Historical ink-making

Another recipe today, but this time it is for something INEDIBLE! Namely, a historical ink. And this is less about the recipe, really, than it is about inspiring surprises. The lovely Christina from Perfect Laughter presides. Also, I really like that she thinks I am serious AND fancy.

History is serious. It requires facts and remembering things that happened before yesterday. It also involves libraries, and I hear those places like it when you shut up inside of them. This is why I write about art instead of history.

So why do I hang around a serious, fancy place like The Night Train? Allow me to explain as I litter Amy’s perfectly respectable history blog with exclamation points. Inspiration!! Artist types such as myself need constant inspiration. And imagining how I would do things if I’d been alive a hundred years ago instantly sparks my imagination.

For example: imagine you were an artist a hundred years ago. There are no computers; there were barely pencils. What medium would you experiment with? (By the way: the guy who first figured out how to automate pencil making didn’t bother to patent it and shared his technique with anyone who asked. One of the guys who asked: Eberhard Faber, who went on to make serious coin in the pencil business. Oops. Wikipedia is truly the poor man’s library.)

Ok, so you don’t have any pencils. What if you made your own ink? This lovely flower pot of purple irises belongs to Allyson Mellberg Taylor and Jeremy Taylor. A&J are artists who make their own inks and paints with plants from their garden. Their shop’s name, Belly of Flea, is an homage to Marie Antoinette’s favorite shade of brown. (Marie Antoinette’s favorite color was brown? She was a little crazy, I guess.)

Iron Gall Ink is a historical ink made from parasitic wasp pods called galls that can be found on oak trees. Cracking them and mixing them with iron sulphate and a few other ingredients (including beer!) creates an ink that will not fade over time. The U.S. Constitution itself was written in Iron Gall. Belly of Flea’s version is made from Jane Austen’s ink recipe that she detailed in a letter to her sister.

An ink recipe!! How’s that for a way to make original creative work? Who needs computers or pencils? If you do want to stick with pencils, however, I have to recommend Faber-Castell. Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell tested the durability of his pencils just a few years ago by throwing 144 of them out of his castle window. Not one broke.


Guys! This is Amy again. I was curious so I looked up the recipe. It goes like this, if you believe Google and this blogger, who tried it at home:

Take 4 ozs of blue gauls, 2 ozs of green copperas, 1 1/2 ozs of gum arabic. Break the gauls. The gum and copperas must be beaten in a mortar and put into a pint of strong stale beer; with a pint of small beer. Put in a little refin’d sugar. It must stand in the chimney corner fourteen days and be shaken two or three times a day.

Neat! Also, don’t drink it!

#historical ink#ink recipe#iron gall#jane austen#night train and friends#perfect laughter