid to form on contact and cause chemical burns. Always wear gloves when handling mordants. Not only may some chemicals cause irritation, but skin is also porous and can absorb chemicals if not protected. Have a set of utensils and cooking materials for ink making only. Potassium aluminum sulfate is also corrosive to many metals. *alpenglowyarn

White Vinegar is a natural mordant that helps the color last longer. I use a cleaning vinegar that is 10% Acetic Acid (double that of regular white vinegar).

Gum Arabic thickens, helps with controlling ink flow, binds the ink to the paper and helps preserve. Gum Arabic is sometimes called acacia gum or acacia powder and it is a vegan substance made from the natural hardened sap of two types of wild Acacia trees. You probably won’t have gum Arabic powder lying around, but if you are a watercolour artist, you may have a bottle of liquid gum Arabic. Either way, you don’t need to have gum Arabic to create coltsfoot flower ink and you can just skip that part of the recipe. Also, there is no absolute rule for exactly how much gum Arabic to add to ink. You can test different amounts with test strips to figure out what amount works for you.

If you don’t have any gum Arabic, you can also use Grass-fed gelatin. In a small pan over medium heat, heat 1 cup water, and 2 tsp. gelatin. Stir over heat until completely dissolved. Add 1 tsp. of the gelatin solution to your ink at a time, until your ink reaches desired consistency and thickness. For a vegan alternative, experiment using agar agar.

Raw unfiltered honey- This can be added straight to the ink until it reaches the consistency that you are looking for. Too much and it can get too sticky! *The Hippy Homemaker

If you don’t have 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol, you can also use different purity levels (ie. 60%) or preserve with a clove, or a few drops of wintergreen oil or thyme oil. If you have none of these ingredients on hand, just be sure to refrigerate the ink and take notes on how early mold appears on the ink.

Coltsfoot Flower Ink Recipe

Ingredients:

3 cups of distilled water

3 cups of fresh coltsfoot flowers

3 tsp cleaning vinegar (I use Allen’s Double Strength Cleaning Vinegar)

2 tsp alum

1 1/2 tsp gum Arabic

8-10 drops of 99.9% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol

Materials: *keep these materials ONLY for making inks*

rubber gloves

stainless steel or glass pot, bowl, 2 jars (make sure that one has a lid)

stirring spoon and fork

fine mesh strainer

measuring spoons

coffee filter and small funnel OR panty hose sock (you can wash and reuse) OR a piece of cheesecloth or fabric and an elastic

dropper (not necessary)

Directions:

-simmer the coltsfoot flowers, water, vinegar and alum for about 20 to 30 minutes (I leave the flowers to soak overnight).

-strain the flowers into a bowl with a fine mesh strainer

-strain the ink again into a jar using a coffee filter and a small funnel OR to create less waste, stretch a panty hose sock over the jar and strain OR stretch cheesecloth or fabric over the jar and secure with an elastic (strain again if you wish into the second jar)

*you can wash and reuse the panty hose, cheesecloth or fabric*

-to add in the powdered gum Arabic, heat up the ink again but don’t bring to a boil (you can use a microwave). Whisk the powder into the heated ink a little at a time with a fork until dissolved. I have also used a blender to quickly mix in the powder.

-when cool, add 8-10 drops of alcohol per 1-ounce bottle of ink, OR add a clove, OR add a few drops of wintergreen oil or thyme oil)

-if possible, make sure that there is no air space inside the bottle (to help prevent mold growth)

-secure the lid and refrigerate to help preserve (shake before use)

NOTES

Alum and Vinegar natural mordants to help the color last longer and stay

Gum Arabic thickens, helps with controlling ink flow, binds the ink to the paper and helps preserve.

Alcohol prevents mold

A few final tips:

It can be helpful to make ink samples during the slow process of creating inks. I use scrap pieces of watercolour paper, but just use whatever paper that you have available. Be sure to write down the time and other details (I have learned the hard way by thinking that I will remember).

Experiment with how light-fast coltsfoot ink is by leaving your samples and paintings in a sunny window.

I look forward to viewing your coltsfoot ink adventures using my hashtag #natureswildink or send me a photo at melissajenkins@live.ca

You can purchase a 1-ounce bottle of coltsfolt ink in my Etsy shop

DIY Paint using two simple ingredients without leaving home

how to make ink with tea using 2 ingredients in your kitchen

Hi there! As a natural ink maker and abstract artist, I am excited to share a recipe for those looking to dive into the world of natural inks or looking to be creative with simple ingredients and materials without leaving home.

