Rough Science
Explore the Challenges
Solve the Web Challenge
Meet the Rough Scientists
About the TV Series
Discover More
Site Map
Explore the Challenges

The Challenge: Make Paper and Ink

Ellen and Mike making paperHow were the different hues achieved?

To color the inks, we used logwood, indigo, mango and tea. The plants were boiled in tap water and acids and bases were added to change the colors. For example, logwood creates a blood red solution, although it will change to blue in alkaline solutions and to yellow-orange in highly acidic solutions.

We used a range of colored inks on our Rough Science paper. We made brushes out of Ellen's hair and used Acacia seed pods as ink pens.

Web Links

The producers are not responsible for the content of external websites.

Paper on the Hampden-Sydney College, Department of Chemistry site
Handmade Paper on the Exploratorium site
The Prairie Paper Project on the University of Iowa Computer Science site

How to make iron gall ink on the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences site
Recipes for old writing and drawing inks on the Arkansas State University site


Papermaking with Plants: Creative Recipes and Projects Using Herbs, Flowers, Grasses, and Leaves by Helen Hiebert, Storey Publishing 1998; ISBN: 1580170870

Handmade Paper by Maureen Richardson , Apple Press 1999; ISBN: 1840922257

Making Paper by Hand by John Sweetman, pub Wells, Somerset : Wookey Hole Caves Ltd.1977

Dyer's Garden: From Plant to Pot: Growing Dyes for Natural Fibers by Rita Buchanan, pub Interweave Press 1995 ; ISBN: 1883010071

Nature of the Islands: Plants and Animals of the Eastern Caribbean by Virginia Barlow, Cruising Guide Publications 1993; ISBN: 0944428134

General information about tropical plants and their uses: Tropical Forests and Their Crops by Nigel J.H. Smith, J.T. Williams, Donald L. Plucknett and Jennifer P. Talbot, pub Cornell University Press 1992; ISBN: 0801427711(Discusses general groupings of useful plants)

Botany for Gardeners: An Introduction and Guide by Brian Capon, B.T. Batsford 1992; ISBN: 0713472529 (A good general text on how plants function)

A Field Guide to the Families and Genera of Woody Plants of Northwest South America: (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru): With Supplementary Notes) by Alwyn H. Gentry and Adrian B. Forsyth, University of Chicago Press1996; ISBN: 0226289443 (An excellent resource on learning to identify tropical plants in the field/forest)

Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics by Albert Y. Leung and Steven Foster. 1995 John Wiley & Sons Inc; ISBN: 0471508268

Fruits and Vegetables of the Caribbean by M.J.Bourne, G.W. Lennox, and S.A. Seddon, Caribbean Publishing 1988, ISBN: 0333453115

Trees of the Caribbean by S.A. Seddon, Caribbean Publishing 1980 ; ISBN: 0333287932

Nature of the Islands: Plants and Animals of the Eastern Caribbean by Virginia Barlow, Cruising Guide Publications 1993; ISBN: 0944428134 This book has all the plants we used, plus information about the ecology of the area.

A couple of children's books:

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynn Cherry, pub 2000 Voyager Books; ISBN: 0152026142

El Gran Capoquero: UN Cuento De LA Selva Amazonica by Lynn Cherry, translated by Alma Ada, 1994 Harcourt; ISBN: 0152323201