A Prized Possesion

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A Prized Possesion First comes a brocade covered box lined with silk, held closed by two clasps. Inside is an inset hardwood box with words on the cover in ancient seal script that say, “Duan prefecture stone inkslab.” Within this is the dark grey hand-carved shale inkstone. One of my prized possessions, it was given […]

Mustard Seeds

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Mustard Seeds The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting is probably the best known book about Chinese painting. Originally published in 1679, Mai-mai Sze translated it into English in 1956. Chinese artists for over three-hundred years have looked to it as a basic training manual for painting. It contains illustrated sections on how to paint […]

Acrylic Paint Containers

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Acrylic Paint Containers Somewhere I saw someone using these small, clear acrylic boxes to hold their watercolors so I picked some up from my local container store. They work great for Chinese style painting. You can squeeze paint from a tube or drop in several paint chips (I’ll discuss these some other time), add as […]

Porcelain Paint Pots

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Porcelain Paint Pots For Chinese-style painting, porcelain is the best material for mixing and storing your paints. It’s white, so you get an accurate preview of your color or shade of grey, and it’s non-porous, so it won’t stain and is easy to clean. I’ve tried many different shapes and sizes. Most I’ve picked up […]

Hardwood Paperweights

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Chinese Paperweights Chinese paper for calligraphy and painting is very thin and the slightest breeze can send it flying. That’s why you need some kind of paperweights. Just about anything will do, from a few pebbles to these fancy hardwood weights I bought in Hangzhou, PRC. You can find something similar at most Chinese art […]

Black Walnut Skull

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Black Walnut Skull I carved this oversize skull from a block of black walnut that was given to me by a friend who had cut down a tree. You might be able to make out near the top a dark stripe with a light point at the top. This is dark stained wood around an […]

Chinese Calligraphy Grid


Chinese Calligraphy Grid Most Chinese art supply stores sell these pieces of felt with grids printed on them. They’re meant to help when you’re learning calligraphy and come in several styles with different patterns. If you put your thin Chinese calligraphy paper on top of this felt you can see the lines show through from […]

Tagua Nut Skull

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Tagua Nut Skull A miniature carved by Lu Kesi from a tagua nut. A subject considered inauspicious by the Chinese though common in Japan, and an appropriate size for a Japanese-style netsuke.

Inkstick Holder


Chinese Inkstick Holder This little tool can be a big help if you grind your own ink (which you should). As you grind your inkstick against the inkstone it gets shorter and shorter until too small to hold easily. That’s where this bit of bamboo comes in handy, providing a handle so you don’t waste […]