I have to interrupt my read of The Missing Ink - The Lost Art of Handwriting (and Why it Still Matters) by Philip Hensher to talk about ink.
We haven't had a good pen and ink conversation for ages, and as you can see I need more ink like I need it to rain a lot more, but having read Edward Cocker's 1658 recipe for making ink, quoted in Philip's book, I really am a bit tempted to try. At this point, as when I threaten to take up spinning, Bookhound will say why don't you just buy whatever it is ready made. No, you see I never had a proper chemistry set as a child and it is beginning to show, I clearly haven't got this out of my system yet because how unexciting would that be compared to this...
Take three Ounces of Galls which are small and heavy and crisp, put them in a vessel of three pints of Wine or of Rain-water, which is much better, letting it stand to infusing in the Sun for one or two dayes.'
Now things get a bit trickier...
Then take two Ounces of Coppris, or of Roman Vitrial, well colour'd and beaten small, stirring it well with a stick, which being put in, set it again in the Sun for one or two dayes more.'
I think this might be Copper Sulphate (and will wait for Dark Puss to pad in and confirm) which seems easy enough to buy.
'Stir all together, adding two Ounces of Gum Arabique of the clearest and most shining, being well beaten,'
Again no problem, the cake-decorating shop or the art shop.
'And to make your Ink shine and lustrous, add certain pieces of Barque of Pomgranat, or a small quantity of double-refin'd Sugar, boyling it a little over a gentle fire. Lastly pour it out, and keep it in a vessel of Glasse, or of Lead well covered.'
Philip Hensher thinks this is all a great deal of effort, which it is, but someone's got to try this recipe and it might just be me. Something tells me that there are some crucial words missing like 'sieve' and 'strain out the bits' but this might be about using common sense, and perhaps they didn't need to be told absolutely everything in the seventeenth century. I just have a funny feeling it is going to smell vile.
I am currently writing with J.Herbin in the shade Poussiere de Lune, a sort of greyish mauve, which was recommended by one of you during our last inky conversation (thank you, I love it) and with my much-loved Lamy Safari pen, but meanwhile I have also been on a little covetous ink foray around my favourite haunts and this is my latest 'need'.
My latest 'need' actually means I have no need of it whatsoever, but how automatically beautiful and meaningful and important would everything written in this Japanese ink be. Especially when it is called Iroshizuku in that shade Murasaki Shikubu...
The name Iroshizuku is a combination of the Japanese words Iro (Coloring), expressing high standards and variation of colors, and Shizuku (Droplet), that embodies the very image of dripping water.
Each ink name derives from the expressions of beautiful Japanese natural landscapes and plants, all of which contribute to the depth of each individual hue.
Name: Murasake Shikibu translates as Japanese Beautyberry
Actual Colour: (Deep Lavender)
The Story: Murasaki Shikibu grows wild throughtout Japan, adorned with purple-colored berries. This purple matches the shade of the rich Murasaki Shikibu berries.
Or maybe this one...
Name: Tsuiki-Yo translates as Moonlight
Actual Colour: Deep Teal
The Story: This shade of blue comes from the image of a night sky, dimly illuminated by moonlight.
You see surely anything I write with that will be magical.
Meanwhile it was decided, let the Great British Inkxperiment begin and a long-suffering Bookhound and I went off hunting down 3ozs of oak galls and came back with 1.5 ozs... so I halved the recipe using the spring water that feeds all our outside taps on the basis that it had probably been rainwater very recently.This being me I didn't give quantities in relation to demand for finished product another thought until I saw it all in the jar and realised the error of my ways.
We may need to open an ink factory, so I have reduced the water by half. Next I have to source a small quantity of copper sulphate (any suggestions...and please don't tell me to go out and mine some copper and add it to sulphuric acid, I am not that keen) and ask the Gamekeeper to locate a suitable feathered host for the supply of a quill pen.
But over to you for pen and ink eulogising.