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Using soft brushes with artisan Black Walnut ink

Using soft brushes with artisan Black Walnut ink

This demonstration begins with watery transparent under layers of black walnut ink. It shows the transparent, luminous, and viscous qualities that make this ink legend.

Next, I begin to add layers and puddle ink to build rich dark browns.

The brushes I use are extremely soft, reminding me of little mops. They are made of squirrel hair and shaped with points at the end called dagger and cat’s tongue. They leave very soft markings, that I later detail and shape with hard edges using dip pens. This interface of soft and hard opens possibility for texture building and highlights lifted with a damp brush.

These brushes are very hard to find. I located a few, one real squirrel hair and the other a synthetic. They are in the Resource post that accompanies this video, and should get you started in your search for these wonderful tools.

The background music is an old Swedish folk song Vem Kan Selga forutan vind. This is from a audiotape of my son’s concert as a member of the Jubulate Deo Children’s Choir of the North Shore. It was recorded in 1988 and distributed to parents after a concert. They begin with Swedish and move to English. Here are the words in English translation.

Who can sail without the wind?
Who can row without oars?
Who can say farewell to friends
And leave without shedding tears?

I can sail without the wind,
I can row without oars,
But I can’t say farewell to friends
And leave without shedding tears

When I went with him to rehearsals, it was one of my very favorite pieces.