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Thread: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

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    Default Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    I'm new here on FPGeeks and still finding my sea legs. I love to make ink from plant matter, particularly iron gall and black walnut inks. I thought I'd share one of my recipes. Hang onto this recipe until next fall when you can find the necessary oak galls.

    California Live Oak Iron Gall Ink

    To make any quantity of ink:

    9 parts California Live Oak Apples, crushed (Quercus agrifolia)
    2 parts iron sulfate
    1 part gum arabic
    30 parts distilled water
    Several whole cloves

    This is the quantity of oak apples I had, so here are the ingredient amounts I used based on the above formula:

    192 gr (6.78 ozs.) California Live Oak Apples (Quercus agrifolia)
    42 gr (1.48 ozs.) iron sulfate
    21 gr (.74 oz.) powdered gum arabic
    1892 ml (64 ozs.) distilled water
    Several whole cloves

    5357557334_77803b2edf.jpg
    Left: aleppo oak galls
    Right: CA Live Oak galls

    Combine the crushed oak apples and distilled water into a glass jar and allow to ferment 2 months. (If the jar has a metal lid, use a Saran Wrap barrier between it and the ink when you screw it on.)

    8040124732_3be8c6ca74.jpg
    Fermenting the galls

    Strain through a couple of layers of cloth, squeezing every last drop of liquid you can. Cover and bring the liquid to a boil in a non-reactive pot for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add more distilled water if necessary to bring it up to the original amount of distilled water, 64 ounces.

    Add the iron sulfate, stirring with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Add the gum arabic and stir well. Add several whole cloves (for a preservative). Let it set overnight in a clean amber glass jar. It’ll take about this long for the gum arabic to totally dissolve.

    Stir again. Make a writing sample. It should be a dark gray or black, depending on the paper. Yields approximately a half gallon (1.8 liters) of ink.

    8242271479_f7f4e7ac60_b.jpg

    It's best to use this with a dip pen, preferably a gold-plated metal one (to resist tarnishing) or a feather quill, reed or glass pen. I have used this ink in a Parker Vector with excellent results. But for the most part, it is recommended you not use these traditional inks in a fountain pen (do so at your own risk!) I have successfully used this ink in the Pilot 78G and Pilot Parallel, too.

    eta: You can find iron sulfate in the fertilizer section of your local gardening store.
    Last edited by fiberdrunk; April 26th, 2013 at 04:07 PM. Reason: typos

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    Senior Member woosang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    I would love to try this but I would have no idea where to get a gall In Australia. Hmmm something to research :-)

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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Quote Originally Posted by woosang View Post
    I would love to try this but I would have no idea where to get a gall In Australia. Hmmm something to research :-)
    I don't know the names of stores in Oz, but do you know those stores that sell decoration items, like eco-friendly furniture, glasses, home an bath stuff, candles and so on? Sometimes they sell dried galls, flowers, pebbles to make table decorations. I just saw this post and it clicked in because just yesterday I was in a store like these looking for something for mothers day and they had a bunch of galls and dried leaves for sale so I said to myself "I wonder if I could make homemade ink with these?".

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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Thanks for posting this Fiberdrunk. My ink has finally gotten decently dark and nice to write with. We had some disposable paint filters which worked well to filter my batch. On another twist, have you ever experimented with adding shellac?
    JBBPensPaper an Etsy store

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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Quote Originally Posted by menunes View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by woosang View Post
    I would love to try this but I would have no idea where to get a gall In Australia. Hmmm something to research :-)
    I don't know the names of stores in Oz, but do you know those stores that sell decoration items, like eco-friendly furniture, glasses, home an bath stuff, candles and so on? Sometimes they sell dried galls, flowers, pebbles to make table decorations. I just saw this post and it clicked in because just yesterday I was in a store like these looking for something for mothers day and they had a bunch of galls and dried leaves for sale so I said to myself "I wonder if I could make homemade ink with these?".
    I'll keep an eye out. thank you

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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Iron Gall ink is becoming one of my favorites. I love the fine lines you can get with it.
    JBBPensPaper an Etsy store

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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Quote Originally Posted by woosang View Post
    I would love to try this but I would have no idea where to get a gall In Australia. Hmmm something to research :-)
    Sorry I'm just now getting around to responding. I homeschool, and as we are trying to finish up the school year (i.e. hectic time of year!), I just haven't been online much lately.

    Oak galls sometimes show up on eBay. John Neal Bookseller sells the best galls (aleppo), if you don't mind mail ordering from the states. If you get the aleppo galls, I'd recomend following this recipe instead (aleppo galls have more gallotannic acid in them, so the other ingredients need to be adjusted).

