How to Grind Ink Effectively for Practicing Chinese Calligraphy (part 1)

top chinese calligraphy Grinding an ink stick on the inkstone is an indispensable process to be good at Chinese calligraphy and painting. The famous Chinese calligrapher, painter, and connoisseur, Wu Fu-Fan ( 吴湖帆 ) always ground ink himself when doing masterpieces of calligraphy and painting. He would not let others to grind ink for him ( ). Many master Chinese calligraphers and painters declare that grinding ink on the inkstone is a good opportunity to learn the spirits of the brush strokes by controlling the densities of their ground ink which, in turn, will affect many technical and aesthetical issues and details of Chinese calligraphy and painting. One of the best way to enjoy practicing those arts is learn to how to grind ink on the inkstone first without wasting time and material since ink is considered the blood and spirit of the brush strokes.

Those who have not known to grind ink and practiced properly and effectively sometimes say “人磨墨, 墨磨人 (A man grinds ink stick, but the ink grinds “tortures 折磨” the man.)”

If we know many of the proper ways and tips to grind ink, we find practicing Chinese calligraphy and painting a lot of easier and enjoyable and faster progress may be obtained.

More hints:

磨墨機 / 磨墨机 (automatic grinding ink machine) may be found by Googling.

Duration : 0:5:40

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25 Responses to “How to Grind Ink Effectively for Practicing Chinese Calligraphy (part 1)”

  1. artvirtue says:

    Thank you. The …
    Thank you. The ground ink is the soul of brush work.

  2. Qiumeihua says:

    the techniques used …
    the techniques used with this video are very concise and great. also I was amazed by the automatic ink grinder machine.

  3. artvirtue says:

    Robert of e-Bay …
    Robert of e-Bay forbiddencity2008 adopts a “cost leadership” strategy. He made purchases in warehouse quantities from the manufactures for future retail or wholesale. Indeed I found something he sells cheaper than in China. But you have to look for different resources before making a decision or conclusion. Robert’s new cargo of Duan inkstones will arrive in about two weeks. Most of them are in the US$40 to $200 range.

  4. jishuenkam says:

    you mean robert …
    you mean robert actually sells the stuff cheaper than taobao? i look up for some She Inkstones at taobao and really want to have one cheap and decent inkstone and one other higher quality inkstone which cost like at least 240RMB to more than 1000RMB. I am definitely looking for them, if you have the price quote (Robert’s one) i definitely appreciate it ;)

  5. artvirtue says:

    I am not sure if …
    I am not sure if Robert still sells that 曹素功 敏楠氏 at that price.
    I noticed that taobao has higher prices than those stores in Dallas, but lower prices than most online stores outside China.

  6. jishuenkam says:

    do the inksticks …
    do the inksticks still cost $20? if they are still sold at this level that would be a really good deal. they are really good inksticks. i look them up at taobao and they cost close to 100RMB.

  7. artvirtue says:

    Thank you for …
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  8. sotto2 says:

    I do not find it …
    I do not find it necessary to press hard at all when grinding ink. It’s easier on the stone with less likelihood of scratching it if there’s grit in the inkstick, and it’s easier on the arm. I barely apply any pressure at all to the inkstick on the stone and I find I get nice fine thick ink in less than a few minutes.

  9. artvirtue says:

    Sorry I am not an …
    Sorry I am not an expert of Japanese.

  10. richard2mitchell says:

    how can i learn jap …
    how can i learn jap?

  11. southernswiss says:

    Beautiful music!
    Beautiful music!

  12. artvirtue says:

    Thank you. I would …
    Thank you. I would not say those are my tips – when anyone has practiced for a while, things will be clearer and clearer and tips, understandings, and better methods will come to us eventually.

  13. tsubamenogaeshi says:

    Thank you very much …
    Thank you very much for your answer, your information is very helpful. I am waiting for other tips ;-)

  14. artvirtue says:

    I would use …
    I would use seperate sets of inkstones and brushes for red and black ink. Unless you wash them very thoroughly, the black ink will go with the red one.

    The videos with red ink in this channel are taped strictly with another sets of brush and inkstone that have not been dipped with black ink. We may see the red color is pure and clean.

  15. artvirtue says:

    Thank you for your …
    Thank you for your kind words.

    When I write large characters, sometimes I add a little bit liquid ink (I make sure the quality is reliable). Then I still grind with an ink stick for a moment since the liquid ink will not be controllable with absorbent paper if grinding is skipped. You may test this easily.

  16. tsubamenogaeshi says:

    I always enjoy …
    I always enjoy watching your vids. I have few questions related to inksticks/ink:

    1. when you use very large brush to write very large characters, let’s say you use 4cm diameter brush, do you still grind inkstick to make ink or just use liquid ink?

    2. when you use red ink (usually for teacher of japanese calligraphy), do you use separate inkstone and ink brush for red ink or do you just use your regular inkstone and brush that usually used for black ink?

    Thanks before.

  17. artvirtue says:

    I used bamboo …
    I used bamboo handle for short ink sticks when I was a beginners… Thanks for sharing.

  18. tutusgram says:

    This is wonderful …
    This is wonderful information. I have a number of broken ink sticks but they still seem to be usable. For small pieces I use a bamboo ‘handle’ so that I can use the stick almost to the very end. Thank you, Ann

  19. artvirtue says:

    I have not seen a …
    I have not seen a grinding machine myself. It would not be difficult to use a dough mixer to attach to the ink sticks… I believe the automatic grinding machines will soon available in the West or on e-Bay.

    Yes, we are supposed to visualize or meditate before writing, usually done while grinding on the inkstone. Visualization can also be done any time before writing.

  20. shybuttcute says:

    Thank you very much …
    Thank you very much for these useful tips. It´s been fun watching the automatic grinding machine, I can hardly believe it! Aren´t we supposed to be thinking, or meditating or finding the right state of mind while grinding ink? Is there another machine for that? ;)

  21. artvirtue says:

    Welcome. They are …
    Welcome. They are many tips later. Sometimes techniqes can benefit from tips besides practicing.

  22. artvirtue says:

    I dropped an …
    I dropped an inkstone and I glued it back.

  23. artvirtue says:

    If the surface of …
    If the surface of an inkstone is scratched a little, that’s normal. If the scratches are too many, they might affect the quality of grinded ink. The inkstone can be smoothed with extra fine sand paper or machine.

  24. chinotan0628 says:

    is it okay if i …
    is it okay if i accidentally scratched the surface? of the ink stone?

  25. Sanpitsu says:

    Sorry, I should I …
    Sorry, I should I have said “tape the ink sticks…”, not inks stones!

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