Q. 4124. The Manufacture of India Ink.

Manufacturer and Builder 9, 1888

—Call you inform me through your Notes and Queries if I am right in ssupposing that the so-called "India Ink" is made from the dried ink sack of the cuttle fish? This its what I have been taught to believe, and have always supposed to be correct, until lately when I have been told that it was made from lampblack.
- Draughtsman, New York.

There is no doubt that the ink sack of the cuttle fish was at one time largely used by the Chinese for the production of the ink called incorrectly "India Ink," so highly prized by draughtsmen. At present, however, it is probable that most of the material known by that name is made from lampblack and zinc, by some special process. the details of which are not certainly known. An item which lately appeared in one of the daily papers, gives what purports to be a history of the process of its manufacture, from which we abstract what seems to be the essential portion. It reads like a very excellent recipe, and even though it may not be just what it purports to be it will doubtless afford a very good substitute for the genuine article: "The process now employed by the Chinamen in the manufacture of their India ink is not radically different from that in use in ancient days. The old principle that burning resinous material will throw off thick smoke in large quantities is employed, only the smoke thus obtained is a little more scientifically handled. In the middle of a big porcelain dish, about two feet in diameter and three or four Inches deep, they place a stand of about six inches diameter and the same bight as the dish. Several small lamps rest upon the stand, and by means of arms fastened to the sides of the dish, small conical dishes are held just over the lamps. The dish is filled with water, almost up to the tops of the lamps' wicks and the lamps are lighted. The smoke condenses on the conical dishes hung over the lamps and is collected in the form of a dense, black powder. This powder is placed in a vase and a warmed mixture of nine parts of fish glue and one of animal glue strained into it through a piece of silk held over the mouth of the vase. The contents of the vase, then being thoroughly stirred, is rolled into balls, wrapped in cloth and immersed in hot water.

"Kneading, another immersion and beating with a hammer follow. the paste is scented and in the form of long sticks is placed in various shaped molds. Wrapped in paper the sticks aro placed in a dish filled with rice-straw ashes and in a day or two are thoroughly dried. Rubbing with cloths and brushes serves to clean and polish them and they are then ready for the market. The soft paste can of course be molded in any shape, but ass a rule is made into short, slender sticks which are generally ornamented with Chinese inscriptions or designs. The peculiar qualities of the ink render it indispensable to sketch-artists and draughtsmen and nothing has been found to take its place." "Ure's Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, etc.," gives several recipes for preparing Chinese ink, which confirm the above in the general feature that they invoke the use of lampblack. The size indicated is glue, British gum (dextrine), and other materials.

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