Happenings 11-16-12


It has been a while since I posted and thought I should put an update in.


I have been playing around with quills and writing with them on paper.  Velum would be an ideal choice but paper is just so much cheaper.  I have managed to cut a quill down to 0.5 mm in size and write with it.  Yes, that was a goose wing feather called a first.  Amazing how little ink (iron oak gall of course) gets used at that size of a quill.  I cold write for many lines with just one dipping of the quill.

For lines I’m using a lead/tin stylus.  Of interesting note lead/tin alloy are often called pewter though “modern” pewter that is used for drinking cups and figurines have no lead in them anymore.  I don’t know when that started happening but sometime in the past 30ish years I am told.  But I have digressed.  I have used some graphite lines as well.  I simply can not tell the difference between the graphite (H6) lines and the lead/tin stylus lines.  Sure a regular eraser will reveal the difference but for now, I find no difference in looks.  There is a world of difference in application of the lines and using the lead/tin stylus and the graphite pencil.  For one, the lead/tin stylus bends when it gets warm.

Ink Making

I am playing with some logwood dye at the moment.  Logwood is a common additive ingredient to oak gall inks.  It is supposed to make the ink blacker.  One (modern) source I read said that logwood turns black in the air.  I put 1 gram of logwood in with 5 cc of filtered water in a non-reactive container (small plastic container) on November 1, 2012.  It was a nice amber/orange color.  Today, it is the exact same color.  I declare that MYTH BUSTED.

My research shows that chemical we are playing with in logwood is hematoxylin (MSDS) which is an acid/base indicator and turns all sorts of wonderful colors. Here is a very good article on logwood that has some great pictures you can click on to make bigger.  What my research hasn’t found is if the logwood turns black because of the iron or for some other reason.  I will be testing this another time.  I do know that it turns black with Iron Sulfate (called correctly Ferrous Sulfate.)  I plan to test ratios for this and also test how well it works in ink as well.

Some research of mine has stated that logwood makes the ink more likely to break down over time and thus the additive of logwood was disallowed in 17th century Britain for the use of royal records of any kind.  However, other research shows that it is a required ingredient in DYO ink the ink used to write the Torah which is supposed to last a very very long time.  Obviously more research in this area is needed.


This past weekend at the Known World Academy of Rapier/Known World Costuming Symposium held in a suburb of Chicago, I was elevated and admitted into the Order of the Evergreen.  The Order of the Evergreen is the Grant Level Award for Arts and Science in the Middle Kingdom of the SCA.  I was admitted to this order for my Ink Making and Calligraphy.  His Majesty Dag VII also mentioned my Scroll Blank Challenge that I ran last year in a favorable manner.

SCA Activities

Hey speaking of the scroll blank challenge, upon request from the Dragon Herald, I have re-issued the Middle Kingdom Scroll Blank Challenge  This year we are NOT doing the scroll case challenge simply because we have enough scroll cases.  One thing to note about materials.  If it isn’t animal skin, it isn’t the right kind of parchment or velum.

Okay that brings you up to date on my doings and accomplishments in the SCA

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