Gouache Dogs Part 2

October 10, 2011

See the complete post for details.

Above: Japanese Chin, sketched with the Pentel Aquash brush with light black ink and gouache. The journal is handmade with Stonehenge Kraft paper (read below for more details on this paper).

This is part two of a two-part series. See Gouache Dogs Part 1 here.

In May 2011 I made a batch of books which included a 10 x 8 inch journal made of Stonehenge Kraft colored paper. Follow the link and you'll see it; it's the book on the right—with dark purple book cloth and magenta and yellow painted swirls on the decorative paper I made.

As I mentioned in that earlier post the paper cracked considerably when folded with the grain. This makes it problematic for bookbinding. Despite the problem I went ahead and cased the book in. It was a beautiful book. I also went ahead and tore down another 35 sheets of the paper a couple months later (there was a sale at Wet Paint, 50 sheets for the 100 sheet price!). They all had the same problem. I should have used this book first and I want you to learn from my eagerness!

The other textblocks (two are sewn and glued) will not be made into books, it would be a waste of binding materials and efforts. The remaining folded sigs will be trimmed at the fold and the paper will all be used as flat sheets for painting or drawing.

This is because after only TWO days of use the above journal started to fall apart because of the cracked paper. The sewing holes started to enlarge and the first signature started to wiggle out.

Since I am the bookbinder and I know what I did in binding this book (and I have never had this problem before and I can clearly see the holes increasing even as I simply look at them), I know it's not a one time thing and it will happen whenever I try to sew this paper into a book.

I'm heartbroken in a lot of ways, because I was one of the people pushing for this color from Stonehenge. I wanted a quality paper that is inexpensive with just this color and tone for journaling.

Legion Paper is aware of the folding problems I experienced (I sent them photographs) and the recent binding issues. Paper is made in such huge batches (thousands and thousands of sheets) that while they know this is happening they won't be able to look into changing it until the next time they run this paper.

There is also the reality that in accommodating the folding requirements the texture and color of the sheet might change. I know that they do not want to compromise on the current quality of the paper. Let's face it, the number one market for their paper is artists who use the paper FLAT.

Let me just say, as a FLAT paper this Stonehenge Kraft is a wonderful paper. I couldn't have asked for anything more. It takes gouache in such an easy way, without buckling, that I'd work on it all day long if I could.

That said, I need paper for my journals, and this isn't suitable for binding. Even a sewn-on-the-spine binding which anchors the signature to the spine is going to have problems because the holes are going to continue to split with any opening and closing of the pages. And if you try to do an exposed spine sewing with paper cracked on the fold you're going to get a book that self-destructs with very little use!

So if you are interested in using this paper for binding please buy 1 sheet first and fold it and check how it folds for you, before you do something silly like tearing down 35 sheets. Sigh, I wish I had stopped sooner. I would have liked to have had the full 22 x 30 inch sheets for larger paintings or drawings.

I'll continue to look at this paper now and then and if the folding characteristics change I'll let you know.


111004JapaneseChinGouacheDe Left: Detail from the above journal painting because I think the brush strokes are fun to look at. I was using a 3/4 inch filbert. At "A" you'll see some of the paper color still coming through; "B" shows some dry brushed white revealing the paper color; "C" shows some magenta under the blue, with a thin line of the paper showing through at the lid; "D" is a mixed brown from the limited palette of colors used, overwhich a bit of blue has been added; "E" shows blending of white with the underlying colors (which were put in first; "F" shows dry brush storkes of heavier color application over a more diluted wash, which had been laid down first. The texture of the paper allows a lot of different approaches with the paint.

In the meantime, if you're using the paper flat it makes a great paper for gouache paintings. Other friends are enjoying it for colored pencil work as well. It takes the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen in a nice way, though the ink floats on the paper for a bit so watch what you do with your hand! Other friends have enjoyed printing (flat prints, not books) on this paper.

Because I also experienced moderate cracking with the grain on the new icy light blue color of Stonehenge when binding a book out of it (which is also shown in the May 30 post linked above) I would Not recommend you use that color for book binding projects either. I haven't used that journal yet so I don't know how it will hold up. It may fall just on the safe side of moderate cracking, then again it might not. To be safe, if you're interested in the icy light blue color of Stonehenge for binding, fold one sheet down first to test it.

If you must have a light blue paper to journal on I recommend that you go with Magnani Pescia's light blue sheet. It folds well and I have found that it takes wet and dry media well. (Here is an example of wet and dry media on Magnani Pescia, light blue.)

With the old colors of Stonehenge I have had only light cracking when folding with the grain and none of that has caused problems with binding. (There are some other issues with binding Stonehenge, such as the problem of glue seams delaminating between signatures—but many papers will do this so it isn't a deal breaker for me. If you would like a more complete report on my thoughts concerning Stonehenge paper please search "Stonehenge" in my blog's search engine. I went from being not a great fan to being a heavy user of the paper, for a host of reasons.) The old series of colors are still a great buy for binders, especially bookbinding teachers who want to keep supply costs down for their students yet still expose them to a quality art paper. It's always best to test a sheet or two first before you make a massive order.

There are a lot of papers in the world that aren't suitable for binding, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy their qualities and strengths outside of our journals. (Though I am sitting here pouting ever so slightly that I can't have jourrnals made of Stonehenge Kraft.)

I hope this post helps you avoid some costly experiments and disappointments.


  1. Reply

    Rats! I lost my comment when asked to sign in to post it. Basically, I was asking if there was any new information about the Kraft Brown Stonehenge, to wit: have they run a new batch and did they solve the problems you mention with cracking on the folds? Love your blog and site. I just found you when I went in search of info on the new Stonehenge colors.

  2. Reply

    Kelly, sorry there is no progress on this. I would recommend this paper for flat use (it’s lovely to sketch on and paint on using gouache), but I would not recommend it for folding and binding into books. I also would not recommend binding the icy blue which is another new color. I haven’t tried either the new white or new gray because I have plenty of papers in those colors that I currently use. Thanks for reading.

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