Making Ink from Mushrooms

This is my second Autumn season printing with mushrooms, and last year I made a bit of ink from some Glistening Inkcaps I foraged. I have used it on and off all year, and it’s a lovely earthy blackish-sepia colour. When I revisited my sites this year I gathered another couple of crops. Then I hit the motherload when I found a massive clump of Common Inkcaps, which are about 4 times the size!

Glistening Ink Caps   DSC_3581
Glistening Inkcaps (Coprinellus micaceus) and Common Inkcaps (Coprinopsis atramentaria)

Obviously I make spore prints with them, but once they start to mature they begin to liquefy from the edge of the cap, inwards, until after a couple of days they’re a sloppy black mess. Last year I only took firm, young specimens but now I’m taking ones that are past it, and making lots of lovely ink.

DSC_3611_edited

   Common Inkcaps on paper

You can see from the image of the caps above that the edges are beginning to turn inky, and the print below was made by caps even more liquefied. The centre gills are still capable of making a spore print (the paler, grey parts in the middle), but the outer gills just stick to the paper, and make rather interesting shapes.

ink cap prints3_edited

An example of a sloppy print

Anyway, I process the caps, straining, and condensing it over a week or so, until it reaches the desired consistency. It is something of a smelly job, but it’s well worth it for the beautiful quality of the ink.

ink drawing Magpie Inkcaps   PSX_20151125_234019 (1)
A drawing I did of Magpie Inkcaps (Coprinopsis picacea) and a bottle, each, of Common and Glistening Ink

I’m hoping to get a couple of people’s opinions of how they find drawing with it, and might have enough to sell a few little bottles. I know that it keeps well for at least 12 months, but can’t imagine using as much as I’ve made in a year!

All Images © Lou Bliss 2015

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4 thoughts on “Making Ink from Mushrooms

  1. Hi Lou I wonder if you have researched the ‘permance’ of the ink you have made from spores? Do you think the drawings will fade in time? Do you add anything to add to the permance?
    As you say it is a beautiful material, and I wonder if you have any Inkcap ink for sale as you suggest in your blog? I have not tried to make ink from inkcaps and would like to try some and I have run out of ink I made from earth balls back in the summer.

    Yours Andrew Carnie, Winchester.

    • Hi Andrew – Thanks for your comment, and sorry it’s taken me so long to reply (I’ve had a break from the online world!).

      I gave a friend some ink to test for me, as the drawings I made from it are tucked away in a folder, and he reported that after a few weeks of leaving his drawing in a sunny spot it hadn’t faded at all. I can also add that none of the spore prints I made and framed have faded (mine has been on the wall for over a year, and I’ve also had no complaints from people who’ve bought any!), so I think it’s safe to assume that the spores are pretty stable, and therefore the ink – certainly in the short term.

      The ink is just the processed caps, once they have liquefied, and I don’t add anything to it. Some kind of perfume would be welcome, as they really do reek. I would be happy to send you a bottle of it, just send me your address (loubliss@hotmail.co.uk). I’m afraid I can’t make any guarantees on its permanence, and you will have to supply your own peg (for your nose).

      Best regards, Lou

  2. Hi Lou

    That would be very kind. I am happy to pay though; I can send you a cheque or payby PAYPAl, if you would like send me details.

    I live in Winchester, so my address is 11 City Road, Winchester, SO23 8SD, Hampshire. I teach in teh fine art depaaertment at Winchester School of Art.

    It would be good to try the ink cap ink. The only thing I have done with the works I have made using the ink is to keep them a little in the shade and have used glass that excludes UV light when I framed one of the works earlier in the year.

    There is one image of a work I made on this blog, it is a blog about another set of work I am making, see http://artandsciencethewintertree.blogspot.co.uk/

    Best Andrew

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