Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Ink Cocktails

To facilitate the use of writing instruments, Palimpsest recommends that writers first endeavour to lubricate their thoughts and minds with these reputable ink cocktails. After all 'Tis the season. Palimpsest raises its glass to all fellow bloggers and dear readers and wishes an inkfull new year to all.

The recipes come from the classic Savoy Cocktail Book of legendary bartender Harry Craddock who worked at the Savoy Hotel in London between 1920 and 1930.

Ink Street Cocktail

2 oz. lemon juice
2 oz. orange juice
2 oz. whiskey
Shake and strain

Fleet Street, London

I presume the cocktail was invented by Craddock for his Press clientele who inhabited Fleet Street, also called Street of Ink (meaning printer’s ink), home of the British newspapers, and famous for its “alcohol-fuelled culture” (it’s all over now). Craddock recommends Canadian Club Whiskey for his Ink Street cocktail and advises shaking the mixture for 10 to 20 seconds before pouring it in a cocktail glass.

Artist’s (Special) Cocktail Or
Ink of Inspiration

1/3 Whisky
1/3 Sherry
1/6 Lemon Juice
1/6 Groseille Syrup

Shake and Strain

Recipe is from Craddock Savoy Cocktail Book and comes with a note:
“This is the genuine ‘Ink of Inspiration’ imbibed at the Bal Bullier Paris. The recipe is from the Artist’s Club, Rue Pigalle, Paris.” An alternative recipe is here.

To those who had to confront the lidless Registrar's ink, Palimpsest raises the Ink of Inspiration in sympathy. My thoughts are with you.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Write, Sharpen and Be Merry

Palimpsest joins in the festivities with some Blackwing Palomino combos.
Happy Holidays, etc. See you in 2011. Write, Sharpen and Be Merry!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Ink for Thought

To get drunk with ink is more worthwhile than to get drunk by brandy.

Gustave Flaubert to George Sand, Saint Sylvester’s night, one o’ clock, 1869

There is no genuine food in the whole world, and ink is food for us.

Friedrich Nietzsche to Malwida von Meysenbug, July 1, 1877

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas Pencil Ads

Looking for something festive to enliven Palimpsest I found those in a blog called sneakpeaks. They are Christmas adverts from around the world (published in 2007). 

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Alizarine Ink

Ah, if I hadn’t had to write all these words! All warmth, immediacy, and energy of feeling are gone the moment the word, veiled in Alizarin ink, stands on the page.

Friedrich Nietzsche to Carl von Gersdorff, Basel, September 1869

Today’s ink comes from the 19th century. Alizarine ink was the creation of one Christian August Leonhardi, who in 1854 set up a chemical plant at the 16th-century site of flour mill and glass factory in Dresden, Germany. In 1855 Leonhardi filed a patent application with the Saxon Ministry of the Interior, where he wrote proudly:

“This ink is different. ... It deserves rightly to be called the best ink known until now and the best and most perfect ink.”

Leonhardi’s innovation was the addition of Alizarin dye which is derived from the madder root. Madder gave Leonhardi’s ink a “beautiful blue-green colour” that turned when dried into the “deepest black.” Alizarine ink did not contain gum Arabic and was advertised as free flowing, perfectly suited to steel pens, indestructible, resistant to the effects of acids, fumes and time.

Leonhardi’s was an unoxidised gall ink, that is oxidation was prevented for as long as possible, thus keeping the ink free from insoluble deposit and giving it much greater power of penetration to the paper, explains Mitchell in Inks their Composition and Manufacture (1904). Indigo made the writing blue and within eight days it turned to black. Leonhardi eventually dropped madder as unnecessary but the ink kept the name Alizarine nevertheless.

Alizarine Ink Recipe
42 oz gall nuts
3 oz madder
7 ½ oz green vitriol
2 oz indigo,
3 oz wood acetate of iron
15 oz water

Boil gall nuts and madder in water to produce 5 lb 20 oz of decoction. Filter. Mix in green vitriol, indigo, iron acetate.

Guaranteed not to mould or leave sediment at the bottom of your inkwell. Alizarine ink can be bought in dry form (ink tablets) and then mixed with 6 parts of hot water to form “an excellent writing fluid” (though the latter claim is doubtful as this method tended to produce particles suspended in water).

Alizarine ink was very popular in its time. Was it the one Nietzsche longs for when he complaints in a letter to Malwida von Meysenbug on Sunday, 1 July 1877:

This ink is terrible and I sent for it especially! But they have not given me the real thing.

