Inks for Japanese and Chinese brush painting (sumi-e in Japanese) and calligraphy are made from soot combined with animal glue. These core ingredients create subtle tones within blacks, ideal for creating poetic lines and washes. Rapeseed oil, when burned, produces a fine carbon soot for a deep, dark black. Pine sap creates a soot that is translucent with less intense black to bluish-gray tones. Synthetic oils usually produce blacks with brown undertones. Traditionally, these mixtures were dried and compressed into solid sticks, which the artist would grind with a little water on an ink stone to make liquid ink. The finest ink sticks are handmade in China, Taiwan, and Japan.
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