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Strathmore Printmaking Papers—New Product Review

September 8, 2014

140625_A_B_300Printing
Above: Pencil and Aquash Pen on Strathmore 300 Series Lightweight Printmaking Paper.

At the end of June I received some printmaking paper samples from Strathmore. I don't do a lot of printing any more (once in a while I make some linoleum block or eraser carvings) but I love Strathmore papers and I love using papers for uses they weren't originally intended, so I set about doodling on the papers to see what they would "take."

I grabbed the 300 series first because it was the lightest weight (120g/m2) and I'm always on the lookout for papers that I can bind into useful journals. At this weight it would be foldable and potentially usable for binding.

I've also been looking for papers to sketch on with pencil so I grabbed a pencil first. The paper has a nice, fine tooth that can impart a bit of character to your pencil line yet hold delicate work, so I quite liked it for pencil.

Next I went at it with the Pentel Aquash Brush Pen with Light Black Ink. The brush tip glides nicely on the paper, yet allows for a dry-brush effect if desired because of the slight texture. I layered and layered the strokes of ink during my test and this brush pen's pigmented ink did NOT bleed through the paper. When the paper got totally saturated it did buckle slightly but it kept drying to a reasonable flatness for a lighterweight paper that's had heavy ink put on it.

140625_C_300PrintingLeft: My gouache test on the Strathmore 300 Series Lightweight Printmaking paper.

I followed the Aquash Light Black Ink experiment by pulling out the gouache and putting six layers of heavy water and paint on the paper without any gouache seaping through the paper.

My sketch was made with Faber-Castell Pitt Calligraphy Pen and the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Neither of those pens bled on this paper when I went immediately to wet washes of gouache.

To my delight there was no seepage of gouache through this paper and despite the heavy water usage the paper puckered a bit in places, but dried very flat. I love it when a paper does that. The paint also seemed to float on the surface of this paper and stay bright and vibrant. I finished the sketch by restating the PPBP on top of the dried gouache.

140625_D_300_PrintingLeft: Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketch on the 300 series printmaking paper.

My final experiment on that day was to just sketch with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. I'm pleased to say it glided happily over the surface and didn't seep through the paper. It created a crisp, clean line regardless of whether I tried to do hairlines or bold strokes or allowed the brush to create drybrush effects. It was fun to work with the pen on this paper. 

The only downside to using the pens in any of these experiments is that they were bold enough that you could see the lines on the reverse side—show through, not bleed or seap through. For some binders who use their journals for visual arts this would be a deal breaker, but for me the show through was really no greater than one of my favorite binding papers Arches Text Wove (Vellin Arches). 

There is no unpleasant odor with this paper wet or dry.

Strathmore's documentation calls this a "natural white." Don't worry, it is NOT cream. It truly is a lovely natural white. They also say it is:

ideally suited for relief printing, such as block or linocut, practicing and proofing. Medium-textured surface is soft, durable, and can absorb large amounts of ink. Contains high alpha cellulose wood fiber and is acid free.

I found it to be all those things (except I didn't print on it).

I think printmakers will like this paper. And I think non-printmakers will enjoy using it as a drawing paper, or even a lightweight mixed-media paper. It has possibilities. The 300 series is available in pads from 5 x 7 inches to 18 x 24 inches. 

Since it is only available in pads I'm unlikely to bind many books with it. But I could see myself binding some soft-covered books (pamphlets, double pamphlets, and soft-covered sewn-on-the-spine structures) preparatory to running out for a quick trip of sketching, if I found myself without a book and had a pad of this paper on hand.

All three papers in this new line which includes a 400 series and 500 series paper, were developed in collaboration between Strathmore Artist Papers and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. They clearly put their heads together and came up with an interesting and useful paper in the 300 series. I'm looking forward to testing the 400 series and 500 series papers later. And I will report back to you. Those papers are heavier in weight. 

Since the time I received my samples I've now seen the paper in all the usual stores so you won't have difficulty finding it. (And yes, this is my disclaimer: I wasn't paid to review this paper or given any suggestions, etc., but I was sent free samples and pretty much everyone knows what I do when I get my hands on a new paper.)

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