Have you noticed that there are many more acorns this year? This is because it is a mast year, when woodland trees such as oak and beech produce substantially more fruit than usual.  

We collected our bounty of acorns on Hampstead Heath and decided to try to make some acorn ink with it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the ink:

  • 4 handfuls of acorns (brown ones are preferrable)
  • potato masher
  • 2 tablespoons malt vinegar
  • rusty nails or similar

To paint with:

  • glass jar for storage
  • feather and / or paintbrush
  • watercolour paper

How to make it:

  1. Place the acorns and bring to a boil in 1/2 a litre of water. Turn heat down to simmer and cook until the acorns are soft. Mash with a potato masher to draw out the colour.

  2. Add the malt vinegar and some rusty nails (we couldn’t find any rusty nails we used a piece of an iron railing which seemed to do the trick). Reduce down to increase the intensity of the colour, strain and store in a glass jar.

  3. You can make a quill from a feather, by cutting a nib on a diagonal. This also gives a little chamber to suck the ink into. Or try experimenting with a regular paint brush. You could explain to your child that before pens were invented ink making was a common way to write and mark make. Using ink and quills takes longer than writing with a pen as you have to keep dipping the quill into the ink! Demonstrate by writing your child’s name and enjoy creating acorn ink art together.



About the Author: Paula Woodman

Paula is a Montessori teacher and Forest School Leader who has run the much loved Woodentots Montessori nurseries in North London for over 30 years. Recently recognised as Montessorian of the Year, Paula’s schools offer a unique and rich mix of Montessori, Steiner and Forest School, with child-led creativity at their core.