Making Ink

I've recently started the process of making ink.  I actually got the idea from my fifteen year olds chemistry class.  They had taken an alchemic recipe for black ink and translated the old measurements and ingredients to make ink.
To teenagers this might seem a bit interesting but on the most part "lame" like everything else in the world.  I was impressed and excited by the concept not because I am science minded, but the possibilities of a never ending supply of ink was overwhelming. Just think about it the ability to make an art supply at will.  Ink might not be your thing I'm not sure it's mine. I have used it and like it, but it has never been a staple in my Art making.  This abundant access may change my mind.

Here is the recipe that my son was given.
I have spent some time looking up ink recipes, as well as finding out what some of these items are.  Most are pretty common.  The "gomme" it refers to is " gum arabic".  This is a common tool in some artists kit.  I had to do some research to find out what was the difference between food, watercolor, and photography gum Arabic.  It turns out they are all the same just different dilutions.  The photography grade the most diluted.  I would think it would be a good idea to get the most concentrated and dilute it yourself.

The most unusual part of the recipe is the "galles".  These are a type of growth that happens on scrub oak/ oak brush.  There are these roundish growths that happen when the tree is protecting itself from a virus, bug or type of harmful invader.  These growths are the visible evidence of there immune system. "That part I learnt from my kid".  So you need to get some of these "galles" if you don't live where there is oak brush, I guess your out of luck.  In Utah you can find it anywhere.  Luckily there are some in my yard, and the oak must be pretty sick, or get attacked all the time.  Those "galles" are everywhere.

The "copres". In the recipe equates to iron sulphate.

What I gather is that the recipe is a condensed version of ink, that can be diluted for use.  The diluting agent being vinegar for darker ink water for lighter collared ink.  And it sounds like it may get spoiled if you do not add the preservative of salt.

After doing some amount of reading I found a number of websites that discuss the topic of ink making.  So far is the most in depth website I have read about Iron Gall Ink.  It offers recipes but best of all the chemical process, and offers advice about producing ink that is archival on paper and color is resistant fading by the exposure of light.  This may not interest the hobbyists.  I know this is topic of interest amongst the artists community.

The "Iron Gall Ink Website" explains that the basis for making ink is a chemical reaction between tannic acid and iron sulphate.  The tannic acid coming from the galls and the iron sulphate or copres coming from a chemistry store or gardening store.  It is a common fertilizer called, vitriol.  The site also states that the best ratio for the highest quality of ink is 3:1 gallitonic acid to iron sulfate.

The preparation method also has a lot to do with the quality and color of ink used.  The quicker the preparation the lower the quality of ink.  The best ink supposedly coming from a fermentation process that lasts a couple of weeks.

A number of the sites also use water and wine interchangeably.  The color of ink being affected by the type of liquid being used.

I have discussed all of the components and there purpose and was going to list the recipe here,  however I think it would be more suitable to just redirect you to the "Iron Gall Ink" website.  After all it appears that my sons teacher may have pulled her information from this site anyway.  Visit for multiple ways to produce your own ink.

I have begun the process of making my ink.  I believe I am going to try the fermentation process, for better ink.  I will keep you up to date on how it is going and the overall success of the project.

Gerneral's starter drawing kit comparison

The two kits I am comparing are in approximately the same price range and a comparable quality.  The first being General's Drawing Pencil Kit.  It offers a range of graphite pencils as well as charcoal.  The kit my class has been using comes with one square sketching pencil.  I have noticed online that some come with more than one of the square drawing pencil.  This kit also comes with a white charcoal pencil, and blocks of graphite, as well as a water soluble graphite pencil.  The range of values offered by the variety of each pencil covers most of the needs of the beginner or student.  And the white pencil is a nice additive if you are looking at using toned paper as one of your projects.  The graphite pencils that are in the kit step outside the standard h-b rating of hard or soft (dark/light).  A number of students seem a bit confused when figuring out which pencil they should use.  I like the square sketch pencil and the variety of mark making possibilities it offers.  I also like the graphite blocks for the same reason.  It may be a bit redundant for beginners.  From my experience beginners will use the blocks like a pencil anyway, So outside of instruction someone will get about the same outcome from the square pencil and the graphite blocks.  Keep in mind this kit seems to have a higher quality graphite set it has its drawbacks.  There is no eraser, no sharpener, no blending stump, and no sanding pad.

The Generals Sketchmate Kit is equipped with three B ranged pencils I believe HB-2B-4b.  A decent range.  It also comes with the extra black Layout Pencil.  It has three variations in charcoal pencils.  Which work very well.  This grade of charcoal seem to be relatively similar so the variety may not be apparent.  This kit also includes an eraser, sanding pad, and blending stump.   In my opinion, these additives make it a more complete beginners kit.  Aside from the missing white charcoal the Sketchmate kit is the one that offers a better level of preparation for projects that beginning drafts-people might find themselves engaging in.  The square pencil would be a nice additive, but it looks like we will be buying a separate white pencil to add to the kit so might as well add the square pencil as well.

With those two additions the Sketchmate kit which initially costs a little bit less, might end up being a little bit more.  Although you could add the singular items of the eraser, blending, stump and pencil sharpener to the Drawing Pencil Kit to add to the overall needs of the beginner.  The kits are both decent and you won't be disappointed with them.  My needs for my students are better filled with the Sketchmate Kit.

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