Author Topic: Iron Gall Ink  (Read 9265 times)

Offline lisaridgely

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Iron Gall Ink
« on: October 31, 2013, 02:55:04 PM »
Does anyone have any thoughts to share on iron gall ink? I've never tried it, but am considering ordering some (Old World Iron Gall, particularly). I know it is known to be corrosive, but I am especially curious as to how severe/fast it eats away at the nibs. My go-to nib (Brause 511) is already a bit delicate, so I'm wondering if it will corrode it so quickly that it wouldn't even be practical to use them together.

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2013, 11:54:08 AM »
Hi Lisa,
I have used McCaffrey's ink (which has an iron gall base) for many years. I absolutely loved it. It is such a smooth ink and produces some beautiful thin hairlines. Perfect if I wanted to keep the shade from lettering but trickier if doing work for reproduction because the hairlines were so fine they could be lost.

However, this last batch I bought, I found it literally ate my nibs up! I mean within just a few sittings my nibs were corroding right on the pen! This had never happened before.

I caught a post on cyberscribes that other people were experiencing the same problem. But I lost my ability to access that email which was on a different computer and I haven't figured out how to add it on my new one yet so I don't know if anyone had solution!

Other than that, I haven't used any other brand.
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline lisaridgely

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2013, 03:49:18 PM »
Thanks for the input, Erica! I haven't tried McCaffrey's...I've wanted to - I think the red-violet color looks so pretty! - but I've heard that people have had trouble with them growing mold, and the thought just icks me out, so I've been hesitant. Did you ever have that problem with McCaffrey's, living in Florida where it is so warm and humid?


Offline FrenchBlue Joy

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2013, 08:02:45 AM »
I've used McCaffery's penman's black and ivory.

The ivory grew mold!  It was kind of gross-- but the thins are amazing.  Much much finer than with Dr. Martin's pen-white, or gouache. 

Offline Jane Farr

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2013, 03:34:38 PM »
I like the appearance iron gall gives, but I hate what it does to my nibs.  I won't use it on client pieces either, because I'm afraid it (and the client) might come back to haunt me.  I love the thin and delicate lines I can achieve with McCaffery's inks, but if I don't use it quickly enough or seal it well, then it does start to grow some interesting and smelly organisms....
Jane Farr
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Offline lisaridgely

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2013, 09:27:39 AM »
Thank you so much, Joy and Jane! I think I might order a bottle just to try and see, with the expectation that it will eat up my nibs and perhaps get a bit icky! I also like the way those amazing fine hairlines look, so I'd like to try writing with it just for that experience!

Offline lisaridgely

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2013, 04:02:32 PM »
So, I ordered a bottle of McCaffery's Penman's Ink in black. I loved it, of course - so nice to write with, and lovely fine hairlines. And, as expected, I did notice it affecting my nib. I didn't use it to the point of completely destroying it, but I wrote about one page with it, and by the end, I could tell a difference in the way the nib wrote, and it looked and felt different as well, more so than usual for that amount of writing. Still, it's a beautiful ink, and I'm glad I got a bottle to use here and there!

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2013, 08:05:56 PM »
Lisa, doesn't it write smooth?! I also like the smell! I don't understand why the ink is doing that now. It never used to do that. I used McCaffrey's when I was addressing envelopes for years and I never had this problem. I couldn't believe it, the latest bottle I bought, it literally ate up the nib on the pen as I worked over a couple of hours. I'll shoot a message to John Neal and see what he thinks.
Truly, Erica
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Offline Estefa

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2013, 05:06:10 AM »
I am using this

http://www.kalligraphie.ch/store/index.php/language/en/cat/c55_Eisengallustinte.html/

iron gall ink, and I think it's wonderful to write with. I never had problems with mold or something, and I am using a big (500 ml) bottle.  Fresh from the bottle it is light grey (gets darker on the page after some days though). I put a little bit in a smaller ink jar and leave this open so it oxidezes already a little. And when I have used up or it has evaporated too much I fill it up with new ink from the bottle and stir it a bit with a toothpick. So it's always nice and black from the beginning.

As others have said, like I guess all iron gall inks it does eat the nib faster than other inks so to save my vintage nibs I use now for everyday practice more often walnut ink, also from Mr. Schenk:

http://www.kalligraphie.ch/store/index.php/cat/c57_Walnut-Ink.html

This is absolutely comparable regarding hairlines and that it stays well on the nib without sudden "blobs" so it is possible to write quite a bit without reloading the nib. But it is not black of course ;)
Stefanie :: Website :: Blog :: Instagram

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2013, 09:42:02 PM »
Oh, I like the logo on the ink website. Walnut ink is my favorite. Thank you for sharing your experiences with the Eisengallus Tinte.

