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Buckthorn Fabric Paint Experiment

Common Buckthorn growing in MaineMeet the Common Buckthorn. Here in Maine it’s a highly invasive non-native species that doesn’t even feed the birds with its black berries — after they’re eaten they get spread through an explosive laxative effect. I’m going to try to make use of those berries by producing some buckthorn ink and seeing whether it might work as some kind of fabric paint. My motivation is to find a local, natural substance that isn’t doing anything else in the environment any good and to use it to create something else. Poison ivy pigments are out, so I’m giving buckthorn a try.

There are a lot of buckthorn berries on the edges of the woods where I live, so volume is not a problem. The problem I’ll face is that the buckthorn’s pigments may be fugitive, broken down by light. I don’t want to use heavy metal mordants to fix the pigments, because they would undermine the environmental friendliness of the project.

I’ll try a few things and let you know how it turns out.

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