Creative Uncommon’s Recipes to Mul Over

You collect as much information as you can and then you put it into the mulberry of your mind and hope that you come up with a decent wine. Sometimes you do; sometimes you don’t.

— John Hurt

Lyceum Mulberry Ice Cream

By the Creative Uncommon 

From your garden plot, your neighbour’s tree or your local greengrocer, collect 4 cups of mulberries. If you can’t find mulberries, it’s okay, experiment with a different berry. The berries we used were harvested from The Lyceum’s plot at Garrison Creek Community Garden. Steeped in the sunshine and collected in the hands of the children, they stained our fingers with their deep purple hues and left a sweet taste on the tongue. We also collected the ones that had fallen to the ground and made ink out of them. That recipe can be found below.

For the ice cream, you will need:

4 cups of mulberries

3 tbsp of icing sugar

2 cups of 35% whipping cream

2 cups of 2% milk

2 tbsp maple syrup

Pinch of salt

Process the lot according to your ice cream maker’s capacity (we did ours in two batches). Dish it into a teacup with a tiny spoon and share it with a friend, sitting in the late afternoon sun.

Mulberry Ink Process

1.Collect mulberries that have fallen to the ground but be sure to leave some for the birds too! We had about 4 cups of berries collected at The Lyceum’s garden plot to which we added an equal quantity of water.

2.Macerate the berries with a potato masher so they release their juices. Put them on the stove with four teaspoons of white vinegar (1 tsp per each cup of vehicle) and a dash or two of table salt. Simmer on low for about two hours while you read this and prepare your materials to bottle your ink:

Here are some inkmaking terms it might be helpful to know:

Vehicle – the liquid in which the colour is suspended (eg. water for fountain pens or paintbrushes, oil for printing and gel for block printing).

Binder – a substance that helps colour molecules bind to the water molecules in the vehicle. Gum Arabic is commonly used and it can be sourced from your local art store. For a more durable ink, consider shellac flakes. Textile dyes, which can be made in this same way often use agar (made from seaweed) or inorgranic oxides (base metals such as copper or iron) to “fix” the colours into the fabrics. In this application the binder is called a mordant. These mordants may also be used to create thicker, shinier inks.

Base Colour Sources – foraged or found objects that can be processed into inks when they release their pigments, either through heat as in this recipe or through contact with a natural acid process (our next ink experiment is a rusted railway spike that has been soaking in vinegar for a month!). Plants, animals, and minerals can all be turned into ink using an array of processes. Jason Logan’s book Make Ink: a Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking is an excellent place to start picking up some techniques.

Additives – these might include a colour stabilizer that increases the permanence or “hold” of a colour, the addition of an acid or base that changes the Ph and as a result, produces a chromatic shift or they may include a preservative such as cloves or thyme oil that acts slows mold  growth. 

3. Use a standard kitchen seize to filter out the plant material,  allowing the liquid to collect in a wide mouthed glass jar. Next, squeeze the mulberry mash again in a cheesecloth bundle with your hands through a funnel into the jar.

4.Return the liquid contents to the heat to evapourate out the water and concentrate the colour. Test your ink regularly by dipping in test strips of watercolour paper until you feel you’ve achieved the desired intensity of hue and correct viscosity.  

5.When you are happy with your ink, let it cool then filter it one last time through a coffee filter inserted into a funnel. Be patient while it drains slowly into a wide-mouthed jar then add a binding agent such as Gum Arabic in a 1:10 ink:Arabic ratio. Bottle the ink in small blue or brown lightproof bottles or store the larger jar in a dark cupboard away from the sun. Be sure you sterilize glass storage bottles first by dropping them for one minute in boiling water and don’t fill your bottles right to the lip. Before you seal them, add a few drops of thyme oil or a couple of whole cloves to prevent mold from forming. Put a pretty handmade label on it and record your ink experiment on a colour chart of your work or use your ink right away to paint a picture or write a letter to a friend far, far away. 

6.Follow us on Instagram @theorchardlyceum to stay in the know about our workshops and classes. Our next series will include making ink from foraged items, paper making, book binding and journaling.