Author Topic: How to thicken sumi ink?  (Read 2191 times)

Offline Jenafer

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How to thicken sumi ink?
« on: December 13, 2017, 04:01:52 PM »
Hi All! I am a newbie calligrapher and I started with Yasutomo KY Series Sumi Ink. Which at the time seemed great especially paired with my Nikko G nib. When I started my wedding invitations I switched to the Dr. Martin's, Copperplate Gold and the Brause EF66 Nib. When I use the black sumi ink now i just don't like how thin it is. Or how it works with the Brause nib. It pools and I have to dip very often.

How can I thicken the sumi ink that I have, gum arabic?

What black inks do you recommend for me to buy in the future.

Thank you!

Offline Katie.R

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Re: How to thicken sumi ink?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2017, 07:23:09 PM »
I am interested in the answer as well. I haven't found the sumi ink that I have to be too thin, but the fountain pen inks that I use are much too thin and I experience the same problems you do. My first instinct would be to possibly add some gum arabic to thicken it up a bit.

Offline Starlee

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Re: How to thicken sumi ink?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2017, 08:31:42 PM »
Hi Jenafer, I don't know too much about playing with ink consistencies. There are others on here that I hope will see your post and give some tips, but one thought that came to mind in the meantime was to let it evaporate overnight...or test each day until you are happy. You could try gum arabic on a small batch of the ink as well. Going forward, my favourite black ink for everyday practice is Moonpalace sumi. Ziller's black, matte or gloss, are great for special projects.
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Offline Bianca M

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Re: How to thicken sumi ink?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2017, 02:36:59 PM »
I second Moon Palace, which I dilute about 60:40 ink to water.  I haven't used the KY series from Yasutomo, but I dilute their green bottle. 

The tricky thing is that just because an ink pools, doesn't mean it's too thin (it may be the nib or the paper).  Is it still working fine with your Nikkos? 

Offline MrsS

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Re: How to thicken sumi ink?
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2018, 12:39:52 AM »
I leave the lid off my sumi and it thickens it, Zillers has an ink thickener but not sure if it only works on their inks (acrylic based I believe?)

Offline Jenafer

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Re: How to thicken sumi ink?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2018, 01:49:11 PM »
Thank you all for your recommendations! I thickened it with gum arabic and it worked a bit but I still wasn't happy. I opened a new bottle and it seems to be working a bit better. I am learning Copperplate from Dr. Joseph M. Vitolo and his thick and thins are just beautiful. I switch to the Leonardt Principal that he recommends that helped as well but I can't get my thins thin enough. I don't know if it is the ink or just time and practice. Probably both :) I'm going to try Higgins Eternal ink.

I'm going to try leaving the lid off tonight and see how that goes.

Offline jeanwilson

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Re: How to thicken sumi ink?
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2018, 05:33:26 PM »
I'd recommend McCaffrey's ink over Higgins...although some people like Higgins.


Offline Starlee

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Re: How to thicken sumi ink?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2018, 06:51:47 PM »
I've recently been adventurous and started playing around with a couple of different sumi inks. One is supposed to have silver tones and the other, gold. All I see is black unless I spread the ink fine with a brush...which I think is how the ink shines best anyway. I still love sumi, but I have learned from the experience and it is related to your woes over thick thins. All three sumi inks give thick thins, even with a light touch. Moon Palace gives me the thinnest lines of the three I tried. So I searched, and learned some more. Sumi is made from soot, and soot particles can be quite large, which would impede our ability to achieve the fine thins we seek. I still love Moon Palace, but I now accept that its thins are limited. I second @jeanwilson recommendation of McCaffrey's. It gives amazing thins!

But yes.....practice is also a big factor. The more you know the forms, the less you tend to clench your hand and weigh down your arm. Remember to breathe deeply regularly as you practice to stay relaxed. Lifting the hand also helps to 'reset' the mind, enabling it to focus better on the next stroke sequence
« Last Edit: March 07, 2018, 06:56:20 PM by Starlee »
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Offline Jenafer

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Re: How to thicken sumi ink?
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2018, 07:35:29 PM »
I'd recommend McCaffrey's ink over Higgins...although some people like Higgins.

Thanks Jean I'll have to pick that up in my next order!

I've recently been adventurous and started playing around with a couple of different sumi inks. One is supposed to have silver tones and the other, gold. All I see is black unless I spread the ink fine with a brush...which I think is how the ink shines best anyway. I still love sumi, but I have learned from the experience and it is related to your woes over thick thins. All three sumi inks give thick thins, even with a light touch. Moon Palace gives me the thinnest lines of the three I tried. So I searched, and learned some more. Sumi is made from soot, and soot particles can be quite large, which would impede our ability to achieve the fine thins we seek. I still love Moon Palace, but I now accept that its thins are limited. I second @jeanwilson recommendation of McCaffrey's. It gives amazing thins!

But yes.....practice is also a big factor. The more you know the forms, the less you tend to clench your hand and weigh down your arm. Remember to breathe deeply regularly as you practice to stay relaxed. Lifting the hand also helps to 'reset' the mind, enabling it to focus better on the next stroke sequence

Thank you for all the tips! :) I can already see a huge difference in just a week of being more comfortable with Copperplate now and my hairlines are getting thinner. I just received my Higgins ink and walnut ink today. The Higgins is definitely better than the sumi. The walnut produces incredible hairlines but you sacrifice the nice deep black ink. I think there is a time and place for both but I am definitely loving the Higgins so far compared to sumi. I'll pick up some McCaffrey's in my next order though.

Thank you for your information about the way sumi is made that is very interesting.