All about India ink

To celebrate the release of our new line of table linens whose design was specially created in India ink for Illustre Paris, we wanted to look back at the history and origin of this exceptional ink.

From its creation to its evolution, here is everything you need to know about one of the most popular inks in the world.

What is Indian ink?

India ink is a carbon black pigment called "lampblack", made from soot and obtained by calcining a mixture of oils and other ground ingredients . But its exact recipe remains one of the best kept secrets...

The legend says that this ink would have been born in India, before being taken over by the Chinese people. In English-speaking countries, it is still called "Indian ink". We do not know the exact dates of its appearance, but thanks to some objects found, painted with Chinese ink, it is assumed that it dates from 4000 BC. Originally, it is presented in the form of a stick, and to be transformed into liquid ink, it is enough to rub it against an ink stone, acting as a mortar, then to mix the powder obtained with water. Nowadays, it is more easily found in liquid form, sold in small bottles.

The use of Indian ink on fabric

We must therefore distinguish between traditional Chinese ink, which comes in the form of a solid stick, and its more common liquid form. Both are deep black and lightfast, but the liquid form is known to be indelible once dry.

Indian ink is worked with a brush or a pen and is used in painting, drawing or calligraphy. It can be more or less mixed with water and depending on the dilution, its shade can go from a deep black to a lighter brown, through shades of gray. It is also possible to modify the shades by adding dyes.

It can also be used on fabric and offers a very beautiful rendering. For this, we will prefer natural materials such as cotton or linen.

Linen napkin Illustre Paris

Our linen napkins decorated with Indian ink

The high-end table linen with Indian ink Illustre Paris

Indian ink on fabric is at the heart of our latest collection of high-end table linens. This season we are proud to offer several models of aprons, tea towels, placemats and napkins in linen, whose unique design has been created exclusively in India ink for Illustre Paris. All the steps of their manufacture are carried out in the north of France: weaving, printing, confection & on dyeing. Each piece is immersed in a color bath to give it this particular subtlety and an authentic result. It is a delicate and refined collection because of its exclusive decoration with Indian ink on fabric but it remains nevertheless easy to live with and to maintain since everything is machine washable! The Indian ink is known for its incredible resistance, it is considered for many as a prestigious product and it is not us who will say the opposite.