First of all, without journeying too far into the technical differences between paint and ink, I made use of the word “paint” in the title of this post to help reach more people looking to create from home. But for the remainder of this post, I will refer to the “paint” created from tea as INK.

I adapted this recipe from a blog post entitled “Natural Plant Inks” by Jyotsna Pippal, a scientist, an artist and a maker of sustainable and non toxic watercolours. Jyotsna sells her Artisanal Handcrafted Watercolors in her Etsy shop LostinColours.

A few notes about the ingredients:

You may not have distilled water on hand, but you can still experiment with tap water, and then when you find distilled water, you can compare colour outcomes.

You can experiment with different types of tea and their colour outcomes. I used orange pekoe tea for this particular dark brown colour in the photos, but rooibos tea will create a more orange colour.

Gum Arabic thickens, helps with controlling ink flow, binds the ink to the paper and helps preserve. Gum Arabic is sometimes called acacia gum or acacia powder and it is made from the natural hardened sap of two types of wild Acacia trees. You probably won’t have gum Arabic powder lying around, but if you are a watercolour artist, you may have a bottle of liquid gum Arabic. Either way, you don’t need to have gum Arabic to paint with tea ink and you can just skip that part of the recipe. Also, there is no absolute rule for exactly how much gum Arabic to add to ink. You can test different amounts with test strips to figure out what amount works for you.

If you don’t have 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol, you can also use different purity levels (ie. 60%) or preserve with a clove, or a few drops of wintergreen oil or thyme oil.

Tea Ink Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup distilled water (regular tap water is fine too)

1 tbsp loose tea (or two tea bags)

½ tbsp of baking soda

½ tsp gum Arabic (not necessary)

8-10 drops of 99.9% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol (not necessary)

Materials:

stainless steel or glass (these are nonreactive materials) pot, bowl, 2 jars (make sure that one has a lid), stirring spoon and fork

measuring spoons

coffee filter and small funnel OR panty-hose sock (you can wash and reuse) OR a piece of cheesecloth or fabric and an elastic

dropper (not necessary)

Directions:

-steep tea in boiling water for about 20 minutes

-strain the tea into a jar using a coffee filter and a small funnel OR to create less waste, stretch a panty hose sock over the jar and strain OR stretch cheesecloth or fabric over the jar and secure with an elastic (strain again if you wish into the second jar)

-stir in the baking soda and boil the tea in your pot for a few minutes

-pour the tea into a jar again and whisk in gum Arabic, a little at a time, with a fork until dissolved (if it is not dissolving, heat the ink again but don’t bring to a boil) *you can skip this step if you don’t have gum Arabic powder on hand*

-when cool, add 8-10 drops of alcohol per 1-ounce bottle of ink , OR add a clove, OR add a few drops of wintergreen oil or thyme oil *if you don’t have these items on hand, just be sure to keep cool in the refrigerator*

-secure the lid on your jar, label the name/date on the jar and refrigerate to help preserve (tea tends to go moldy)

-shake before use

NOTES

Gum Arabic thickens, helps with controlling ink flow, binds the ink to the paper and helps preserve

Alcohol helps to prevent mold

A few final tips:

  • It can be helpful to make ink samples during the slow process of creating inks. I use scrap pieces of watercolour paper, but just use whatever paper that you have available. Be sure to write down the time and other details (I have learned the hard way by thinking that I will remember).
  • This recipe helps you extend the life of the ink with preservation ingredients, but if mold does appear in the tea ink, simply scoop it off.
  • Experiment with the light-fast nature of tea ink by leaving your samples in a sunny windowsill (be sure to label the date).
  • Be sure to label the jar and to keep out of the reach of children or pets.

You may wish to refer to my blog post entitled How to Paint with Natural Inks: Part 1 where I give suggestions as to how to paint with ink. A few tools or supplies that may come in handy are rags, lids or bottle caps, paint brushes, a dropper, a palette knife, a spray bottle of water and even your fingers.

I look forward to viewing your tea ink adventures using my hashtag #natureswildink or send me a photo at melissajenkins@live.ca