"Go, write it in a martial hand; be curst and brief; it is no matter how witty, so it be eloquent, and full of invention: taunt him with the license of ink...Let there be gall enough in thy ink, though thou write with a goose-pen, no matter: about it." (Sir Toby Belch, Twelfth Night, Shakespeare, 3.2.42)
Looking at the dry innards of the galls, I wonder how anyone thought that ink could be made from them. Here is a recipe to try:
In equal amounts add chopped up oak galls, water, ferrous sulfate, and gum arabic. Let the mixture sit for a couple of weeks, stirring occasionally.
The Internet is full of ideas about making oak gall ink. An inventive person suggested using steel wool in place of the iron sulfate (if you have an aversion to using toxic chemicals like I do) or placing the galls and water in an old iron pot to soak. Another alternative would be to soak iron nails in vinegar first and then add them to the mixture.
In folklore medicine, oak gall extract, without the ferrous sulfate, is used to improve woman's vaginal health. But I use the ink to draw with because I love its warm sepia tones.
I'm having trouble making the galls look round and three-dimensional so I draw one because I know I can make that happen with a pencil.
Now at last, I am beginning to realize the shapes. Just a sketch, but good practice:
Today is a day of looking closely at something I've collected, to understand how it is formed and what its uses are. What do you collect that makes you want to know more about it?