Creating Your Own Bitcoin Ordinal NFT Project

Bitcoin ordinals are bringing digital collectibles (aka NFTs) to the OG blockchain. What are they are how do you collect and create them?


Unless you've been living under a rock, you may have seen that all of a sudden "Bitcoin NFTs" are all the rage. This is due to a new way of creating digital assets that can be storied directly on the bitcoin blockchain. These are called "Ordinals" or "Inscriptions". Let's talk about what they are, how they work, and how you might want to create them as an artist or project.

the frens ordinal NFT: #42837

These are not your normal NFTs.

Most NFTs are created using a smart contract, in much the same way that tokens are created. In fact because they are created in a similar fashion, they were named "non-fungible" tokens. Effectively, the smart contract would define how they get created (aka "minted"), traded, sent, and overall define any type of transaction that might utilize them. In the Ethereum world, these started wtih ERC-720, and them branched out with new specifications for different types of NFTs. Other chains had similar constructs - often copying from that standard.

Bitcoin ordinals work differently. You can read more about them in the original Ordinals Handbook. To greatly summarize: ordinals are created through the "inscription" process. when you inscribe a new ordinal, you are using units of Bitcoin (aka "sats", 1/100,000,000 of a bitcoin and the smallest possibly fraction you can send). The ordinal will be inscribed on the ledger surrounding those tokens such that it will transfer along with those sats (I heard someone say they often bundle 10k sats together per inscription, but not sure if that's accurate). Now if you send those sats, they will carry the inscription along with them - and thus Ordinals become transferrable digital assets.

What's cool about these is that (a) they are secured by bitcoin, the most secure and decentralized blockchain by far, and (2) this isn't metadata linking to some IPFS (or worse web site) with the graphcs - the actual data (aka graphic binary) is stored ON-CHAIN.

So how does one get these and trade them?

The short answer is "it ain't easy". The reason is that not all bitcoin wallets support Ordinals. in fact you could buy one of the originals but if you send it to a "regular" bitcoin wallet, It will just look like bitcoin and , in fact, will be bundled along with your other sats and there will be no way to dig it out. There are new wallets coming, but for now, ord is the main game in town, and some people are mostly using Sparrow. There are some instructions you can follow here on how to set it up, but the gist is: don't lose your private key. And don't mix regular bitcoin with these ordinals. Have a nice clean wallet and then use another wallet to send any sats for transactions, etc. Yes, you can do this.

OK cool, but then how do I create them?

Well up until about yesterday (Feb. 9, 2023) ord wallet was used, along with a bitcoin node running on your computer. But fortunately, the geniuses at created a nice creator tool, as did the Satoshibles gang (also geniuses) with their ordinals bot site. Either one let you create an ordinal, send it to a wallet, and then pay for it from another bitcoin account. As of yet, there is no easy way to create a collection. Now the entire punks collection has been minted as ordinals, as has another PFP project called on-chain monkeys (that look like shite, if you ask me). And obviously both of these projects are derivative and not original. Because there is no mint function as in a regular NFT contract, all of these had to be created as inscriptions individually.

the gamma,.io ordinal creation tool

So as a project you have a few choices:

  1. Create all of the inscriptions upfront and send then, one-by-one to buyers. A hassle to be sure.
  2. Use another chain to mint nfts that will represent the inscriptions, then let your community know how to get walelts, and drop them to your holders. Fine for a few hundred but likely not for a 10k collection.
  3. Let users create their own inscription, and whoever mints each graphic first (aka has the lowest instance - all inscriptions are numbered) has the "original". Catalog them.
  4. Wait until gamma or Satoshibles or whoever builds something to make this easier.
  5. Be creative: come up with a new way. This is brand new tech, and from here all kinds of new ideas and constructs will emerge.

I'm in. How do I get started?

It all starts with community. If you have one, then figure out your plan and announce. If you don't, start building one (how? well frens can help of course...). frens will be releasing a tool to allow users to connect their wallets. We'll show you how soon. In the meantime, sign up for our mailing list to be informed when support for ordinals and other new features are released.

more Web3 posts...