Watercolor came first. Years learning how to observe wetness by degree, to layer transparency, to use a damp brush to soften and lift, to feel color like the thinnest film.
Then came walnuts. Lying in the yard in autumn. Why not use the husks for ink?
Dropping husks into boiling water, it turned black very fast, black and dull. Then the water gained viscosity and luminosity. It was not long before it saturated into a deep brown, golden ink with a lovely draw down. Light fast, but not permanent. Like watercolor. I quickly learned to soften it with a damp brush and lift out highlights. A handsome drawing ink for pen and brush.
The smaller size ink bottle is 1.5 oz. It is amazing how long this will last. I completed ten 11 x 14 detailed, full cover ink drawings and only used half a bottle. I recommend starting with this bottle unless you have an ambitious project in mind.
The larger size bottle is for someone who uses a lot of ink. This might be because they are very productive, or because they use brushes and techniques that paint with the ink over large surfaces or in conjunction with other media. It is also good for someone who wants several smaller bottles in different work areas, or wants to limit the contamination of the ink by other media.
Update on ink making:
Ink from 2012 is a superior clear ink for drawing and painting. It is a perfect ink.
Ink from 2013 is outstanding, a bit darker than 2012. 2013 was a superior year for stain, which I used on wood and over painted surfaces to build up up a unique aged appearance. I will begin to offer stain here soon.
There is no 2014 ink. The entire walnut harvest was destroyed in a hail storm early in the season. I have made ink for my own use since 2009, and I know now that there are ink years, and no-ink years. I have a good supply of ink from both 2012 and 2013, and aside from what I will reserve for my own use, I am happy to share it with other artists and crafts persons. I also use it in classes.