it’s black liquor time

“…In the eleventh century, an Italian monk named Theophilus began to make what Samuel Johnson, some seven centuries later, would call “the black liquor with which men write,” by cutting hawthorn branches before they produced blossoms or leaves in the early spring. He laid them in a shady spot for up to eight weeks until they dried out, pounded them with mallets, and peeled off their bark. He put the bark in barrels of water for eight days to allow the water to draw off the sap, then he dumped the water into a big cauldron, heated it over a fire, threw in more bark, boiled the liquid down to a third of its original volume, transferred it to a small container, and heated it again until it turned black and began to thicken. “When you see it become thick,” he concluded, “add a third part of pure wine, put it in two or three new pots and continue to heat it until you see that it develops a kind of skin at the top.”

Got that?

(from Page Fright, by Harry Bruce, McClelland & Stewart, 2009)

2 thoughts on “it’s black liquor time

  1. Thank you for this reference. I am researching ink for an M.A. dissertation in Communications and Culture, and this is very helpful.

    1. I can’t even guess the google search that led you to this post, but I’m glad it proved useful. Good luck with the work; it sounds interesting…

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