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The ink that Leonardo da Vinci wrote with, and Rembrandt and Van Gogh drew with was made from oak galls. 



The oak wasp lays her leg on a developing leaf bud and amazingly the oak tree grows a protective marble sized shell around it. 

The larvae then undergo metamorphosis into adults wasps and chew their way out of the oak gall leaving the artist with the natural raw ingredient to a light fast ink.


Cup of Oak Galls

Gum Arabic

Copperas (ferrous sulphate - plant food) 

Rain Water

Pestle and Mortar (or a hammer)


Ink bottle

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1. Smash the oak galls into small pieces in your pestle and mortar.

2. Put the oak gall fragments into a jar and cover with rainwater. Leave the jar on a windowsill for a few days. You want to allow time for the tannic acid to seep out and turn the liquid a dark brown.

3. Sieve your mixture into a jar and add a table spoon of gum Arabic to make the ink adhere to paper and 1.5 table spoons of copperas to turn the mixture a dark brown over time (the ink turns jet black when exposed to the air). 

4. Bottle your ink ready for use. As we have used rainwater, a naturally distilled water the ink will last a very long time.