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All these are produced by 徳记胡开文 Deji Hukaiwen factory. Personally, I’ve never used their ink, but as far as I know their reputation is not very good.
The first one is called “唐墨” (Tang Mo), an oil soot ink (it says 书画油烟墨, “calligraphy and painting oil soot ink”, on the box). Many factories make some version of the “唐墨” mold and it is usually a middle-grade oil soot ink, but the exact recipe varies from one factory to another. 纯松烟 is literally pure pine soot.
For historical reasons, there are many factories with Hukaiwen in their name. Talking about new ink, 屯溪胡开文 Tunxi Hukaiwen (registered trademark 胡开文 Hukaiwen) and 绩溪胡开文 Jixi Hukaiwen (registered trademark 苍佩室 Cang Pei Shi) are generally considered good, 歙县老胡开文 She County Old Hukaiwen (registered trademark 李廷珪 Li Tinggui) is supplied at Inkston. Tunxi and She County Old Hukaiwen were two of the state-owned ink factories in the last century.
- This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by multapaakku.
^ These are some excellent points. Even contact with the ink stick slowly abrades the stone, which is why you see old inkstones with a depression in the middle. A good inkstone will keep its edge for a long time, and you should really not clean it with an abrasive unless it’s in dire need of being resurfaced (such as damaged, waxed or – rarely – worn smooth).
Soaking indeed can help the old ink come off, and at any rate will not do any harm. I use a piece of loofah sponge for daily cleaning. It’s coarse enough to scrub off leftover ink, yet does not hurt the stone.
I also have the mud block from Inkston. The quality is all right, I haven’t met with any nasty surprises (coarse sand). I find that it can be used to “reopen” the surface of the stone when it has lost its cutting ability, but normally you don’t want to do this all the time. By the way, I don’t exactly see why you could not use it on a round stone – you can always make a paste of the mud with water and polish with it.
If the stone is scratched or otherwise damaged, you can polish the surface using sandpaper, gauge depending on type of stone and desired result. The problem with sandpaper is that it wears the soft and hard parts of the stone equally, leaving a smooth surface with no cutting ability whatsoever. Grinding again with the mud block can help. However scary it sounds, you can even try an abrasive kitchen cleaner that contains milled calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is 3 on the Mohs scale, which will leave intact the hard components of the inkstone. The kind used in kitchen products can be a little coarse, though.
Some new inkstones, usually low or mid-range ones, are sold waxed or just plain unfinished, in which case they too will benefit from sandpaper treatment.
Yes, they can. This will not harm the brush, as long as the hair is in order and not pointing in all directions or stuck between the strips.
Folklore has it that seal paste does not like metal; I ignore the scientific reason behind this, if there’s one. Bone, ceramic, or wooden tools can be used all right.
Your friend’s seal paste indeed looks quite dry. It’s hard to say from the photo if it is still usable, but she can try it. To take better care of seal paste in the future, note that it’s not just a stamp pad. To begin with, it should be stirred every few months. The method of stirring is to roll the paste into a ball. When applying it on the seal, tap the seal gently on the surface of the ball. I looked up a couple of videos for you (not mine):
Applying on a seal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yA_wNKHG5w
You can find more by searching for “攪拌印泥”. To store seal paste, I suggest wrapping the entire porcelain box in cling film.
^ I think the closest equivalent to petit gris (squirrel) is fine wool. Badger is harder and more coarse.
I’d say any hair is probably going to work, and the choice ultimately depends on your technique and personal preference.
Personally, I’ve used both Western and Chinese brushes to paint Western watercolor. The Western brushes I use the most are squirrel and sable hair, plus the occasional ox hair brush for lifting. Of the Chinese brush hair types, goat hair compares to squirrel, being soft and absorbent. The biggest difference is that Chinese brushes have a more or less sharp tip, while the Western soft brush is usually a blunt mop/wash type. The Chinese “wolf” hair brush roughly corresponds to the Western sable brush, at least if we’re comparing good ones. A pure wolf brush is not really stiff or hard, just a bit elastic. Again, the tip of a Chinese brush is sharp, while Western sable brushes come in many shapes. I haven’t really used the very stiff and coarse hairs, but they might work for dry brush techniques. Ask yourself what you would like to paint.
Thank you for asking them! I was probably right in assuming that it’s a “better student inkstone.” I sometimes see Yushan sold in the name of She stone with a ripple pattern. Apparently not all Yushan stone is bad, but the market is a little confusing.27th October 2018 at 9:31 pm in reply to: Handmade natural mineral color ink sticks, set of 12 colours, handmade by the Ol #19461
Agree with Yan that appropriate natural stone makes the best ink!
I wonder what kind of natural stone you would recommend to grind color ink. I’m aware that there exists a white Duan inkstone that was especially popular for cinnabar ink in the past, but the material is in short supply and the stones rare and expensive. Are there any popular and affordable options?18th October 2018 at 12:53 pm in reply to: Handmade natural mineral color ink sticks, set of 12 colours, handmade by the Ol #19413
Actually, there exist white pottery “inkstones” or dishes made for this specific purpose. Look for “彩墨砚” or “白陶砚” (白陶硯 in Japanese stores). The surface is unglazed and can be used for grinding. The colors are clearly discernible on a white background. Furthermore, you avoid staining your primary inkstone. It might be a good idea to get at least two, one for dark colors and another for light ones.
The “value” of a brush depends on age, condition, material, quality, and brand. It is difficult to assess all these based on this photo alone, but at least the materials look good to my eye. Their practical value is probably more important than commercial/collection value anyway, if that’s what you mean. You probably know for yourself whether they are good to use or not.
Old brushes, especially unused ones by famous brands, can be very expensive and have collection value. Some insist that “vintage” brushes made some decades ago are generally better to use than modern ones, because good animal hair was easier to find.
Thank you for the great clarification, Yan!
Exactly, but I’m still somewhat confused. Are these “50g” and “100g” versions the same as 一两， 二两？ How does Old Hukaiwen indicate the weight of its products?