    Another possible place to look are craft shops that sell dying supplies, such as for dying yarn and fiber.
    Last edited by fiberdrunk; May 11th, 2013 at 04:50 PM. Reason: typos
    Spreading the inky goodness... see my homemade ink recipes here (free)

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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Quote Originally Posted by jbb View Post
    Thanks for posting this Fiberdrunk. My ink has finally gotten decently dark and nice to write with. We had some disposable paint filters which worked well to filter my batch. On another twist, have you ever experimented with adding shellac?
    Glad to know a little aging helped to darken your ink!

    No, I've never added shellac. Iron gall ink is already very waterproof, so I can't see the point. However, I have been hunting for a decent homemade India (carbon) ink recipe. Shellac would be a better fit there.
    Spreading the inky goodness... see my homemade ink recipes here (free)

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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Quote Originally Posted by fiberdrunk View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jbb View Post
    Thanks for posting this Fiberdrunk. My ink has finally gotten decently dark and nice to write with. We had some disposable paint filters which worked well to filter my batch. On another twist, have you ever experimented with adding shellac?
    Glad to know a little aging helped to darken your ink!

    No, I've never added shellac. Iron gall ink is already very waterproof, so I can't see the point. However, I have been hunting for a decent homemade India (carbon) ink recipe. Shellac would be a better fit there.
    The shellac is for making the ink more glossy looking not more waterproof. I've got one tiny batch of red ink looking just the way I want it. I'm also experimenting with dextrose powder for making glossy ink. Another thing I'm want to do is make ink powder. Are you familiar with this site. http://www.evanlindquist.com/otherme...nkrecipes.html It has a lot of recipes for ink making (including powdered ink.)

    The trick to using shellac is that you have to use borax to get the shellac to disolve in water.
    JBBPensPaper an Etsy store

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    Senior Member woosang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Quote Originally Posted by fiberdrunk View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by woosang View Post
    I would love to try this but I would have no idea where to get a gall In Australia. Hmmm something to research :-)
    Sorry I'm just now getting around to responding. I homeschool, and as we are trying to finish up the school year (i.e. hectic time of year!), I just haven't been online much lately.

    Oak galls sometimes show up on eBay. John Neal Bookseller sells the best galls (aleppo), if you don't mind mail ordering from the states. If you get the aleppo galls, I'd recomend following this recipe instead (aleppo galls have more gallotannic acid in them, so the other ingredients need to be adjusted).

    Another possible place to look are craft shops that sell dying supplies, such as for dying yarn and fiber.
    Thank but there is no way I can import into Australia. The customs people would have a fit. I will need to look for local people who may have such things

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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Quote Originally Posted by jbb View Post

    The shellac is for making the ink more glossy looking not more waterproof. I've got one tiny batch of red ink looking just the way I want it. I'm also experimenting with dextrose powder for making glossy ink. Another thing I'm want to do is make ink powder. Are you familiar with this site. http://www.evanlindquist.com/otherme...nkrecipes.html It has a lot of recipes for ink making (including powdered ink.)

    The trick to using shellac is that you have to use borax to get the shellac to disolve in water.
    Cool! I have seen Lindquist's website before. I've always wanted to do those ink powder recipes, but it's not easy finding places that sell small amounts of chemicals.

    I'd still be a bit worried about adding shellac to iron gall ink. The chemical balance is fussy. My primary aim in ink-making is longevity, so I don't add extras (including blue dyes or even logwood, so common with iron gall inks-- all of them corrupt the ink eventually and cause premature browning and possible corrosion). But you never know... if we didn't experiment, we might not find a better way to do things, either!
    Spreading the inky goodness... see my homemade ink recipes here (free)

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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Quote Originally Posted by fiberdrunk View Post
    Cool! I have seen Lindquist's website before. I've always wanted to do those ink powder recipes, but it's not easy finding places that sell small amounts of chemicals.
    Which chemicals specifically? With all the projects going on in this house you never know what you might find.
    JBBPensPaper an Etsy store

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    Default Re: Homemade Iron Gall Ink (CA Live Oak recipe)

    Quote Originally Posted by jbb View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fiberdrunk View Post
    Cool! I have seen Lindquist's website before. I've always wanted to do those ink powder recipes, but it's not easy finding places that sell small amounts of chemicals.
    Which chemicals specifically? With all the projects going on in this house you never know what you might find.
    Gallic acid, tannic acid and indigotin (also known as carmen indigo). The latter is very cost-prohibitive. Gallic acid is the hardest one to get because apparently people use it to make narcotics (I forget which one).
    Spreading the inky goodness... see my homemade ink recipes here (free)

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