Make you own iron-gall ink

Ramiro Espinoza
Ramiro Espinoza Posts: 839
edited October 2012 in Technique and Theory
I frequently recommend to people interested in calligraphy, to learn how to prepare their own iron-gall ink. This is one of the most important old formulas and it was used all over Europe for manuscripts and art works.

Using a good calligraphic ink is a must if you want to reproduce the finer details that can be seen in the work of the old masters. There are several formulas and it worth experimenting a bit. In this site sponsored by the Dutch government you can get a lot of informations and several recipes:

My experience with it (in spanish):

Good luck!


  • Peter Fraterdeus
    Peter Fraterdeus Posts: 4
    edited August 2014
    One problem with Iron Gall is that it can be corrosive (although as wikipedia points out, there are plenty of ancient examples in good shape)
    Carbon based inks (ie Chinese or "india") are generally non-corrosive, but are rather dependent on the binding medium (resin or gum) to be permanent, since the carbon does not stain the medium like gall inks. Without a binder, the carbon may eventually rub away.
    Walnut ink is excellent for fine-line drawing.