May 1, 2008

Strawberry Ink

We're continuing our study of American history with The Hatmaker's Sign and Paul Revere's Ride for K and M; CG is still working on Betsy Ross. And we made the Declaration of Independence come alive!

Using and activity from Visual Manna's American History Through Art, we made ink from berries, much like people would have done hundreds of years ago. Well, sort of like they did--I did have the luxury of electricity and a stove; but unlike them, I didn't have fields of fresh berries to pick and I only had strawberries to work with. And not just any strawberries, the overly-ripest 4 you have ever seen. The 4 that were hidden inside a cup, in the fridge, suspended between Monday night's leftovers and a new gallon of milk.

Not sure why the girls thought to hide strawberries from their picking day, but I'm glad they did since we had no other berries for this activity.

So I cut up the four I had and prayed for the best:

To these chopped 'berries, I added 1/2cup of water and brought to a boil. The 'berries didn't give a bold color so I added a tea bag (Celestial Seasonings Strawberry, nonetheless) to the water. It simmered until the color was dark enough to use (2-3 minutes?, not long).

I drained the concoction into our inkwell: a lovely ice cream dish. :) And added in 1/4t each of salt and vinegar. I'm not sure why, but the recipe called for it--I suppose it strengthens the color somehow?

Anticipating this project, I already had faux feathers from AC Moore on hand to use as quills. I simply cut the ends at an angle so the quill part would soak up and hold some of the "ink." (By the way, do your kids sit on the table when doing schoolwork?)

Anyway, they experimented with quills by writing as fancy as they could. During colonial times, people coveted beautiful scripted handwriting. They even toted around autograph books to show off their friends' signatures. That's why the Declaration is so flourishing fancy.

Here's M's attempt:

Here M gives up and pretends to write Constitutional-style with her fanciful scribbles!

At least the kids have an appreciation for handwriting practice!


Edwena said...

Looks like fun and the photos on your blog are beautiful.
Edwena from FIAR

Tracie said...

Hey! We did the same thing with blue berries last year!!! We got our "pens" from the same place you did!!!

Mrs. Darling said...

Well now that looks like a lovely thing to try. Great photos.