Friday, 8 October 2010

Ink on Toast

Printer’s ink is made solely with the smoke of rosin [lampblack] and is tempered with liquid varnish. It must be seethed a little to make it more liquid and [or] harder. In winter, it needs to be more liquid than in summer. To make it flow more, add more linseed or walnut oil. To thicken, add less oil and more smoke and let it boil for longer. The thicker it is, the more beautiful, clean, black and glossy the letters are. However you make it, it must be mixed thoroughly. To print in red, add perfectly ground vermilion in place of said smoke.
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This secret renaissance recipe published in 16th-century Venice provides some clues as to how printing ink was made. It is quoted in Jo Wheeler’s book Renaissance Secrets which contains more tantalizing details on early ink. Ink on toast for example: for those not acquainted with this delicacy let it be known that the print workers in Salamanca, Spain, “when they make the varnish... eat the linseed oil spread on toast, and their hands black with varnish, eat the bread covered with ink.”

It is not difficult to see how a 21st ink enthusiast would be tempted to do the exact same. Especially after watching the “How Ink is Made” video clip posted by Woodclinched. Edible, delectable, luscious, glossy ink as prepared by the craftsmen of the Printing Ink Company.

The printing house of Christophe Plantin in 1581 was, says Wheeler, unsurpassed in Europe. The ink was bought in large quantities from Antwerp where it was manufactured by specialist ink makers. I am sure their ink was superb too ~ I’d love to find out more about those 16th-century ancriers  or faiseurs d’encre.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder whether this type of ink is not very likely to mould after contact with paper, especially in hot countries.