Hello and welcome to my first stab at the auld blogging

By way of a brief introduction, I am Annie. I am an ink maker, based in the Irish countryside.

I make botanical based drawing inks, facilitate workshops and talks and try to eek out time in which to conduct my own art practice, which firmly rotates around the use of the colours that I create.

Predominantly, however, I identify as a maker. My interest, well lets be frank here, my obsession with ink making comes from a few sources, which can best be described as a tangled ball of geekiness and stubbornness.

In the home where I was raised, there was a way of doing things. That way was simply- if you want a thing, first try making it yourself, if that fails, ask someone to help you, and if that fails then we (my folks), will look into buying it for you. This was borne of firstly being raised in economically scoured Ireland of the 1980’s and secondly of being the only child to two prolific makers/crafters/experimenters themselves.

It was a valuable environment for a hyper child, and I’m sure that setting me to work on some new imaginative excursion gave my folks the time and head space for their own endeavours.

My deep love of the land and her residents is another reason for my current path. I am happiest outside, whatever the weather, getting the smells, noting the changing vegetation and keeping record in my head of what is where so as I can come back to harvest when the time is right. Hearing the rustling in the undergrowth of animals and wild things, bird calls and chatter overhead, all of these things set my heart alight and calm my mind.

Thirdly, and finally, the search and acquisition of colour from plants excites me. All of the possibilities such as which parts of a plant, when to harvest, and the subsequent trial and error of adding to, tweaking and extensively exploring the results feeds my mind and my imagination. Each time I set up a new colour extraction, invariably I am led on another journey of what will happen if I add this, or change the temperature etc. Note keeping of these experiments is crucial to my practice. These notes are messy to others eyes, but I know them inside out, and they have become friends over time.

Another area where my interests lie, is the colour and techniques used in the stone age and bronze age. To be honest with you, I have no clue where this direction comes from, but it is laced with an annoyance.

These pigments, in ordinary excavation conditions, do not survive the passage of time. There in, may lay my fascination! The term that archaeologists use is this “The absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence”, now is that a hook or what?!

In future blogs, I hope to share with you some of the research I have managed to come across from books and papers, which I am currently lapping up. Taking a look at sloe Prunus spinosa berry dye, tormentil Potentilla erecta, bedstraw Galium verum etc., and their uses in, lets call it pre-medieval practices.

I would like to adamantly point out that I have no training what so ever in this field, so if there are any discrepancies, I would love for you to let me know.

Also this is by way of stating, here and now, that anything I transcribe here will be coming from published, respectable sources. I am not going to cite as one would in an academicals paper, but I am happy to share my sources if requested to do so.

I also hope to focus on these blogs as a plant by plant guide, taking into account harvest, history colours and my personal results.

The official trainings that I hold are in Fine Art and Organic Horticulture, but as I have alluded to, my interests travel into the realm of prehistoric practices, global creation myths, poetry and anywhere that science and philosophy meet any of the above. But I am, at best a layperson and at worst, a hopeless dreamer with a fierce imagination.

So, with introductions aside, lets do it! Lets strive on boldly.

Fáilte a charda and may we learn well together!


Part 1 of a  4 part series on Iron Black/Oak Gall Black Ink…
Hello and welcome to my first stab at the auld blogging
Alder-Alnus glutinosa-Fearnóg