Horisumi & Tradition
As of 2015 I only use hand ground, high grade sumi ink from Nara, Japan for all the black and shading in my traditional Japanese tattoos . This year has been the time to honor the name I was given.. Hori-sumi. Its a lot more work but the look and feel of the tattoo is now second to none and the experience and reverence during the process makes it all the more authentic.
Sumi (墨) is Japanese for black ink. Although there are many different kinds of sumi, only a few are suitable for tattooing. The sumi made Nara City, Japan by the old ways is considered the highest quality and commands a high price. Cherry Blossom, Plum Blossom and 5 Star are the makes of Nara sumi that are most commonly used for tebori/wabori tattooing. Nara sumi is made by collecting the soot from burning pure vegetable oil—usually sesame or pauwlonia—and combining this with a glue derived from vegetable starch. This is shaped into sticks and dried. When needed, the tattoo artist grinds the stick in a slate inkwell called a suzuri until the correct consistency is achieved.
I still makes many of my own tattoo needles the old world way, by hand, using loose needles and soldering them into the configurations that I need to suit my immediate use, it is a lost art that I maintain a daily hold on to, and I aim to pass it on and teach the needle making craft to my Deshi.
Mixing my own ink from colour pigments is one of the most difficult, messy and time consuming aspects of keeping the old world tradition alive yet I know it is not only a vital link to the past and real tattooing but also produces the absolute best results with my tattooing. Vibrant colours, long lasting brightness and complete control over tone, hue and saturation make this one facet of tradition I will never turn my back on!
I create all my tattooing colours using safe non-toxic pigments that have been used safely for decades and mixing them with inert ingredients to make the smoothest and most usable ink I possibly can. Accept no substitutes.