My Career: I make inks from wild plants

Today in 'My Career' we feature Annie Hogg of The Wild Hedge Ink Co
My Career: I make inks from wild plants

Annie Hogg, wild ink maker

Name: Annie Hogg

Age: 39

Lives: Dunmanway Co. Cork

Job title: Wild Ink maker

Salary bracket: 0-20,000 

Education background: Degree in Fine Art

Hobbies: Currach making and walking with my dog

Describe your job in five words: Making inks from wild plants

Describe yourself in five words: Happily hanging in the hedges

Personality needed for this kind of work? Enquiring.

How long are you doing this job? 1 year, this is my first year of business

How did you get this job? I left art college in the early 2000’s and began traveling and going to wild places, the more untouched the better. When I came back to Ireland ten years ago, I wanted to be doing something of value, so I began a career in organic horticulture, which again, brought me to some interesting places and meeting inspiring people.

I always had a longing to dip my toes back into my art practice, so two years ago, after realising that I wasn’t living in the best way that I could be, I changed everything and decided to try making art my main ‘thing’ again. Through this, I went looking for very particular paint shades and found a small producer in Berlin who was making her own historical paints. Suddenly, my childhood of growing up in a house where yarn was, and still is dyed from the hedgerow plants all came back to me, and so, instead of buying a set from this lady (I did try but she was out of stock!), I thought ‘Right, DIY girl, see what happens”!

And this is what happened! I caught the bug, my long lamentations of how to marry all the threads of things I love together is answered and my art practice, or mark making practice is a call and response to the materials that I am using.

It is a cyclical process, finding the plant, making the ink or paint and then making marks with those materials.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? A lot of what I do is based on growing up with a parent who spins and dyes yarn, but for my own enquiry I devour a lot of books, on both modern and traditional methods and I also took some online courses a couple of years ago.

Just doing it is key though, exploring and accepting that the mistakes are all part of it, and not seeing that time and material as a waste. Like anything really.

Describe a day at work: It depends on what brew I’m working on, it could be keeping an eye on colour leeching slowly from oak galls, or doing some quick experiments with onion skins and different materials that can change their colour. It usually involves opening jars containing rusty nails and some with copper scraps to allow the air in to help with these processes. For the last few months I have been collecting fallen hollyhock flowers each morning and saving them in the ‘ink freezer’. I’m getting close to making an ink with them soon, so that’s very exciting.

Keeping an eye out on what is happening on our daily walks in the woods or through the fields too, to see what is in season and what is in abundance to forage is a daily practice.

The evenings are spent either in the studio, working on pieces which incorporate the hand made inks, or in the workshop, boiling and decanting and bottling.

How many hours do you work a week? 48 plus.

What do you wear to work? As long as I have my apron on I’m at work! It allows me mentally get in work flow, and is like a portal to concentration.

Is your industry male or female dominated? Both I think. In the western ink making set anyway, it seems very balanced.

Does this affect you in any particular way? I love that its balanced, it is a great international and national community anyway.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: 8. But that is because I’m at the early stages of my start up, and doing a lot of figuring out as well as the doing.

Do you work with others or on your own? On my own.

When do you plan to retire or give up working? Hopefully never! I don’t have the personality to retire!

Best bits: Out in the rain, smelling the smells of the hedges.

Worst bits: Being consistently brave enough to keep going, but in truth, that’s kind of a best bit as well.

 Advice to those who want your job? Dive in. Its an incredibly huge area of study.

 Any other comments? My new website will be going live soon, but until then follow me on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/anniehoggillustration/

And check out my Etsy shop for some inks and prints: TheWildHedgeInkCo

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