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Every time you pick up a pen whether it’s a fountain pen or rollerball or a ballpoint, do you find yourself pondering over the origins of ink? Perhaps not in such depth, however, when customers visit our store in Ottawa’s ByWard Market, we really enjoy answering such questions as “How is ink made?”.
If you don’t live in Ottawa or the surrounding area, we would like to briefly address this question and share some interesting links where you can learn more about the history and science of ink.
Answering the question of how ink is made is easier if we go back in time a little...around 4500 years ago. Ink is believed to have been invented in both China and Egypt at the same time. This first ink was made of soot and charcoal which is why early examples of writing are always black. Soot and charcoal were easy to come by unlike other colours which could be made of such things as berries, ochre and iron and many other sources of colour.
Well-known India ink, first invented in China, was made of materials traded with India, hence the name. Roughly 1,600 years ago, the most popular recipe was created and used for many centuries since. According to Wikipedia, iron salts were mixed with tannin from gallnuts and a thickener. This produced a bluish-black ink which faded to a dull brown once dry.
If you would like to read a more expanded history of ink Wikipedia is an excellent resource as is History Today where images depicting the use of ink are included.
Today, pen ink is made following a similar recipe to the one that was first used 1,600 years ago.
Essentially, ink is made up of two parts - the pigment or dye and what is called the carrier. According to Wikipedia, ink, while initially quite a simple recipe can be made of a far more complex medium depending upon the desired writing experience.
Sciencing explains that with the right combination of resins, dyes, lubricants, solubilizers and other materials, ink can be created to meet many purposes and writing instruments from fountain pen, to gel pens, rollerballs and more. It is the carrier, colourants and other additions to the ink that affect the viscosity, flow from the pen and the way ink appears once dry.
While there are 2 different classifications for ink: printing and writing (and putting aside tattooing), our obvious focus at Paper Papier is on inks for writing. While we offer some of the best inks available, we are most proud of our unique ink bar. If you are lucky enough to live in or near Ottawa, we invite you to meet over a bottle of ink at our ink bar.