A new batch of Stonehenge and some additional thoughts.
Left: Page spread from my last journal showing a cut out brush pen sketch of Gert done on a piece of Stonehenge from a pad, and a cream sample from, my first batch of Stonehenge.
Early in March I was able to talk to Michael Ginsburg at Legion Paper (they produce and distribute Stonehenge paper). He wanted me to look at current runs of Stonehenge paper. I’m the first to admit that paper varies from batch to batch; each paper is made with tolerances in mind. I was willing to take an additional look at Stonehenge paper because it is such an affordable paper. I looked at a pad of white Stonehenge and some white sheets from a different lot than my cream samples.
First I have to say that I am not a fan of padded paper—paper sold in pads. My experience has shown that when I compare paper from a pad to its sister paper in sheets the surface of the paper from the pad is always more compressed and usually less interesting in texture to me. Additionally, the grain direction on a pad is often not in a useful direction (unless you want tall, thin books). And of course you don’t have any deckle edges on a pad, while on the sister sheet you might have up to 4 deckle edges depending on the paper.
Despite my open (and often stated) prejudice against pads I’m also first to admit that I love Strathmore 500 Series vellum Bristol in pads. I find that the compression of padding creates just the paper surface I love for my colored pencil work.
I also have padded Stonehenge on my recommendation list for my colored pencil students because so many people enjoy working on it—I like to expose students to all sorts of papers even papers beyond those I usually use.
I had several wonderful surprises with the pad of Stonehenge. It was a 9 x 12 inch page and the grain actually ran with the 9-inch width, which meant I could have made a 6 x 9 inch textblock out of it had I chosen to do so. The paper also folded well with the grain with little cracking.
Left: Stonehenge sample taken from a 9 x 12 inch pad (cropped). Gouache Gert in the foreground heavily reworked with no problems of paper deterioration. Top right—delightful with dip pen, no pulling and picking up of fibers, or pilling like the previous samples.
What I enjoyed most about this paper, however, was how it took brush pen work. I just loved the way the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen glided over the surface, creating a smooth and textured line. You can see a comparison of the line quality on the new padded sample and the older cream sample in the first image of this post.
The most amazing aspect of this padded paper for me was my dip pen test. I couldn’t use dip pen at all on my previous sheet sample. On the paper from the pad I found that no fibers caught in my nib and I was able to create a variety of lines and shading without any pilling of the paper.
The sizing is still such that my normally waterproof pens bleed slightly if I get to them with paint before the lines dry, but this is no worse and no better than most of my regular papers. (It's the same or worse on watercolor papers where the sizing holds the ink up off the paper longer and ink on such papers has a greater tendency to bleed.)
With watercolor and gouache I found the paper held up to repeated washes. It is not a watercolor paper, but the sizing on this paper allows you to play with the paint a bit, move it around. Like my earlier tests the paper takes awhile to dry.
Even colored pencil worked better for me on sheets from the pad. There was less resistence to the pencils and the fibers did not resist and ultimately break down.
So I feel happy continuing to recommend this padded paper to my colored pencil students. I also believe that if you like paper from pads and are looking for a mixed media paper you should check out this pad. I know that I will return to it for a variety of ink approaches.
Left: Sample from the new lot of 22 x 30 inch sheets. I was happy with how this took colored pencil better. Also I was happier with the dip pen action. This lot was much smoother than the previous sheets I tested.
The sheet paper from a recent lot also behaved better than my earlier samples. There was no pilling or snatching of fibers with the dip pen. Drawing materials did not push up fibers. In all the sizing on the sheets was something that was totally useful for sewn on the spine journals. (Not casebound journals because the signatures still do not hold together as well where they meet at the spine, when compared to other papers I typically use for casebound books.)
The sheet paper was not as smooth as the padded sample (which I didn’t expect given that it wasn’t subjected to the pressure of the padding process), and I wouldn’t use sheets for stand alone brush pen and or dip pen work.
I also folded and tore down the sheets I was working within a couple hours after their delivery on a cold day. While there was a lot of cracking, even when folding with the grain, I know that some of that relates to the paper not being allowed to adjust and absorb moisture after transit. (The padded paper folded perfectly with the grain.) I will have to verify this with additional folding tests at a later date.
I know several past students and several readers of my blog have written in desperate to find affordable papers to bind into journals. I still believe that Stonehenge deserves a look. Current tolerances for the paper create a smoother paper which definitely will provide you with an alternative to the more expensive category of watercolor papers.
The signatures made from the 22 x 30 inch sheets were made up into a book I will probably not use until the summer; but I'll report back, with actual journal pages, on how it works.
As I say in my February review:
“If you are looking for an economical sheet that is sturdy enough for collage, takes mixed media, and binds up into a serviceable book, Stonehenge deserves a place on the list, even if it might not be at the top of that list.”
Read my past posts about Stonehenge in order:
February 3, 2010
Bell Museum Sketch Out: Part 2—and Some Thoughts on Stonehenge
(The new samples I worked with at the beginning of March fared much better with pen and ink than the samples in this February review.)
February 5, 2010
More Thoughts on Stonehenge
February 23, 2010
Stonehenge Paper: More Tests—A Deal Breaker
The sheets from the recent lot were, as stated in this current review, smoother than the original sheets reviewed and the “dry-rub-off” problem is no more pronounced than what you might find with many other printmaking papers used in this fashion. I think it may be a useful addition to “suitable” papers. As long as the structures you make with it are sewn-on-the-spine and not casebound. It can also provide an economical art paper for class work. (Again, I still have to do additional testing of the folding.)
February 24, 2010
Stonehenge Paper: Mores Tests—Colored Pencil
Stonehenge More Tests—Concluded
February 27, 2010
Favorite Papers?…Buying Paper Samples—It Just Makes Sense