China ink

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A black ink made from Lampblack or Soot mixed with Glue or Size. Used from antiquity, the best quality black soot is obtained by burning vegetable oils such as sesame or tung oil (Roberts and Etherington 1982). The soot is then mixed with glue or size and a small amount of fragrance. This carbon-based ink is very light stable but may be affected by water. In recent years China ink has often been misnamed as India ink, but historical references indicate that India ink was a brownish ink obtained from cuttlefish.

Resources and Citations

  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982