Just a Little Bit of Confusion Over Galls !

So firstly I am not a science specialist, therefor I was expecting to find some of the sessions quite confusing however one of the only times I became slightly puzzled in the woods was when we were making ink from Galls. Sounds quite simple… however what a Gall is was beyond me and how on earth you make ink from these was even further beyond me! As Duncan went on about the magic of galls I think I blanked out a little watching the fire fairies, which is safe to say did not help my confusion when all of a sudden ink had been created!

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I now know that those small round shaped things that I was looking at so blankly are Galls! Galls are abnormal growths on trees caused by invasions of insects such as wasps. It all starts off when a female wasp lays eggs in the central vein on oak leaves. When the larvae hatch a chemical and hormone reaction between the wasp eggs and oak causes the tree to grow around and form a gall. Galls provide a safe home as well as food for the young wasps.

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Ok so now we know what a gall is! Just the ink part left to go!

 

It turns out that if you crush galls (the more powdered the better as this increases the surface area) and then mix them with iron and water, once they are heated up they create an ink. This is because the tannic acid inside the galls reacts with the iron. We did this by placing the gall mixture on the fire and leaving it for a bit before using it to write messages. It turns out that this form of ink was very popular during the Shakespearian times therefor when writing we of course used a feather- although I’m not to sure that Shakespeare used pink feathers to write with!

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References:

http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/galls-oak

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/resources/research-curation/projects/chalcidoids/pdf_X/Willia2010.pdf

https://wildernessguide.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/forest-oak-gall-ink/

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