Making Ink and a Quill Pen

I love knowing how to do things myself. Everyday I wonder what I would do without this store or that product. As a writer it gets even more complicated when imagining life without computers or printing presses, but thankfully I know a bit about making my own ink and quill feather pen. I have some knowledge of making paper, but that is much more involved.

For me, making ink is all about the berries. I live in Missouri so we have an abundance of elderberries. Best of all they stain very well and grow all over my property.

We collect as many as possible. But beware: They are poisonous until cooked so cannot be eaten raw.

It is best to squeeze them directly in a small pot. A 1 quart sauce pot is enough.

Boiling with a bit of water helps for preservation but if you wish, adding a splash or two of vinegar with a sprinkle of salt helps as well.

They make a rich magenta that holds very well. But there is still goop and berry skin to strain. Get out a small ink pot and set the strainer to filter the ink through.

And voila!

Now for the quill. I am not a perfectionist, and clearly no expert, but If you just take a pocket knife and shave the feathers back to make room for your hand to grip it when writing it begins to shape properly.

Then the tip needs to be cut at an angle and sharpened. I like to prepare it for cutting by burning the tip, then shaping the slanted point. On the longer end a slit should be cut down the center to hold the ink.

Once everything is ready I like to write on thick sketch paper. Lighting at least 1 candle also feels right if I’m not working on a paper by candlelight haha

I don’t do this often. This year was the first time in many ages, but it’s well worth the effort and a fun craft project for young ones.

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