Ink made from insects by Evelien Crooy

Dutch Design Week 2013: graphic design graduate Evelien Crooy has made her own ink from insects and used it to screen-print the cover of a book about the creatures.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

Evelien Crooy produced the ink from cochineals - small insects native to tropical and sub-tropical regions including parts of South America, where they live on cacti.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

The bodies of female cochineal have been used for centuries to produce a crimson dye called carmine, which is commonly found in food and cosmetics as a colouring agent.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

Having discovered that the colour was also used by Rembrandt in his painting, The Jewish Bride, Crooy set about researching other products containing cochineal and compiled them in a pocket-sized book.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

"Because I'm not a painter but a graphic designer I wanted to use the colour to silkscreen and develop an ink," Crooy told Dezeen. "I also think there is a dark side to the whole idea of using an insect but I wanted to show her beauty and all the colours she can produce."

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

By mixing the colour with salt and natural acids such as lime, Crooy was able to produce different shades and a consistency that is suitable for silkscreen printing.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

She used the ink to print a cover for her book and plans to produce further experiments including silkscreened posters.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

"Right now it's an expensive material but who knows, maybe it can be used for industry in the future," said Crooy, who recently graduated from Utrecht School of Arts in the Netherlands.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

The project was presented alongside a plastic made from pressed insect shells at the Klokgebouw building in Eindhoven during Dutch Design Week earlier this month.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy

Yesterday we published a story about a book that's printed in squid ink, while other projects using animal parts in new ways include electronic products made of crab shells and goggles made from fish scales.

Insect ink by Evelien Crooy