A fascinating collection of posts on the 18th-century email list has been exploring historic inks. It’s a reminder of how much more complicated everyday living was in the past; how much you had to know about all sorts of things that now happen invisibly, off stage.
I once intended to learn Chinese painting – might even get back to it one of these days, since I love the results – so I have got a lovely stone palettes and ink sticks, which just have to be ground with water.
But in the West these don’t seem to have developed; instead you started from scratch. There are some recipes here. (And if you are wondering about the seemingly essential “gallnuts” they are: “A nutlike swelling produced on an oak or other tree by certain parasitic wasps.”)
But the results, it seems, from the The ink corrosion website, which deals in detail with “major threat to our cultural heritage” – were not always ideal.
This left me musing about modern inks: pen and computer. How durable are they? But then again as librarians often warn, electronic records are certainly worse.