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Arts and Crafts

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The History Of Ink

Ink, in one form or another, has been around practically as long as mankind. Even the cavemen already used it for arty expressions on the walls of their caves.

All over the world, cultures made their own ink and used it for expressing themselves. At first, that was through drawings, and later on through the written word. The composition of the ink and the fabrication were often determined either by analysis of archaeological finds, or from past records.

As early as 2300 BC, the Chinese used natural plant dyes, animal glue, and graphite, which were grounded with water. Evidence of ink used in India in 400 BC shows they made it of burnt bones, tar, pitch, and other compounds.

The inks which were mainly used throughout history are carbon ink made out of soot and animal glue and iron gall ink. The latter was invented in the 9th century in Medieval Europe for writing on parchment and vellum for which the carbon ink was not suitable.

Iron gall ink was made by mixing tannic acid with an iron salt and adding gum to increase the flow and sustainability of the ink. The disadvantages of this type of ink were however, that the writings faded overtime, it was corrosive and damaged the paper.

The use of ink increased substantially with the invention of the printing press and later on with the introduction of ball points, computers, and printers.

There are some environmental objections against the ink at present due to the use of heavy metals, non-renewable oils, and volatile organic compounds. Eco-friendly ink is more desired and is being obtained from octopuses living in the eastern oceans.

I don't think our ancestors saw the writing on the wall of ink becoming so important!

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