One of the most whimsical and intriguing items in the world of writing instruments and stationery is invisible ink. To me, it recalls childhood experiments with lemon juice and Encyclopedia Brown books. To others, it may be studied as a practical form of steganography.
To my surprise, I learned that the world’s most distinguised ink maker manufactures a commercial invisible ink, and that I could buy it at a local shop.
The packaging is charming. A bottle with a simple frame pattern label reading:
30ml J. Herbin
It’s light pinkish colour, and fountain pens are not recommended. My bottle shows significant signs of crystallization around the cap and top of the bottle after light use, so that’s probably why.
Although I’d love to buy a fancy dip pen, for now a General’s nib holder and some Speedball nibs suffice. A blank Rhodia pad also seems in order. I start scribbling away.
Is it invisible? Well, it’s less visible. The ink is wet, and there is a slight tint, so the very curious can probably tell that the paper isn’t as prisitine as it once was.
I let the paper dry and take it to my halogen lamp. Holding it near, the writing slowly comes to life in an aquamarine blue. This is thoroughly fascinating to see. What’s almost as intriguing, is that walking away from the lamp, the ink fades back to “invisible”, as if one saw the paper reveal a secret, temporal message.
Is it truly a method for secret record keeping and communication? It probably suffices for some purposes.
Some possible uses for invisible ink:
Sketching tentative ideas