13 June 2010

The Smell of Sumi Ink


This weekend I finished the wedding woodblock prints for my nephew's wedding. I bought some square glassine envelopes at PaperPresentation.com and I love the way the little prints look in the envelopes. There will be one at each place setting.

I printed these with sumi ink and by the time I finished all 125 prints the odor of the ink had permeated my studio. Sumi has a very distinctive smell, a little like moth balls and a little like patchouli. The students at the last class I taught asked me about the odor, so I finally looked it up. It seems that in addition to soot and animal glue, camphor and/or musk oil are also often added to liquid sumi ink. One web site I consulted suggested that this is done to aid in achieving the meditative state required for good calligraphy or sumi-e painting.

Next on my studio task list: re-do the John Alexander & Thomas Roberts print.


mizu designs said...

I just love the smell of sumi. I don't know what it is, perhaps it reminds me of Japan???

Love your wedding prints!

Phare-Camp said...

I also like the slightly earthy smell of sumi but if that earthy smell is closer to mildewy then it may have come from a bad batch. I've been warned to not buy a sumi stick (used for sumi-e [japanese brush painting])if it has a faint moldy smell while dry; it will be worse when wet.

Hannah said...

Thank you so much to the paper presentation page. I have been trying to find decent blank cards and envelopes for a while! Also your woodblocks are great :D