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Old 11-22-2019, 07:59 PM
pedlars pen pedlars pen is offline
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Re: Horse

I know there was a lot of info there to digest at one sitting but you can buy shellac at Amazon or e-bay very readily, just put "shellac for cake making in , it is cheap & of high quality. Yes it is the rust part of the iron gaul ink that gives it the red/brown appearence of Rembandts' inks.
You say" Or perhaps the liquid from soaking rusty nails in vinegar could be added to commercial brown ink?" - yes that is the way I would go on this,most especially because the Iron gaul ink you can buy is too concentrated for your requirements.What I would try is lightly wire brushing any old rusty steel or iron then soaking those fine(ish) particles in just a few drops of distilled water in a saucer, when it dried out add a few more drops after a few times, maybe grind it up between two coins between soakings to accelerate the process . Now you will have some concentrated red rust rust!
Then put all this red powder into some white vinegar ,use a small amount in a small container ,= 1 quantity in dry volume of your fine red rust powder to 5 volumes of vinegar.
Leave this for a month at least stirring it a couple of times a day.
Now filter this through a paper coffee filter & THAT is the ingredient to add to your commercially bought iron gaul ink ,along with distilled water the amounts to be judged by you ! but add it slowly & let it dry on the paper for at the very least 24hours before judging it at all because of oxidization.

No their paper was not sized nor prepared specially for the onslaught of the acidic ink or anything like that- just high quality as is freely available today.
If this acidity is a red line for you (on litmus paper pun intended) you can add Borax to the ink if you want to make it totally PH neutral.Exactly as you do when using shellac.
Phew & we thought ink was expensive !
Cheers Mike
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Old 11-23-2019, 04:14 AM
pedlars pen pedlars pen is offline
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Re: Horse

The above was written last thing last night, it still stands but there are potential pitfalls within this process .I should have given you this link which will give you the definitive overview of the practical application of the full process- https://irongallink.org/igi_indexc33a.html
Also this - https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-m...ing-brown-ink/ although I can't vouch for this as it does not take into account the definitive spectrometer analysis & still talks about Bistre .
However Rembrandt got his ink tones it was with some tweaking of the traditional iron gaul recipe , that much is proven .Good luck !
Mike

Last edited by pedlars pen : 11-23-2019 at 04:43 AM.
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Old 11-23-2019, 02:48 PM
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MMCoston MMCoston is offline
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Re: Horse

Hi Mike,
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience about ink making. Ironically, after having read much about oak galls yesterday, last night I stumbled upon a large quantity of similar looking things on the ground and consulted a local agriculture student specializing in trees who identified the tree as a chestnut oak. There's no shortage of rusted iron and steel around so it seems I might actually have the main materials for the experiment! But I have a few more questions.

First, I want my ink to prominently feature the oxidation so I assume I will need a higher iron to gall ratio than most recipes call for. But would using shellac as a binder seal out oxygen and prevent that reaction? Would gum Arabic work better? Is there a third option that would let the iron breathe more?

The second question is about pH levels. I do want to try the ink pure and adding an alkaline to the ink, but I also want to try treating the paper. I figure if this works, it might be handy later down the road if I want to use another acidic medium. You mention using borax for this purpose, but do you happen to know if something like baking powder would work as well? I plan to use both sized 100% cotton watercolor paper and archival bee paper that's only 25% cotton for these experiments, if that matters.

Third, which is the better liquid base, white vinegar or distilled water? I keep loads of distilled water on hand for art purposes. But it seems vinegar would have the advantage of preventing mold and bacterial growth later down the road, Though I'm sure both would need further diluting with distilled water when it comes time to use them.

Lastly, during the long steeping process, will the mixture need to breathe or can it be kept in an airtight jar?

Thank you for the links. I will sit down to study them tonight. Last night I ran across an old ink recipe that used beer which I assume functioned much like vinegar would. But I have to wonder what role the brewer's yeast played in the process. It's fascinating stuff, this ink making.
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Old 11-23-2019, 04:54 PM
pedlars pen pedlars pen is offline
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Re: Horse

Wow ! not "ironically" you found some gauls , sounds more like this project was "meant to be "
To get a decent amount of good red rust, getting a hold of some Iron filings (commercially widely available) & oxidising them in distilled water would seem like the most efficient way to do it, it wouldn't take long at all.
After you've read those links especially the first one you'll be a lot better in formed.
You say - "But would using shellac as a binder seal out oxygen and prevent that reaction? Would gum Arabic work better? Is there a third option that would let the iron breathe more?" - No worries there- the shellac will make a hard sealed surface BUT ONLY when it is put on the page & left to dry 24hours or so.Anyway the the shellac is not added to the very final stages -no need for any concern about that aspect at all. Still though I do strongly suspect that Rembrandt would have used gum arabic because it had been coming down the silk road for millennia where as shellac was hardly used at that time (I don't think?) The reason i recommended you using shellac was because you seemed to be attracted to multi layered washes. this would not be so easy with gum arabic of course because it would be more like using water colour paint.
Do remember though that one of the main purposes of putting in either the shellac or the G/A is to make the ink just the right viscosity to function properly with the pen although I know you want a shiny & glazed finish that is most definitely a Shellac finish .
Mould in ink is a concern ,the addition of borax makes it too neutral a PH for mould to survive, BUT why havn't I heard of this being used in iron gaul before ? certainly it would prevent the initial highly acidic chemical reaction that is essential & integral to the iron gaul ink making process but would adding it later after it is made kill the ink? I don't know. However I'd be careful here as if all the major manufacturers sell acid iron gaul ink to this day(& they DO!) then it won't be any deficiency in their knowledge of chemistry or experience ! tread carefully here.
Here is another Really good link containing other links within it -fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/249871-how-to-make-iron-gall-ink/
There are some discussions on paper there too, I'm afraid I'm at the end of my limited iron gaul knowledge.Can't wait to see your resulting drawings though !
Mike
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Old 11-26-2019, 05:16 PM
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Re: Horse

Thank you Mike. Here is a preliminary follow up intended just to see how it works. I soaked the galls in distilled water since having found them and at the same time left one end of a rusty horse shoe in a small jar of white vinegar which cleaned the rust off it. Today I mixed a small portion of each liquid together for a little test run and here are the results only 30 minutes after.



I haven't added a binder or strained the liquid yet since I only poured a little off the top after everything settled. The impromptu little 'drawing' up close:



The ink went on very light gray with a brush and a little darker with the metal tipped dip pen but has continued to become darker and warmer colored. Can't wait to see what it looks like once more oxidization occurs. At the moment the washes look very delicate and the whole thing has a very organic feel to it. This test run is just on pulp paper but now to try out the cotton paper.
Thanks again!
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Old 11-26-2019, 06:59 PM
pedlars pen pedlars pen is offline
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Re: Horse

Excellent ! good for you ! I'm delighted you were motivated to give it a try.
You have obviously sorted out that you need to let it oxidise & you mention that you had used pulp paper .Again you will probably be on the case now but do bear in mind that the iron gaul will oxidise more quickly on pulp paper because of it's own acid content .
Let me know about it's archival properties in a few hundred years or so
Great stuff Mike
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