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Will Dikel

chinese ink stone material?

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]I would like to carve an inkstone as a gift to a friend who is studying Chinese calligraphy. Websites describe several types of stones, e.g., slate, jade, etc., but the descriptions are more poetic than descriptive regarding the best stones to use (" it is hard and durable, feels the dampness of the deep mountain and smooth like a baby's skin. Easy to make the ink with a touch of water, the color of the ink is clean and transparent. Knocking with a finger, the sound is crisp and clear").

 

Some sites recommend old mine stones ("which means the stone was exploited hundreds or thousands years ago and being buried and oxidized underground. The two major difference of old and new are: new stones have a lot of fine pores that absorbs ink. New stones will not have crisp metal sound when knocked on the finger tip. A good piece of old stone has very crisp metal sound even as one touches their hand through the stone."

 

I also learned about Jianchen, "the richest and most famous She inkstone carving artist. He is called the soul of inkstone carving. For the last twenty years, he exhibited all over Asia including Taiwan, Hongkong, Singapore, Japan, ...... He sold one of his inkstone carving to the Japanese museum for 70, 000 USA dollars."

 

Does anyone know what stone would be best to use, and whether it is available in the U.S.? I thought about using pipestone from Minnesota, but really don't know whether that would work. I understand that the basic qualities are hardness, fineness, slipperiness, absorbability, and several ineffable qualities which apparently cannot be defined.

 

Check out www.acornplanet.com for examples of inkstones.

 

Any ideas?

post-466-1199549337.jpg

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One could use stain-saturated porcelain clay, which fires to nearly 100% vitreous quality. Carving the damp or dry clay would be a much easier proposition. Sanding the fired clay would bring a lustrous and tactile feel to the surface, and it would be nearly glass like.

 

Otherwise, some folks with geological knowledge could suggest the sort of stone that might have been used for the ink stones.

 

Janel

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Will,

 

I don't know what your stone experience is,so i may not be very helpful. The stone mentioned on the website appear to be slate. American slate can be found thoughout the coal mining states and through various websites. Another possibility would be to use soapstone,it is easily carved and when polished has a very slick surface.

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Will,

 

I'd suggest getting hold of an ink stick and trying out various samples of local slate. Ink is produced by rubbing the stick on the surface of the stone with a small amount of water. If the surface is too smooth it will be very difficult, or even impossible, to produce any usable ink. On the other hand, it the surface is too rough, or crumbles, the ink will be spoiled by grit from the stone or coarse particles from the ink stick.

 

When making ink you should feel the stone working away at the ink stick, this is a very subtle effect in terms of actual grinding but you should be able to get a reasonable idea of what you are looking for in a suitable stone if you get a chance to try out a few different Chinese or Japanese stones.

 

Good luck

Ford

 

here's a link to article on ink stones which might add some more pointers in the right direction.

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:D I guess that my suggestion to use porcelain clay falls into the imitation ink stone group. Sorry. After reading about the qualities of a good ink stone, nearly 100% virtuosity would not allow for any porosity, which the good stones require. Never mind :blush: . It just looks like it could have been.....

 

Janel

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Thanks everyone for helping me get a grasp on this topic. It looks like the ideal stone is a very old slate from China. I wonder if we have something like that in the U.S.; and if so, how to find it and evaluate it for ink stones. Ford's article reference was fascinating, and the price range of stones ($3.00 to $80,000.00) is pretty amazing.

 

Have any of you carved slate? It looks like it has a long history of use in relief carvings, gravestones, etc. Anyone know where to get high quality slate like the kind in China?

post-466-1199585689.jpg

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Hi Will,

 

It's not really carving but I made myself a little ink stone using slate. It was a leftover piece I found in Belgium near a house covered with slate.

It had a few tiny metal enclosures I drilled out to just below the surface, that's what the little spots are. Measuring 5 x 23 cm (2 x almost 10 inches?) it's just big enough for the few drops of ink I mostly use.

The dimple is very shallow, the bamboo on the right is my pen and brush rest, in between is place for the ink stick. It's not much but it works and I like it.

 

post-1629-1199637661.jpg

 

 

Slate is easy to carve (but don't use your biggest tools). Sanding is a joy and makes a good mash. My piece is made of rather loose layers, I wouldn't recommend such a piece for carvings.

