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Re: Henley's Formulas/Ingredients/Inks, etc.



Regarding mail order sources for herbs, spices and the like, try Frontier
Herbs out of Norway, Iowa (1-800-669-3275), but to order you must have a
vendor's license or go through a business (such as a health food store). 
Some of the craft wholesale houses, such as Earth Guild, out of North
Carolina (800-327-8448), are also helpful.  

As for iron gall ink, as someone has pointed out, the gall has nothing to
do with oxgall (which is what is used in watercolor marbling in the
Turkish/Persian tradition), but comes from oak galls (I'm sure that's real
clear, but hang in there, I actually do pull this all together in part
2!). In fact, oak galls are the oak tree's response to a female wasp
despositing her eggs on its trunk or branches, even leaves--honest:
it--the tree--excretes a substance that literally encapsulates the eggs, thus
protecting itself from intrusion.  What really matters, though, is that the
oak galls are a source of tannin, the basic dye for ink.  For truly black ink,
though, it is necessary to add some copper, from green vitriol or iron
salts, i.e., sulfate of iron.  Some recipes added ground "logwood," an
imported wood containing haematoxylin, that evidently increased the
"blackness" of the ink, but this isn't requisite.

It might be wise to add here that such inks are highly acidic; indeed, the
word "ink" --from the Greek "encauston"--means "corrosive" or "burned in,"
which aided adhesion to paper but also didn't stop at that point but just
continued eating into it.  Some of these recipes go back to a long way
before the pioneers, as well, to Isidore of Seville (a bishop) and
an 11th-century monk, Theophilus, in the grand old days of alchemy, and the
inks that were produced from them were fine when they were used with
quills and vellum, but when, on the heels of the Industrial Revolution,
metal nibs became the rage, well, now we're talking real corrosion.  So why
are we trying to make these inks again, anyway???? 

Ann Alaia Woods


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