The last couple of months over at The Paintbox Letters have been a whirlwind of activity behind the scenes--most of which has been swirling inside my head for years now, and I've finally managed to turn some of those ideas into real, tangible things. If you know me, then you know that I love to make things--all kinds of thing--which is the main reason why I still print and cut all my stickers rather than sending them out to get printed by a machine that prints and cuts en mass. Sometimes, I bite off a bit more than I can chew (like when I'm up until the wee hours of the night printing and cutting stickers!), but even when I'm buried under sheets of vinyl sticker paper...I enjoy the process.
So I don't know exactly when I fell in love with ink (yes, ink!), but when I first started hand lettering and painting a couple years ago, it was all about ink. I've branched out now, and I adore the complexity and the subtleties of watercolor, but ink is where it all started. I know that my mom's traditional Korean ink paintings and calligraphy inspired me a great deal--seeing how beautifully her seemingly simple brush strokes transformed into letters and flowers all just seemed like magic. But it wasn't just the act of painting. I watched her wet and grind her sumi ink sticks to create rich, black ink for her paintings, and it was fascinating because for me, it's not always about what I make. Sometimes, the processes and the rituals that take me there...that's where the beauty lies.
Since watching my mom grind her own ink sticks on stone, I've researched and read about the history of ink-making, the various materials that have been used over the years, the processes of extracting dyes from flowers and fruits and plants, and I've likely learned more about chemistry than I did when I took Chemistry in high school! I've experimented with just about everything in my natural environment (my kitchen and my backyard!) to create and mix batches of ink, some that worked and many that failed. Some colors surprised me, and others looked great but smelled so awful that I had to put them down the drain. Some stained my hands for weeks, and others looked beautiful in the jar, but looked like lightly colored water on paper. But this on-going process of exploring and experimenting and learning--this is what I love the most.
So that is The Paintbox Letters Studio. It's my space--both real and virtual--to create. It's making all-natural, botanical inks. It's exploring the things that grow in my backyard. It's experimenting with leftover cabbage and onion skins and mushy, leftover blueberries. It's teaching my children that our hands are so useful and that creativity is in everything we make. It's learning about the things around us that color our lives. It's the beauty of the rituals of making things.
And all these things...bring me to my very first ink color collection:
Although all the inks were produced recently, The Goddess Collection is the culmination of years worth of a creative journey. But it's also just the beginning...