The Iron Gall Ink Website
August 28, 2012 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Presenting your source for all things iron gall ink.

For centuries iron gall ink was the most important ink used in writing and drawing. Unfortunately, it has a tendency to darken over time and, worse, corrode the paper it is used on. Although prompted by the problem of corrosion and potential solutions, the Iron Gall Ink Website is also a useful resource for the history, chemistry, and preparation of iron gall ink.

Of course, if you really want to be authentic you'll need a quill pen. You can buy one premade or make one yourself.
posted by jedicus (8 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
And here I thought my use of fountain pens was being precious. Jeez.
posted by grubi at 8:51 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

For maximum authenticity / preciousness, try real parchment or hand-made traditional paper (aka 'true paper'), also available in the Japanese style.
posted by jedicus at 9:04 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Heh. I saw some manuscripts years ago that had pretty much become stencils due to the acidity of the iron gall ink. They were... striking.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:05 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by growabrain at 9:05 AM on August 28, 2012

Yeah, this is a serious problem in older collections. A lot of very important documents have to be treated in order to try and stabilize the ink. The British Library has a massive project to tackle this in their conservation lab. But that is one hell of a cool site! Thanks jedicus!
posted by clockbound at 9:23 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Awesome, thanks!

I totally need this for my Boke Project. I am constructing a book out of deer hides (Immaculately-skinned raw deer hides are available during deer season from my local deer-processing emporium for ten bucks a pop.) which I have myself rendered into a reasonable facsimilie of parchment. (I am so totally not kidding about this. Full disclaimer: Not in the SCA, just like projects.) Oak gall ink is the traditional choice for lettering, so I will be needing this directly.

Real parchment is pricey, but making your own parchment is not terribly difficult or expensive -- it's just kind of icky in the early stages. Should you want to make your own parchment, there is some pretty good make-your-own-parchment information out there regarding Klaf (for writing Sefer Torahs upon) and those instructions work nicely for secular goy parchment projects, too. My sources suggested using a flat hand-held sander and very fine grit paper instead of a crescent blade to shave down the hide. Works nicely but use a light touch and wear a mask -- it's quite dusty work.
posted by which_chick at 9:49 AM on August 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

And here I thought my use of fountain pens was being precious. Jeez.

This, like India ink and scented inks, probably is more of a dip pen thing. You'd probably damage whatever pen you use.

/Fountain pen user/lover/collector
posted by MrGuilt at 10:21 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Which_chick, you might want to look at how cabinet scrapers are sharpened and the little French curve scraper in a set like this. Lots of woodworkers embrace scrapers because the noise and dust (and because scrapers are amazingly good at what they do). (Full disclaimer: in the SCA, but mostly for the projects.)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:41 AM on August 28, 2012

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