Magical Ink Making
I came up with some recipes for magical inks and then got together with my apprentice to make a test batch to see if the method would work. We started with the recipe for black ink as my other recipes had more expensive ingredients. I boiled Alder bark for about 5 hours to get a very dark brown. You’d need to boil it forever for the dye from the bark to turn black. Local natives used to use this simple dye to stain their fishing nets black so the fish couldn’t see them. Once we had a concentrated dye from the bark I added it to my smaller dye pot and my apprentice and I added gum arabic and myrrh resins along with crushed dried spiders and lampblack.
You can make your own lampblack by collecting it from candle or oil lanterns or buy holding a spoon over a candle and scraping off the black residue (lampblack) that forms on the metal. This takes forever to accumulate enough lampblack for an ink — especially if you are making a large batch. If you’re only making enough for a small vial for yourself, then this method is viable. One way to cheat is to purchase a high quality tube of black watercolour that is purely lampblack and gum arabic — two ingredients you’re going to need anyway. You still need other bases for the colour however (like the Alder bark) or you’ll just be writing with diluted watercolours and it’s not the same as an ink nor is it as strong. I would only recommend this cheat for a black ink though.
Once the ink was blended and the writing tests showed the right consistency and darkness of colour, we allowed the ink to cool and then strained it through a very fine sieve (handcrafted inks can be pretty gritty). I had to add a little more alcohol at this point to thin it as the ink thickened when cooling. Then I poured the ink in pretty wide-mouthed bottles and had a bit of fun testing it out. And voilà, lovely handmade magical ink!