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.