Yesterday another calligrapher posted on Instagram about her Iron Gall ink corroding her nib to the point it snapped after just a short time lettering. I searched a little more and found another recent link where someone said they had the same thing happening with their Higgins Eternal.

I wonder if there isn't something in the supply of iron gall that is causing the ink to be so corrosive so much quicker than it used to be. Hope it isn't something in the atmosphere!
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline Estefa

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2013, 04:10:02 AM »
That sounds extreme, about this fast corrosion of the nibs! I am still quite new to this, and I don't write for hours each and every day, but I used some nibs for weeks with my iron gall ink. Maybe it is something to do with the recipes of these two inks you mentioned, that they are more acidic than they used to be? I mean common sense tells me that this should not be happening iron gall ink has been used for hundreds of years after all (with quills of course, but in the two last century also with steel nibs as far as I am informed). Did you get a response from John Neal?

Thanks for answering to my post!

I also love walnut ink it is so warm and lively.
Stefanie :: Website :: Blog :: Instagram

Offline schin

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2013, 11:21:25 PM »
I use Old World ink primarily and indeed it is very corrosive. I have had nibs snap in half while in use. One time I dropped an Esterbrook or maybe a Gillott 303 in a bottle of iron gall and a few weeks later when I was cleaning out the bottle, what's left of the nib fell out like charred rust and crumbled away.

On the other hand, I have month old nibs that work perfectly fine even with thorough use with iron gall. I don't know why one snaps and another lasts so long! I keep all my nibs very clean. Maybe it's just the kind of metal they  use.

As for McCaffery's, I love their ink but could never get the black ink working fine. It will always gum up on me or grow mold and I have to toss half of it away. This has happened about three times, so I gave up and use Old World ink now. But, the colored McCaffery's are perfectly fine and never gave me a problem. Strange!
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2013, 08:10:54 PM »
I have never tried to Old World. I'll have to give it a try. Although at the rate it's eating your nibs maybe not!

I really like the grayish black of the McCaffery's and how it darkens to black afterwards. I read somewhere that if it gums up and molds, it's a bad batch. I have had bottles for years that haven't done that. But it's the newer bottles that are corroding nibs so fast.

The colored McCaffery's are GREAT! The indigo blue is my favorite!  ;D
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline Nickkih

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2014, 05:27:45 PM »
Omg I received a gift from my hubby. Iron Gall ink. He got me McCafferys black, Old World Black and Blots Medieval recipe iron gall. Wow they are beautiful to write with. And the colors so beautiful as your writing and once it dries. I've been keeping an eye on my nibs because some of you said it was eating the nibs. But so far I haven't noticed that. Like Erica said it might have just been a bad batch. Anyway just wanted to share my thoughts & experience on the subject :-)
Mom, Grandma, and Calligrapher

Offline YokePenCo

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Re: Iron Gall Ink
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2014, 06:08:56 PM »
Blotts is one of the most acidic recipes made. I love it but it does eat your nibs fast. All iron gall is acidic and will corrode your nib. Some manufactuers actually lower the ph with chemicals to reduce the effect, but the Gall ink HAS to be acidic to work. I use McCaffery's, Blotts and Old World Exclusively for black ink. The hairlines are fabulous. Just rinse your nib often while writing. Rinse well in CLEAN water and dry once your are done and the nibs will last a decent amount of time.

In regards to the mold, it is a natural by-product of Iron Gall ink and will happen no matter what. An Oak Gall is a natural growth and contains living materials. It is produced by when a Gall Wasp lays its eggs into the bud of an oak tree. The tree encases the larva in a growth to protect itself. People harvest them and make ink out of them because they are high in tannin, galls are naturally high in acid content and it helps bond the ink to the paper by "burning" into the surface. Iron Sulfate is typically added to darken it to a black color and exposure to the air darkens the iron even further.  Anyhow, due to the ink containing living organisms they will mold and create growths.

Simply remove the mold or sludge from the ink with a stir stick and discard and its ready to use again. Iron Gall ink actually gets better with age (like all of us )  ;D

Oak Gall Image Below
Christopher J. Yoke
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