Wish you luck finding the right stone.

 

Leon

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Leon,

 

I really like your ink stone cum brush rest. Cool idea and nicely done. Any chance of seeing some of your shodo?

 

namaste, Ford

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Sorry Ford, no shodo by me. My muscular system is not the right one for it! (Can hardly read my own handwriting)

Thanks for the compliment (it means a lot coming from you! :blink: ).

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Leon,

 

Pity, "Can hardly read my own handwriting", perhaps you should have become a doctor then :blink:

 

and your welcome for the compliment. As you know, I say it as I see it.

 

Namaste, Ford

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the ink stone I have, Id guess to be a Jasper of some sort, researching it a bit, its an impure variety of silica, takes an exceptional polish generally has interesting color variations and has been historically used in gemstone carving and seals

 

has a hardness equal to quartz, its similar to Chert

its also common and relatively affordable

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the ink stone I have, Id guess to be a Jasper of some sort, researching it a bit, its an impure variety of silica, takes an exceptional polish generally has interesting color variations and has been historically used in gemstone carving and seals

 

has a hardness equal to quartz, its similar to Chert

its also common and relatively affordable

 

Hi Chuck,

Jasper is a high silica mineral with properties like glass. It is not the same as slate. Slate can be primarily silica, but it is put together differently than Jasper, Quartz, Chalcedony, agate, Flint and so on. These minerals lack the chalky abrasiveness of Slate. It is this fine chalkiness that grinds the ink so finely. Slate can be made of a large variety of minerals including Silica. Any mineral that nature could turn into sediment had the potential to become slate if the right geological processes happened. The stones unique and excellent ink stone properties come from the way the crystalline particles are randomly aligned and pressed together until they bonded in the earths crust. This forms a hard stone with a particular abrasive quality that can't be found in Jasper. Look for a very dense fine grained Slate. I am not saying you could not make an ink stone from Jasper, but I don't think if would work very well as it lacks the aforementioned qualities.

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that grinds the ink so finely

 

ahh :D

slight misunderstanding I was thinking an "ink stone" was a chop

figured a I was viewing the carved sides of the first two photos didnt fully process the exception the third photo obviously represents, how I missed ford hallams post which is just as obvious I'll put down to a long day swinging a hammer :(

 

sorry

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Thanks everyone for helping me get a grasp on this topic. It looks like the ideal stone is a very old slate from China. I wonder if we have something like that in the U.S.; and if so, how to find it and evaluate it for ink stones. Ford's article reference was fascinating, and the price range of stones ($3.00 to $80,000.00) is pretty amazing.

 

Have any of you carved slate? It looks like it has a long history of use in relief carvings, gravestones, etc. Anyone know where to get high quality slate like the kind in China?

 

How about old roofing slates?

 

LJ

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I am a stone carver as well as wood and metal. My studies have included chinese carving techniques. The Mat'l most commonly used is Basinite. A basic volcanic rock found in California, Chico area, British Columbia and Arizona, called Arizona Black Jade. It is fined grained Hardness a

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I am a stone carver as well as wood and metal. My studies have included chinese carving techniques. The Mat'l most commonly used is Basinite. A basic volcanic rock found in California, Chico area, British Columbia and Arizona, called Arizona Black Jade. It is fined grained Hardness a

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The Chinese use Basinite, A fine grained Volcanic rock found in California, Chico area, British Columbia and Arizona, Black Jade. It has a hardness on the Moh's scale of 6. Holds fine detal well. Is best carved with diamond tools.

Check your local Rock hound club for availability in your area.

 

Good luck

 

Let me know how it works for you.

 

Wcraig

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I would recommend "pipestone (catlinite)" its like hard red soapstone. Possibly quite cheap.

I have some and think it would be great because it is not to fragile. Indians in the USA aperently carved elaborate pipes from it.

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I would recommend "pipestone (catlinite)" its like hard red soapstone. Possibly quite cheap.

I have some and think it would be great because it is not to fragile. Indians in the USA aperently carved elaborate pipes from it.

 

 

Interested is trading some to another carver? I've got quite a selection of stuff I'd be willing to trade for a little piece to try carving on.

LJ

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