This is a really lovely winter hibernation project. This recipe will guide you through the steps involved in making a rich black oak gall ink, medieval style! We foraged for our galls at a majestic oak in the neighbourhood, we were very thankful to the gall wasp for choosing this oak as home for her babies. She laid her eggs in the branches, and the tree builds a hard lump, a gall, around the newcomer. Once the wee wasps are ready for the world, they leave from the little holes in the galls. We found so many abandoned galls dripping from the low branches in clusters, ripe for picking.
- 50g dry oak galls
- 25ml iron sulfate powder
- gum arabic
- mortar and pestle
- old pot
- coffee filter
- glass jar
- Pound the galls to a fine grain, using a pestle and mortar. Or if you have a coffee grinder, this will help the process along even faster!
- Transfer the powdered oak gall grain to the pot and add 2 cups of water and leave to soak for 24 hours.
Strain the mixture through a coffee filter into a clean glass jar.
- Add the iron sulfate to the jar of strained liquid and mix well. With the addition of iron sulfate, the ink changes magically from brown to a deep black. The wonders of alchemy!
- Add a few drops of gum arabic to the ink and seal the jar.