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Re: [BKARTS] Lapis and such
Allow me to complement you on your pamphlet Vellum Preparation: History and
Technique which I enjoyed reading.
However, I must beg to differ with you on Karen Gorst's Oak Gall Ink recipe
as it was handed out at the show you reviewed. This is an extremely simple
and basic recipe.
It is as follows:
3 parts ground oak galls
2 parts ferrous sulfate
1 part powdered gum arabic
Rinsed egg shells
This is a very standard proportional ratio for oak gall ink recipes (3:2:1).
In fact if I recall correctly, Jack Thompson uses the same proportions
(minus the eggshell) in his recipe in Manuscript Inks. Of course, making oak gall
ink is a tremendously complex task, masked by a relatively simple recipe.
Different varieties of oak galls vary widely in their tannin contents, e.g.
Aleppo galls, from Syria, have the highest concentrations of gall-tannic acids
with 50 - 70%. Other galls vary widely from Turkish galls with 35% to German
galls with 10-15%. This is not even to mention the various kinds of tannins
and which are most suited to oak gall ink. (The 3:2:1 recipe is assuming a gall
of high tannin content such as the Aleppo.) Also, wet and dry ferrous
sulfate have different volumes, some people prefer to use copper sulfate instead,
and many medieval recipes vary in their requirement to ferment or not ferment
the galls. All these issues effect the ultimate outcome of the ink and
whether it will become corrosive over time. That being said, this, within basic
limits, is a standard recipe for oak gall ink. I for one have used this recipe
extensively and have taught this recipe to numerous students who have had
As for Karen not using oak gall ink in the show, I'm sure that providing a
recipe as background information about medieval arts doesn't in anyway
indicate that all the pieces are made using that material. Lamp black the ink which
she primarily used, although some may argue is less interesting, is perfectly
in period and was used during the Middle Ages.
In Lapis & Gold, we cover both lamp black ink and oak gall ink along with
numerous variations on both. I look forward to hearing your review when the
In a message dated 7/16/2005 6:40:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
Delighted to hear it, especially since a year and a half ago I
reviewed a recipe published by Ms. Gorst in the context of a show of
her work. As I pointed out at the time (WOID #X-28), Ms. Gorst's
interpretation of a simple recipe for gall ink was unworkable, and she
herself had not used gall ink for any of the works on display. Now I
find that Ms. Archibald and Ms. Gorst, whose work I have followed for
over twenty years, are fluent translators of Medieval Arabic and
Latin! Clearly, apologies are in order.
I would be glad and honored to review this new, important work - in
fact, I feel obligated to do so. Or perhaps, since Ms. Archibald holds
my friend Jack Thompson in such high esteem, she will forward a
reviewer's copy to him - a positive endorsement from a reputable
scholar always does wonders for a book. I, for one, will be awaiting
his fair-minded evaluation with bated breath.
> I respectfully ask you to reserve judgment on whether Lapis & Gold
> groundbreaking until you see it! The book is about 350 pages long
> recipes (from both Latin & Arabic treatises) that have never been
> If not, I will humbly accept your judgment.
Paul T Werner, New York
WOID: A journal of visual language
THE ORANGE PRESS, publishing "Vellum Preparation: History and
DRAGONSBLOOD AND ASHES, a project to research and practice the
techniques of the medieval scribe
Edelpappband / "Millimeter" Binding Bind-O-Rama, Entry Deadline - October 1, 2005
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