One of our clients is a long-term inksticks collector and he has recently made a comparison between Cao Su Gong and Old Hu Kai Wen. It is very informative!
Dear Yan: At last here is a comparison between Cao Su Kung and Old Hu Kai Wen sets of color ink sticks. A direct comparison is not possible as the two sets have inks of different colors or different shades of the same color. They both are made with an insoluble base glue which means there should be no trouble in the usual wet mounting process. ( One abnormality, the Cao black color is made with a soluble base which could bleed with over painting or wet mounting.) When tested on various papers the Hu colors proved to be made with a finer ground pigment than Cao’s. The finer the pigment the smoother the colors are when diluted and this was shown best on harder papers that were not very adsorbent. IN GENERAL, BOTH SETS ARE VERY GOOD BUT HU’S WOULD BE BETTER FOR MOST ORIENTAL PAINTING WHICH RELIES ON DILUTE WASHES OF COLOR. When ground, they produce deep, dense, vivid inks that are great for floral. I recommend this for any oriental artist who likes to work with color. I liked Hu’s better as it contained two brown colors and not as many blue colors as Cao’s. I do like the vibrancy of the colors and the effects that I get on different papers that is very reminiscent of Chinese paintings that I have seen in the past. These ink sticks are just what I was looking for. The colors are bright and come in a very useful assortment. When dry on paper, the colors are clear and water resistant. I would like to Thank You again for your help in getting these colors for me. I will enjoy using both Old Hu’s and Cao’s inks for some time. Best regards,