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Subject: Source for sepia ink

Source for sepia ink

From: Piers Townshend <piers.townshend>
Date: Friday, July 14, 2000
Tara Kennedy <tara.kennedy [at] arch2__nara__gov> writes

>I am trying to find a source that sells true sepia ink, as in the
>ink manufactured from the ink sacs of a cuttlefish, rather than
>modern inks simply named "sepia" due to their brown color.

Intrigued by the question I looked in at the delicatessen at
lunchtime. This is in Pimlico, near Tate Britain.  In the fridge was
a small 4gm packet of Tinta Para Calamar by Nortindal, for risotto
and that.  Rather pricey at UKP1 but you are paying for convenience.
In the small print on the back it says eat before 24 months of the
fabrication date (stamped on the packet). In the streetmarket
outside the deli we have a fishstall on Thursdays an Fridays.  Often
they stock squid, though not today.  Either way, fresh or packeted,
the raw ink just needs the addition of some gum arabic to be useful
as an ink/watercolour.  A little humectant such as honey would help
it to rewet if you decided to evaporate the mixture and keep it in a
pan for next time.

Look at The Craft of Old-Master Drawings by James Watrous.
University of Wisconsin Press pub. 1957.  ISBN 0-299-01425-8
reprinted 1975.  Under the reference for Sepia, p.88, he observes
that genuine sepia may be had from Italy in the form of hard dark
chips.  These are smelly and hard to grind small enough to form an
ink, they do not dissolve readily in water.  He recommends mixing
the sepia powder with gum arabic water to make little cakes, letting
them dry, and rubbing them up with water when you need an ink or

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:5
                   Distributed: Monday, July 17, 2000
                        Message Id: cdl-14-5-009
Received on Friday, 14 July, 2000

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