Black ink

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Julia
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Black ink

Postby Julia » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:37 pm

I would like to have a go at making some black ink to use to draw out the lines of of a Tafl board (made of chestnut). Theophiliius gives us a helpful technique for extracting the Tannin from Hawthorn branches and using it to make ink.

Being that I have a tub of tannin that is used in wine making, and I have some green vitriol in stock (the other ingredient). Does anyone know how feasible it is to make a workable black ink from the chemicals? What sort of proportions should I use?

Thanks

J



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Re: Black ink

Postby guthrie » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:48 pm

*rubs hands with glee*
The basic answer is, YES, use whatever amount of each ingredient you like, but you should try to keep the amount of added green vitriol to a minimum to avoid an overly acidic ink.
The first trick is making sure you have quite a concentrated solution of tannins, still watery but not gummy.
Then either add the vitriol and heat and stir, or else dissolve the vitriol in water beforehand and add it to the tannins. You should see the tannin solution going black.
See here for a related process, tannins from oak bark with green vitriol added, to be used for dyeing leather:
http://distillatio.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/dyeing-leather-black-a-bit-like-alchemy/

I note that you havn't mentioned gum arabic, which was definitely used to make the ink more sticky and better suited to the sort of quill pens in use at the time. Perhaps they didn't in THeophilus' time, I don't know how different it was to use, Gregory 23b can probably tell you more.
I've made my own oak gall ink a few times, but getting it just right is tricky. The end result is usually still usable though.
So you just need to experiment.

(tannin is used in wine making? What for? I thought it was in red wine naturally, hence the quick and chearful medieval recipe for making ink in which you boil up red wine)



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Re: Black ink

Postby guthrie » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:05 pm

I forgot to mention - I've done a bit of research on medieval ink, and there's a general lack of proper sources given for most of the recipes on the web. There's also a certain lack of information available about period recipes in the scholarly literature, or at least I have trouble finding any. The recipes I have seen tend to vary a bit, which isn't surprising given that they use natural ingredients such as oak galls which will vary in the quantity of tannins within them.



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Re: Black ink

Postby Mark Griffin » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:04 pm

Hawthorne works blooomin well. Soak the stems in an iron pot till the whole thing goes into an orangey gloop (give it a month), pulp, boil and start doing the adding vitriol bit. Work v well and yields better than Oak gall.

Tannins are in the left over skins or must (wahaaaaay my qualification in viticulture not wasted!) and yes, they will produce something inky, but much of the tannin will be in the vino so it will be pretty weak so you'll need tons of it to get it to an ink consistency


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Re: Black ink

Postby guthrie » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:47 am

Mark, did you get the Hawthorn at a specific time, like April/ May as Theophilus suggests?



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Re: Black ink

Postby Mark Griffin » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:14 am

cant recall, did it 12 years ago I think. It was a hedge that came down but no idea what time of year. Think the April May thing would be a bit late for my liking on the ecological side, its into nesting season, I'd be doing it now. What I used was the little bits, hedge trimmings and nothing larger than your little finger.


http://www.griffinhistorical.com. A delicious decadent historical trifle. Thick performance jelly topped with lashings of imaginative creamy custard. You may also get a soggy event management sponge finger but it won't cost you hundreds and thousands.

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Re: Black ink

Postby Mark Griffin » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:15 am

In fact i have a load of the same sitting here from the autumn, if anyone local wants a go..... Its firing the oven if not

Yours,

Griff


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Re: Black ink

Postby gregory23b » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:19 pm

A couple of things:

Gallate/tannate ink works well on oak and ash as the tannin in those woods gives the ink extra oomph, how does the vitriol work with chestnut, you might simply need to paint it on.

Why use ink in grooves? It has no body and can change colour why not use lamp black and wax that would sit in the grooves and be a lot more visible.

Hawthorn is simply an alternative source of tannin, it could just as easily be oak galls or red/white wine.

If you are using pure tannin and vitriol, you might need to add an impurity for I gather that pure tannins and vitriols produce a clear liquid, it is impurities which catalyse the black colour, hence the Victorians having to add a small amount of colour to 'blue black' ink to generate the colour change.

Tannin inks are a piece of cake to make - loads of recipes on line, can smell a bit metallic, do only use a steel/iron pan aluminum makes the mixture go cloudy. Make sure to use a good quality gall, suggest the gall powder from George Weil, our own oak galls are American, apparently our native ones usurped in the 19thc, the former having a lower level of gallate/tannates etc.
Last edited by gregory23b on Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Black ink

Postby Mark Griffin » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:27 pm

or even pitch maybe....? no evidence springs to mind other than funerary monuments and that wouldn't have minded being poured in hot. Gregorys wax and lamp black idea sounds v sensible indeed.


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Re: Black ink

Postby guthrie » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:46 am

gregory23b wrote:If you are using pure tannin and vitriol, you might need to add an impurity for I gather that pure tannins and vitriols produce a clear liquid, it is impurities which catalyse the black colour, hence the Victorians having to add a small amount of colour to 'blue black' ink to generate the colour change.

I've been doing some research on the chemistry, otherwise known as searching the internet for proper papers on the topic. Basically there's several types of tannin around, one of which, which is present in large amounts in oak and other plants is broken up by the actions of heat or decomposition by moulds or such or by the vitriol (I'm not so sure about the heat, but sure about the moulds and vitriol). It then forms lots of acid molecules which can bond with the iron from the vitriol.
So it depends on what tannins you are talking about - My naturally derived from oak bark tannins work fine with vitriol, giving a black liquid.

gregory23b wrote:
Tannin inks are a piece of cake to make - loads of recipes on line, can smell a bit metallic, do only use a steel/iron pan aluminum makes the mixture go cloudy. Make sure to use a good quality gall, suggest the gall powder from George Weil, our own oak galls are American, apparently our native ones usurped in the 19thc, the former having a lower level of gallate/tannates etc.

I hadn't heard that our oak galls were usurped, but certainly english ones were famous for having less tannins in them.



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Re: Black ink

Postby sally » Fri Jan 18, 2013 1:15 pm

as I understand it, the marble gall that we mostly see is the more recent introduction, whearas the larger, spongier 'oak apple' is the one we've had the longest.

Guthrie, any particular recommendations from amongst those papers you've been reading, I wouldnt mind understanding the chemistry of whats going on in a little more depth?



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Re: Black ink

Postby guthrie » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:03 pm

Sure, here's one text with references:
https://pacer.ischool.utexas.edu/bitstream/2081/9104/4/Maitland_text.pdf

And another:
http://www.viks.sk/chk/res_3_95_143_160.doc

The larger spongier galls are what we have in Scotland now, I have gathered a few from my local oak trees, although for some reason the ones I thought I saw growing last April disappeared, either someone nicked them or they dried up and fell off or something.
I did manage to gather some of the incomer type galls from trees in Hyde park when I was last in London.




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