ThriftCrafting: Witching on a budget

Making Ink

Merry meet.

Growing wild near me are pokeweed bushes with their bright berries that have been ripening for weeks now. Found widely in North America, its poisonous red berries can be used to make ink for magical purposes.


Collect up two cups of berries. Using a strainer to filter out the skins and seeds, mash the berries and collect the juice. Caution: as berries pop, they splatter their purplish-red juice everywhere, and it stains. I recommend wearing latex gloves and keeping wipes handy to catch drips. (Those wipes sold in beauty supply shops for getting hair dye color off of skin got the stains off my hands before I got smart and put on gloves.)


The recipe I found online called for adding one teaspoon of vinegar to the juice and stirring well before bottling. The ink will foam, but the foam will go down. Store out of sunlight.

I found that the ink fermented a bit, causing one bottle to leak and the other to “pop” when I opened it, so I urge you to open yours with caution. I think refrigerating it might keep it from fermenting.

Further research indicated that a similar recipe calling for adding 1/2 teaspoon vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt to 2/3 cup ripe pokeberries was known as the colonial recipe, and that the ink would darken and fade over time, especially in the sun.

That information appeared on a website for the Open-Ink project that tested several recipes and said the ink made from 100 percent berry juice stayed the brightest, but that the ink required refrigeration.

Ink can also be made from huckleberries, raspberries, cherries and black walnut shells. I have made ink by dissolving powdered dragon’s blood into alcohol, and would imagine some powder could be added to any homemade or purchased ink. Pens can be made from feathers, bamboo and reeds. My quill is a simple, clean feather; I used an X-Acto knife to make a small arched cut. More detailed instructions can be found online.


Making the tools you use for writing out a spell makes it all the more powerful because of the added energy you’ve contributed to the process.

Merry part.

And merry meet again…