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Sawtooth Oak Acorn Ink


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#1 fiberdrunk

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:10

This is my first acorn ink. This particular variety of acorn only has about 6-9% tannic acid content (contrast that to aleppo galls which have 50-70%). Most other acorns have even less. This means you have to use a lot more acorns to make ink than you would oak galls. But it is doable and makes for an interesting experiment.

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This ink is a medium gray on bleached papers, such as copy paper. It's a pale gray on cotton rag papers. So for best effect, I recommend bleached papers. The above was written on Sugarmade (sugarcane/bamboo). This ink is freshly made. I'm hoping it will ripen and darken further. If it doesn't, I'll try increasing the amount of acorns in the recipe next year. The fact that I saw squirrels eating these acorns this year (while ignoring them other years) makes me wonder if the tannic acid content was lower than normal. We had heavy rainfall this year and a lack of sun-- could this affect it? Squirrels usually only eat the "sweeter" acorns that are low in tannic acid, such as the white oak acorns. Unless there is nothing else to eat, they don't ordinarily eat this type because they are bitter.

The ink is very waterproof, though it turns brown once it's been soaked in water.

Sawtooth Oak Acorn Iron Gall Ink

25 parts sawtooth oak acorns, crushed (Quercus acutissima Carruthers)
2 parts iron sulfate
1 part powdered gum arabic
30 parts distilled water
Several whole cloves


This is the amount of acorns I found, so I used these ingredient amounts:

1 kg (2.2 lbs.) Sawtooth oak acorns, crushed (Quercus acutissima Carruthers)
80 gr (2.82 oz.) iron sulfate
40 gr (1.41 oz.) powdered gum arabic
1331 ml (45 oz.) distilled water
Several whole cloves

Combine the crushed acorns and distilled water into a glass jar and allow to ferment 2 months. (If the jar has a metal lid, use a Saran Wrap barrier between it and the ink when you screw it on.)

Strain through a couple of layers of cloth, squeezing every last drop of liquid you can. Cover and bring the liquid to a boil in a non-reactive pot for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add more distilled water if necessary to bring it up to the original amount of distilled water, 45 ounces.

Add the iron sulfate, stirring with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Add the gum arabic and stir well. Add several whole cloves (for a preservative). Let it set overnight in a clean amber glass jar. It’ll take about this long for the gum arabic to totally dissolve. Stir again. Make a writing sample. It should be a dark gray or black, depending on the paper you use. Yields approximately 40 ounces (1183 ml) of ink.

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The Sawtooth Oak Acorn (Quercus acutissima Carruthers), commonly used as a landscaping tree in the southeast. I found these in a church parking lot, utterly begging me to make ink out of them. :embarrassed_smile:

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Fermenting the crushed acorns


Here's a video for acorn ink, which uses a totally different method than mine, but the results are a lot quicker.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV0l3KbnYAo

Edited by fiberdrunk, 04 December 2012 - 05:03.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#2 J.R.

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 13:58

I'm going to have to file this one away, until next year. We only have red oaks up here, and they only bear acorns every other year. I'm gonna be a busy man next year, what with your walnut recipe, and now the acorn recipe !

J.R.

#3 Lloyd

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 15:32

Have you tried adding mulling spices?
:roflmho:
"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."
Oscar Wilde

#4 fiberdrunk

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 16:55

Have you tried adding mulling spices?
:roflmho:


Not yet, but it might be a nice idea for scented ink! The cloves do make the ink smell better.
Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#5 fiberdrunk

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 03:33

I checked the written samples I made of this ink less than a week ago, and the ink is already browning on the Sugarmade paper, and it's turning an olive green on the others (Strathmore 100% cotton, Hammermill Ultra Premium Inkjet, Office Max Copypaper, and Stuart Hall Executive Planning Pad Graph Paper) So this is not a stable ink and not one for longevity. I would recommend doubling the amount of acorns and leaving all the other ingredient amounts the same. The tannic acid content of the acorns was probably too low. I'll try again next year! :bonk:

Edited by fiberdrunk, 07 December 2012 - 03:34.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

#6 AD356

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 14:37

I noticed you didn't add any vinegar to the mix, what was your reason behind this? I thought it would be needed to make the effect with the Iron. Thanks for posting I will have to try this one out and see what other types of acorns do.
-Alan

#7 fiberdrunk

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 17:10

I noticed you didn't add any vinegar to the mix, what was your reason behind this? I thought it would be needed to make the effect with the Iron. Thanks for posting I will have to try this one out and see what other types of acorns do.



Acorns have tannic acid (and fermenting them helps convert them to gallotannic acid) so vinegar (also acidic) is not necessary. For the most part I prefer using distilled water in iron gall ink recipes over vinegar and alcohol. I might try adding vinegar to this batch to see if it helps, since I came up short.

Here's a little info to help you with the acorns. Aleppo oak galls from the middle east have 50-70% gallotannic acid (they're the Rolls Royce of galls for ink-making). Here is the tannic acid concentration in acorns, roughly (and I believe weather can affect these amounts from year to year, too). The "low," "medium high," and "high" refers to amounts of tannic acid for an acorn, but compared with aleppo and other oak galls, they are all quite low by comparison. You will need a lot to make ink. Next year I plan to at least double the amount of sawtooth oak acorns in the above recipe because it wasn't enough this year. Pomegranate peels have about 28%, for another comparison.

Low:
White Oak (.5-2.5%)

Medium High:

Pin Oak
Red Oak
Bur Oak
Sawtooth Oak (6-9%)

High:

Black Oak
Live Oak

For the aleppo gall recipe, I use a ratio of 3 parts aleppo galls to 2 parts copperas. For a medium-high acorn, I'd go with 50 parts acorns to 2 parts copperas.

Edited by fiberdrunk, 20 December 2012 - 17:36.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik