How to Make Your Own Distressed Ink

Things You\’ll Need

  • 12 walnut shells

  • Sock

  • Hammer

  • Saucepan

  • Water

  • Cheesecloth

  • Vinegar

24022609 Walnut ink provides a dark, rich stain finish. Image Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Distressed inks are water-based, and are used to blend and shadow paper to make it appear antique or aged. Commercially prepared distressed inks come in a variety of colors, but if commercial inks are not an option, you can use organic materials to make your own. While it is commonly known that inks can be made from berries, it is not commonly known that distressed ink can be made from walnut shells.

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Step 1

Dust off 12 walnut shells. Put them in a sock. Tie the sock off at the top.

Step 2

Lay the sock on a hard surface, such as a creek rock, to use as an anvil-style foundation.

Step 3

Hammer the walnut shells through the sock until the shells are broken up into small pieces about the size of a quarter.

Step 4

Untie the sock. Pour the walnut shells out into a clean saucepan. Add just enough water to cover the shells.

Step 5

Bring the water and walnut shells to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow the walnut mixture to soak over night.

Step 6

Lay the cheesecloth over a bowl. Pour the walnut shell mixture over the cheesecloth to strain out all of the walnut shells.

Step 7

Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth, making a bundle of walnut shells, and remove the bundle of shells.

Step 8

Add 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar to the strained walnut mixture to set the ink's color. Store ink in a tightly closed container to prevent the ink from drying out.


A clean glass baby food jar makes a good container for storing your prepared ink.

Use a misting bottle to distribute your walnut stain distressed ink on paper for a different effect than brushing it on creates.


This craft project requires hand tools and cooking. Therefore, adult supervision and assistance is necessary.

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