Sunday, 27 May 2012

Talking of the middle ages..

Sorry folks, if you'd read the last post that was almost a link...

I am dead excited.
I have feathers (...it is handy working in a zoo).
I have oak apples (procured from the one oak tree i could find in my local park...much undignified jumping to reach high branches...it wasn't pretty).


Now what in blue blazes do I want with those?
  
Well dear reader, inspired by trips to Durham, talk of the Lindisfarne Gospels, and my trip to see Leo (Da Vinci, not Sayer), I have decided to go old school; making my own 'iron gall' ink, and then making my own quill pens (properly this time!!) to draw with.
I now need a few extra ingredients for the ink, such as iron sulphate (I'll let you know if I get arrested asking for this at the chemist), gum arabic (which I must be able to distill from a packet of Wrigleys), and tincture of myrrh.  I will be calling for a lot of assistance I think on my mum and dad, who are medical herbalists, but also know a thing or two about making plant dyes etc, and found me the recipe for the ink...check the Herbarium - it is a mine of information for anyone with even a passing interest in herbal medicine and the use of plants.


Not only do I get to nerd out over pens and ruin at least one of the kitchen pans, but it's made me come over all botanical too.  The only time I'd really seen oak apples was in autumn...hard brown dusty things with an exit hole or two in the side.  These ones I are kinda squashy.  And then I found some that had no case and were all fuzzy...were they the same thing?


Now I know that oak apples are formed as the result if an insect making its home on the tree and then the 'apple' is formed around it, but I don't know if the apple is formed by the insect or the tree.  And what kind of insect  lives inside?  Hard to say at the mo, but there were lots of eggs...although when I cut this one open I did have one little grubby thing waving back at me.  And it's fairly clear that the apple and the fuzz are one and the same....


I will let you know how my research goes, whether I win any prizes for it, and what the bill for clearing any subsequent infestations of my house comes to...

4 comments:

Bella said...

It will be interesting to see the result. (You might know already, but gum arabic is available in most arty shops, next to the water colour tubes usually).

Sam Church said...

Hey Bella - and thanks, yep I know about about gum arabic being available from art shops...much better than trying to extract it from jelly tots etc!

Keith said...

Sir, I applaud your dedication to authenticity.

Might I suggest your first subject matter should be a dureresque study of the oak leaves.

Just be careful of those wriggly things.

Sam Church said...

Dureresque? That's easy for you to say! Any way, might try walking before running with that one..