Monday 11 April 2011

April A to Z blogging challenge Ink

This challenge is inspired and initiated by Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out.

The Chinese are credited with discovering and developing the first forms of ink. Made from a combination of pine smoke soot and lamp oil mixed with gelatine made from donkey skin and musk, it was used to blacken the surfaces of raised hieroglyphics carved in stone. The first known use of ink dates from around the 18th century BC.

In India, ink developed and used since the 4th century BC was made from burnt bones and tar. Other ancient cultures devised inks using natural colours from berries, plants and minerals.

By 400 AD a basic formula for ink was created and remained in use for centuries. It was a composition of iron salts, gallnuts, tannin and a thickener. It was known as iron gall ink. When first used the ink was bluish-black, soon deepening to black and fading after years to the brown colour familiar from old documents.

From the 20th century onwards ink production became an industrial process.

Today it is possible to buy a huge range of inks in many splendid colours. For example, Noodler’s inks are produced in a variety of vibrant colours and for the most important documents, when recording must be preserved at all costs, waterproof/bulletproof inks are guaranteed to be permanent. The ink bonds with the celluloid in paper and, once dry, cannot be removed with water, acid, alcohol, solvents, bleach. It will not fade and will be as sharp as the day it was used. It is said that the ink will outlast the paper it is written on! 


  1. Interesting information about ink. Have you read Victoria Finlay's book 'Colour, Travels Through the Paintbox'? It is a fascinating book about the history of colour in paints.

  2. bullet proof ink? Would the paper have to be bullet proof too?

    I wonder how many people still use pen and ink nowadays?

  3. Whenever I read how the ancients invented something I am amazed at their genius. Ink that outlasts the paper is interesing.

  4. Fascinating! The Chinese were so clever to think of mixing soot, lamp oil and gelatin. I've never heard of Noodler’s inks before but I'll keep it in mind if I ever write anything important. :)

  5. The first time I used chinese ink was in art school, it's just great to work with it !
    The red ink I hated because it was used by our teachers !!

  6. I've never heard of Noodler's ink. Where in the world can you find that I wonder.

  7. even now, the Chinese calligraphy serious people still prefer to use a dry stick of ink, rub it against a base with water. They say this is the best ink.

  8. Ink that outlasts the paper? Wow. Fascinating post!

    Ellie Garratt

  9. I am currently reading a book about colour specifically the origins and countries asscoiated with developong each colur. A lifetime is not enough to learn about colour.

  10. I'm impressed! 'Though I've dabbled in pen and ink, I never knew that! Thanks for the education! ☼

  11. Interesting information. Thank goodness for the ingenuity of ink and paper. Chiseling on stone would be such a hassle, carrying a book made like that would be too heavy, and libraries would be the size of cities.

    Tossing It Out
    Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

  12. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, Janice. i'm old enough to remember having ink wells on our school desks in Ireland...:)


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