Friedrich Nietzsche in Basel, 1875

The Leonhardi company survived until 1953 and today produces ink under the name of “Barock.” The company’s website has an online museum with images of Leonhardi’s old factory, info about its history and the ink recipe and patent. Leonhardi’s ink is mentioned in David Carvalho’s Forty Centuries of Ink (1904) and in The Household Cyclopedia of General Information (1881) where a recipe can also be found. See also C. Ainsworth Mitchell, Inks Their Composition and Manufacture including methods of examination and a full list of English patents, London 1904.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Conspiracy Against WikiLeaks Deprives Man of Writing Instruments

Reading the WikiLeaks latest, I couldn't resist a free association with the post of September, 25: "Catholic Conspiracy Deprives Man of Ink."

Arrested on December, 7 Julian Assange was transferred to the segregation unit of Wandsworth prison. His lawyer protested that Assange "doesn't have access to a computer, even without an internet connection, or to writing material. He's got some files but doesn't have any paper to write on and put them in."

"Pen, ink and paper to be forbidden a man is an extraordinary restraint," the defenders of Titus Oates protested in 1769.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Jane Austen, her Pen, her Ink

Today’s pen and ink extracts come from Jane Austen. High-quality images of her manuscripts are gathered together in the Jane Austen Fiction Manuscripts Digital Edition, where they can be examined closely. I admit that I delight more in the description of the manuscripts than in Jane Austen’s actual writings, which I have not got around to reading yet.

“The manuscript is written into a shop-bought late 18th-century quarto stationer’s notebook impossible to date precisely. It is bound with quarter tanned sheep over boards sided with marbled paper. The edges of the leaves are plain cut and sprinkled red.”

“The parchment cover is faded to yellow and heavily stained with ink.”

“The manuscript is written and corrected throughout in a variety of brown iron-gall inks and with some variations in the hand.”

“There is a pencil inscription at the head of the left pastedown ‘To my brother, Frank’.

If I was ever offered a job as chief descriptor of manuscript, I would accept. Take note, if anyone’s listening.

Jane Austen, like her contemporaries, wrote with a quill pen and used iron gall ink. The Jane Austen Centre has just the recipe for latter provided by Jane Austen’s sister-in-law:

Take 4 ozs of blue gauls [gallic acid, made from oak apples], 2 ozs of green copperas [iron sulphate], 1 1/2 ozs of gum arabic. Break the gauls. The gum and copperas must be beaten in a mortar and put into a pint of strong stale beer; with a pint of small beer. Put in a little refin'd sugar. It must stand in the chimney corner fourteen days and be shaken two or three times a day. 

A quote from Pride and Prejudice is also presented: I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me cut it for you. I mend pens remarkably well.

In her letters to her sister Cassandra, Jane Austen occasionally despairs about the quality of her quill pen.

“I must get a soften pen. This is harder. I am in agonies. ... I am going to write nothing but short sentences. There shall be two full stops in every line.” (Sept. 15, 1813)

“... as my pen seems inclined to write large I will put my lines very close together. ... The day seems to improve. I wish my pen would too.” (Nov. 3, 1813)

I agree.

Letters of Jane Austen published by the University of Virginia Library. See her writing desk in Jane Austen’s World blog. Portrait of Jane Austen by her sister Cassandra, in pencil and watercolour.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Inkwell of Stéphane Mallarmé, or Why Write

L’ encrier, cristal comme une conscience,

avec sa goutte, au fond, de ténèbres
relative à ce quelque chose soit:
puis, écarte la lampe.

Tu remarquas, on n’écrit pas, lumineusement
sur champ obscure, l’ alphabet des astres,
seul, ainsi, s’ indique, ébauché ou
interrompu; l’ home poursuit noir
sur blanc.

The inkwell, crystalline like consciousness
with its drop, at bottom, of shadows
relative to letting something be:
then, take the lamp away.

You noted, one does not write, luminously,
on a dark field; the alphabet of stars
alone does that, sketched or
interrupted; man pursues black
upon white.

Stéphane Mallarmé is credited for giving “a signifying function to the materiality – the blanks, the typefaces, the placement on the page, the punctuation – of writing.” He has written that the act of writing in its materiality, in its movement confirms the writer’s existence. The act of writing applied on paper sends a “force in some direction, any direction, which, when encountered, gives you immunity from having no result.”

Why write? Why not keep silent? Captain Nemo and I had had a small exchange regarding the reason – the necessity, or the inevitability – of writing. One writes to leave a trace, even if it is not a trace of clarity, even if it’s a trace of ignorance, says Mallarmé. “Your act is always applied to paper, for meditating without a trace is evanescent, nor is the exalting of an instinct in some vehement, lost gesture what you were seeking.”

Stumbled upon the Mallarmé analysis while looking for his inkwell in Jackson Pollock: Interviews, Articles and Reviews, 1943-1993 edited by Pepe Karmel (Museum of Modern Art 2000). Translation from whitneyannetrettien blog.