As New Year began with days colder and shorter, our Covid restrictions and curfew, a full house and a very significant change in our circumstances looming, I didn’t know where to start with getting back into a studio routine. A bit like that feeling when you’re staring into the fridge when you’re hungry but you don’t know what to eat.
One day after strong winds I was walking the dogs as usual along by the river. The alder cones blown down on the riverbank caught my eye. Such pretty structures, each tiny thing a lovely little object. I always carry a tote bag for gathering wild greens for the rabbits (hey, free bunny food don’t knock it!) so I picked up a bunch of the cones and stuffed them in the bag.
At home, I dug out Make Ink, a book loaned to me by a friend before the first lockdown. There is a recipe for walnut ink, but it suggests trying alder cones as an alternative. I cleaned the cones and put them in a tin, topped it up with water and left the tin on top of the wood burner for a couple of days. The first test wasn’t bad, but I put the tin back on the fire this time with a few rusty nails chucked in and left it overnight.
The next day I strained the ink through a coffee filter. It’s a really beautiful rich velvety brown, and I enjoyed playing with it in my sketchbook.
It was an ideal way to ease myself back into the studio without having a big idea to get my teeth into. It got me doing something again, which then got my momentum going. By generating a little movement I can start a gentle flow that soon picks up the pace. Doing something, anything, will work like a creative laxative!