We gave invisible ink (aka: lemon juice) a shot one afternoon. We got quite a lot of participants all sitting around a table with bowls of lemon juice and q-tips for writing on piles of white paper. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea of “invisible ink” which to a child’s mind seems like some kind of exotic and mysterious craft that could be used for all sorts of nefarious little transactions amongst friends.
The lemon soaked sheets of paper shuffled around the long table so much that it soon became evident why invisible ink can be a bit of a silly idea when the kids realized that a dry piece of paper looks just like the next hundred pieces of dry white paper! A lot of grabbing and yelling “this one is mine!” or “No, wait! This one is mine!” floated around the small room we were working in, deep within the basement of a library (where in my mind secret teachings in enigmatic writing should always reside).
The papers all became so disheveled that each one put under the iron for visualization were a surprise to everyone. No one knew who’s was next! It was really fun to see the excitement and wonder about a project that ultimately is rather anticlimactic when your imagination betrays you when the mystery message you jotted down onto your clean white sheet of printer paper is revealed by the heat of the iron when the lemon juice oxidizes and your message “Hi mommmy” hasn’t been some how transformed into The Da Vinci Code.
I remember doing this project when I was really young, too, and I remember how it felt to see something you’ve created become visible through the wondrous and supernatural powers of a household iron. I was glad to be able to share in and pass on the experience with the kids at the library and only hope that they remember and do the same some day.