Those of you who read the last thrilling installment are probably expecting to hear about the mezuzah was asked to prepare. However, before one leaps into such an endeavour, one must practice one’s letter forms and some serious research needs to be undertaken, not least of which is how to make ink.
Vivian had given me a small jam jar of d'yo kosher ink made by a master sofer, but whilst many scribes buy their ink from others a good scribe should really know how to make their own. One recipe (there are several) calls for iron sulphate crystals and tannic acid. Vivian told me that I could get them at the chemist, so I went to the one around the corner. "I know this might sound a bit odd", I say to the pharmacist, "but I would like to buy some Iron Sulphate and Tannic acid". He informs me that it is now illegal to buy such chemicals over the counter as I might be making a bomb! I tell him that I want to make ink and he suggests I go to a printer. "There isn’t a lot of call for it nowadays", he says as I leave. He’s probably right.
Undaunted, I make my way to another chemists, a bit further away. ‘Ahhah’, I think as I spot the elderly lady behind the counter sporting a huge gold Magen David - ‘at least she might understand’. A few minutes later, I leave the shop arranging to pick up 500 gms of Iron Sulphate the next morning. I only need 10gms to make my first batch, so it looks like I’ll be making a lot of ink. Tannic acid was proving more difficult and the pharmacist promises to look into it for me. At least this one didn’t think I was a dangerous terrorist!