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Botanical ink 

Pigments are a special group of molecular structures that gives colour to plants. Botanical inks can be made by extracting pigment from fruit and leaves.


The red from anthocyanins and betalains is found in mulberry fruit which become more intense as the berries ripen and change colour from pale pink to a deep burgundy. Berry botanical ink is made by filtering the extracted liquid from the fruit. The result is a rich burgundy-maroon ink.


The green found in mulberry leaves is attributed to chlorophyll. As the seasons change, luscious vibrant green leaves turn to golden yellow as the chlorophyll breaks down due to changes in temperature and light levels. Mulberry leaf botanical ink is made by simmering chopped up leaves and water to create a liquor. The filtered coloured liquor is then evaporated to create an intense and thicker ink. There are lots of different intensities and varieties of colour in this ink depending on the intensity of chlorophyll in the leaves.


Throughout the project, Sara and Jane experimented with making botanical ink from berries and leaves harvested from black and white mulberry trees in Bethnal Green. Together with a group of local residents, they explored the viscosity and colour of the ink through drawing and mark-making online workshop.


Sara, Jane and David have developed a colour spectrum of the black mulberry trees at St Margaret’s House and Victoria Park, by digitally scanning berries, leaves and bark The digital codes can be translated into universal languages of colour across disciplines such as: RAL for painting, coating and plastics; Pantone for dyes and printing; RGB, LAB and Hex in digital applications.

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