Monday, April 15, 2013

Making Your Own Quill Pen and Black Walnut Ink

Have you ever wondered how ink was make in the past? What did we do before ink pens, etc? 

This tutorial will explain how to make a quill ink pen and the ink to go along with it.

Quill Pen

  • A medium-sized feather (roughly 6-8 inches long, preferably from a turkey)
  • A  knife
  1. Cut each side of the feather (only the tips)*

*When cutting it, try to make the sides even so they come down to an even point.

Next, it's time to make the ink. For this we are going to use the shells of Black Walnuts, but be careful, the process is VERY messy!

Black Walnut Ink

  • 8 whole empty black walnut shells (crushed)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½  teaspoon vinegar
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • A paper bag
  • A hammer
  • A small saucepan
  • A measuring cup
  • A cheesecloth
  • An empty jar with a cover (needs to be clean) 
  1. Put shells between pieces of heavy cloth or in paper bag,then place bag on the ground and hit with hammer to break into small pieces.
  2. Place broken walnut shells and 1 cup of water in saucepan
  3. Bring the water to a boil. 
  4. Simmer on low heat for a half hour or until water changes to dark brown color.
  5. After mixture cools, pour through strainer, cheese cloth or paper towel into cup or jar. 
  6. Stir in ½  teaspoon vinegar. This will help to preserve the color and keep it from fading
  7. Add ½  teaspoon salt. This will help to keep the ink from turning moldy. 
  8. Pour the ink into a small jar or cup. Be sure the cap the storage container when not in use.

Using Your Pen and Ink Set

To use the quill pen and ink, simply dip the tip of the pen in the ink and begin writing. The feather/quill, which is hollow, will fill with your ink and be ready for use. Try to fight the urge to dip a lot of the tip into the ink well (cup or container). When your pen "runs out", just dip it again and continue to use. When you are done writing , wipe the pen off to keep it clean for future uses.
Now that you've made ink, try making ink with different bark, roots, berries, or other nut shells utilizing the above technique!. 


  1. Cool idea. Now I need to go out back and get some walnuts and find a feather. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hey!

    Is it okay if i borrow your image, with the ink pen, and use it on a poster?

    1. Sorry for the late reply! The image is in common media, so I don;t own the copyright.