Printmaking Papers

by Louis F. Dow II

Probably the “industry standard” printmaking paper is Arches Cover. It’s the paper we use the most and that I get the most call for. It’s a wonderful paper with an attractive deckle and a good finish. I also think it’s way overpriced – because it comes with the Arches watermark.

Perhaps my favorite paper, though, is Stonehenge. I’ve found it to be a more serviceable paper. Very often my monotypes, especially, go out to dealers, come back in (unfortunately), go back out again, and (sometimes) on and on. Pieces printed on Stonehenge are a lot easier to keep clean, and clean up when they get marked or damaged, than any of the other papers. Also, it’s priced much more reasonably, not because the quality is any lower but because it’s a domestic paper. The finish is a little harder and smoother than Arches but the finish is also easily repaired. In my opinion Stonehenge is tons better than any of the other suitable fine art papers for many uses.

Other favorites I’ve used include Somerset Velvet, especially the buff color, a more toned paper that goes really well on “old master” type plates, especially when they’re printed using Graphic Chemical Etching Dark Brown ink. This creates a really classic look.

Rives BFK is another paper I really like. It has a very soft and very white finish that just seems to fit many of my etchings. I rarely get a call for it for customer editions, though.

Copperplate is a German, waterleaf paper (meaning little or no sizing) that’s also wonderful with many etchings. I haven’t had a call for it in a while, but it’s another great paper. It’s also another very expensive paper.

Rives lightweight is another very nice paper that I don’t get much call for lately but that’s a nice paper. It’s very light, though, and easily damaged. Etchings look great on this paper.

Another standard paper that I don’t get much call for these days is Fabriano. This is also a good drawing paper.

The ones I’ve mentioned are the papers I’ve used most often – they make up what I consider to be the “standard” fine art printing papers. They’re mostly mould made papers (Stonehenge is machine made).

On occasion I’ve used hand-made papers. They can be very interesting with a more textured finish, and they’re sometimes fine for monotypes. The problem for editioning is that they’re not as uniform as the machine or mould made. They can also be very expensive.

Sometimes, I look at a plate, or have an idea for a monotype in my head, that calls for a particular paper. They’re all different in finish, durability, deckle, and so on. We stock a reasonable variety of papers in the studio and you can try various papers this Monday at Fulwood Press’ regular open studio, Monotype Monday. The studio is open beginning at 6:00 p.m., our Master Printmaker will be on hand to help newcomers and experienced printmakers alike; he will offer tips, explain and demonstrate techniques, give critiques and do other things to help folks have a successful evening. The cost is only $25.00 which includes everything except etching plates and paper.

Etching, monotype/monoprint and other fine art printmaking techniques are available, the studio is fully equipped and etching plates and paper are available for purchase or they may be brought in with you.

The studio is located at 251 NW 23rd Street, Miami, FL 33127. For more information just e-mail or call us at: 818-305-4048.