Once she was gone, Yujia began to think about what she was going to do next. Even though it would be a good idea to start on the sketches for the shop right away, she didn't need to since the shop wasn't going to open immediately. She planned to draw one large sketch of scenery to display right at the front of the shop and a few more smaller sketches to display the versatility of the pencil. Overall, all of it wouldn't take longer than four or five days, so for the rest of the day, she could consider herself as free to have time for herself.
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For once, Yujia could use the newly gained spare time she had to do something that she had put to the back of her mind. While Hui'er worked on a piece of embroidery which she seemed to be interested in perfecting for the past few days whenever she had time, Yujia went to the cabinets and brought out a large package of ink.
A while back, she bought thirteen colored inksticks from her master, who she didn't even know the identity of then. Colored ink wasn't what was currently very popular, but Yujia still bought thirteen sets regardless since she had plans for them. Back then, she didn't know if she would have time to carry out her plans, but now, she finally could.
Yujia wanted to make actual paint.
This was something that she had always wanted since she transmigrated. Oil or acrylic paint were her go-to supplies when painting. Watercolor, to her, was mostly something she avoided up until now since she wanted to be able to control her paint. Even though she did enjoy oil paint more than acrylic because of the slow speed it took to dry and therefore the things she could accomplish with it while the paint was still wet, she ended up working with acrylic just as much when her budget ran low. Eventually, acrylics grew on her just as much as oil paints.
Yujia wasn't completely confident on how she would make acrylic paint. With it being a type of plastic in a time period where plastic wasn't a thing, Yujia figured that it would be fairly impossible to create something like acrylic. Maybe Yujia could make tempera paint out of eggs if she wanted something similar to acrylic, but for now, oil paint seemed like what she should attempt to make if wanted paint.
Truthfully, Yujia wasn't sure how she was going to make oil paint either. She didn't know all the ingredients and process of creating the paints. All she knew was that whatever paint she was going to make, she would definitely need pigments.
And that was why she conveniently bought thirteen sticks of pigment.
No matter what paint she decided to make, she would need pigment in some form. Even though there must've been other things added in the inksticks to make the pigment stick together in a solid shape, she forgot about this point when she was buying the ink. Now that she had the ink though, she had to figure out a way to use all of it somehow, and what better way than experimenting?
After a while of searching and Hui'er repeatedly asking if help was needed, Yujia collected all the supplies she needed to begin.
She had a shallow bowl that she made the graphite-clay mixture in when creating pencils, and in the courtyard, she found a small rock that fit in her hand just right. Picking up a red inkstick, Yujia began her process by breaking apart the red inkstick. Transforming the bowl and rock into something like a mortar, she began to turn the chunks of inkstick into finer powdered pigment.
It wasn't difficult breaking the inkstick down, and Yujia estimated that it would take her around an hour to turn all the inksticks into pigment. If the pigment turned out unusable, an hour was time she could afford to waste. She would just go and ask her master for some pure pigments if that was the case.
While Yujia repeatedly struck and ground the orange pigment in the bowl, Hui'er became curious too. She moved herself and her embroidery closer to Yujia, watching what she was doing with attentive eyes. "Miss," she asked, "what's this for?"
"I want to make a new type of ink," Yujia answered. She would say "paint", but in this time period, ink was the correct terminology.
"Why? Is the ink not good enough?"
"No, it's definitely good." Yujia smiled a bit. "It's just like the pencils though. I want to make something new that no one has seen before."
Hui'er nodded at that and went back to her embroidery.
Memories of her first day transmigrating and her pencil carving flashed in Yujia's mind, making her smile a bit more. So many things had happened since then. And to think how Hui'er used to look at her when she said she was inventing a pencil… Compared to now, where she accepted the concept of her Fourth Miss inventing right away, her reaction back then was completely different.
"Remember how in the past, when I was sharpening my pencil mold, you looked at me almost like I was crazy?" Yujia brought up.
think you were crazy!" Hui'er laughed. "You looked as if you were sharpening a knife."
"What do you think I look like now?" Yujia showed her bowl of red dust to Hui'er.
"Not as threatening as you did back then." Then, Hui'er made a face. "Maybe you're grinding up powdered blood."
Yujia stopped grinding the inkstick, her eyebrows furrowing. "Powdered blood? Is that a thing?"
"Probably not, but the color does resemble blood."
With one look at the red powder, Yujia decided that Hui'er was right. It really did look like the color of blood.
"Well, I suppose you just have an insane Fourth Miss, then. She sharpened sticks in the past, and now, she's powdering blood." Yujia shrugged and resumed in her actions.
Hui'er smiled and replied in a soft voice, "Alright. I have an insane Fourth Miss to serve, and she does things that are peculiar. But no matter what, she is still my Fourth Miss, so as long as what she's doing makes her happy, then I am well too."
Yujia froze again, thinking back to what she thought a few moments ago about Xiaoyi. She thought that as long as Xiaoyi was happy, then all was well. Hui'er, on the other hand, told her something just as similar.
Hui'er thought so highly of her. It seemed like Yujia truly did mean something to her maid. The time they spent together was not long, but somewhere along the time that the two interacted, a bond had formed— a bond that Yujia was grateful for, and a bond she didn't want to ever break.
Noticing that Yujia was frozen in thought, Hui'er glanced back over. "Miss?"
Yujia blinked and looked up, waving her hand. "Oh, it's nothing. I was just thinking about some things."
Hui'er threaded the needle in her hand back through the fabric she worked with. Yujia went back to turning the inksticks into powder.
Sunlight filtered through the thin paper windows, bringing its warmth into the room. Fresh spring air flowed in from the small cracks beneath windows and walls. Along with it came the sweet melody of birds and the busy sounds of servants in the villa working.
Today, Yujia decided, she was content.
If only life could freeze at this one place in time and never move onward.
Xiaoyi and Yujia talked a few more moments, and then, Yujia was left alone with Hui'er. Xiaoyi didn't want lessons today. It seemed like she just wanted to have someone to talk with about Young Master Yu.