Master builders, masons and carpenters have been using string lines as far back as the ancient Egyptians who used red and yellow ochres and black inks for their lines. Many traces of these can still be seen on burial chamber walls to divide various panel stories and keep figures aligned.
Today we use a mass produced chalk line purchased at the local hardware store but for centuries in Japan, Wooden ink line Sumitsubos have been traditionally associated with the Daiku (Master Japanese Carpenter).
Sumitsubo or ‘ink-line pots’ would often be carved by the craftsman himself using favourite designs and motifs around his ink-pot.
Using high density strong woods like Mulberry or Keyaki, Sumitsubos ‘pod’ would be filled with absorbent silk or cotton soaked with ink. A thin line of silk wound round a wooden wheel would run through at each end of the ‘Pond’ soaking up the ink which the carpenter would then ’snap’ over the surface to be cut, carved or painted.
This is a beautiful example of a traditional hand carved Sumitsubo complete with silk line, marker pin and working spindle wheel.
What a great and unique gift to give the wood worker in your life…
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