The Costly and Intricate Process Behind Traditional Japanese Calligraphy Ink
- Solid ink sticks, or Sumi, are traditional calligraphy ink from Japan
- They are made from soot, animal glue, and perfume and take several years to produce
- The ingredients and process used in producing them determine their price – a 200 gram high grade stick from Corbin costs over $1,000
- The production process consists of collecting soot from oil lamps (400 lamps lit with vegetable oil) rotated every 20 minutes for 2 hours
- Artisans must consider the type of oil used, containers, and wick material when producing high quality ink sticks
- They mix in animal glue (cattle or other animals depending on grade) and fragrance to create a soft dough which is kneaded by hand into bowls before being pressed into shape and dried over 40 days using oak ash
- Finally artisans polish the sticks before selling them to calligraphers like Shijo Asaki.
Company Strives To Maintain Quality Calligraphy Ink Despite Production Demand
- A company must have consistent production to meet demand
- However, they do not want to sacrifice quality and traditional techniques
- The company strives to keep producing calligraphy ink with the same quality as its founders.