Sunday, 5 June 2016

Watercolour Papers For Stamping 1: Why, What and How

This post is really just a pre-amble to some product comparisons I've done this weekend - they will be posted over the next few weeks in 4 parts.

A lot of cardmakers and papercrafters use watercolour paper to make card-fronts or to create special effects. Two of my favourite cardmakers are Kristina Werner and Jennifer McGuire, both of whom do beautiful watercolour effects - either with 'proper' watercolour paint or using inks or liquid-watercolours and so on. I've noticed that a lot of cardmakers on YouTube, for example, use what I would called 'craft watercolour paper' (craft, not kraft!) - this is often very expensive for what it is and is nothing more than student-quality 100% woodpulp watercolour paper - usually hot-press or a very low-texture cold-press. Now, I'm not going to waste my professional-quality £30-per-block watercolour paper for cards or similar, so I always  have a stash of student-grade paper that I buy when it's on offer and I use it for making colour-charts (screw the whole "make them on the paper you use" thing - I have a master set on cheap paper and then before painting something 'proper', I paint swatches on the edges of the paper, outside of the picture area) - I use the same paper for cards, for example, if I need a watercolour panel. These kinds of techniques range from the beautiful hand-lettering that Kristina is famous for to no-line-colouring (ditto) and the watercolour painting of stamped images.

The lovely, generous and friendly people at St Cuthbert's Mill located in the county of Somerset (where my mother's father's family were from), here in the United Kingdom just a few months ago sent me not only a few dozen Imperial sheets (30 × 22" or 76.2 × 55.9cm) of beautiful Bockingford cold-press (my main go-to paper), but also a block of Saunders Waterford cold-press High-White (an ultra-white) to try out and maybe 50 or so small swatches of all the different papers, textures and weights so that I could try them all out and share the results with you!

Amidst the samples was a non-watercolour-paper, to my surprise! Somerset Printmaking Paper - this is a 100% cotton, archival-quality printmaking paper - they sent me a piece of 300gsm Textured White, which feels a bit like a cold-press watercolour paper and reminds me a lot of Saunders Waterford in terms of how the surface feels - that is also a 100% cotton paper. At first I was like "but I don't do printmaking - I don't need this!" but then earlier this week, I had a kind of epiphany - what is rubber-stamping? PRINTMAKING!

So, whilst Somerset Printmaking Paper is NOT cheap if you buy it by the 25-sheet-pack (it's about the same price as Bockingford when it's on a per-sheet basis at Imperial size - which is actually pretty economical), I wanted to see how it performed for stamping and maybe watercolouring of stamped images...but, being a scientist, I can't just look at a single paper and review it - oh no - I had to do a proper comparison! 

The products I decided to compare are as follows - I opted to use hot-press watercolour paper since it stamps better as a rule, owing to the flat surface:

Somerset Printmaking Paper (SCM) - 300gsm, Textured, White.
[100% cotton; internally sized; long grain; 88% TAPPI]
Bockingford Watercolour Paper (SCM) - 300gsm, Hot Press, White.
[100% bleached chemical pulp; internally sized; short grain; 89% TAPPI]
Saunders Waterford Watercolour Paper (SCM) - 190gsm; Hot Press, White.
[100% cotton; internally sized + gelatine surface sized; long grain; 76% TAPPI]
Saunders Waterford Watercolour Paper (SCM) - 190gm; Hot Press; High White.
[100% cotton; internally sized + gelatine surface sized; long grain; 89% TAPPI]
Bristol Board (D&R) - 250gsm; Plate Finish; White.
[unknown composition]
Premium Smooth Card (HC) - 300gsm; Smooth Finish; White.
[unknown composition]

SCM = St Cuthbert's Mill; D&R = Daler & Rowney; HC = Hobbycraft
TAPPI = Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry [Brightness Scale]

DECLARATION St Cuthbert's Mill provided me with samples of their papers for review - all other items used in this review I bought myself. Note when items are provided to me for review, I am not obligated to give a good review and my agreement with companies is that I must be able to give a 100% honest review.

Other Materials Used:

Stamps
Craft Asylum "Home Sweet Home" photopolymer stamp set
Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz Collection "Papillon CMS 106" red rubber stamp set.
Brushes and Tools
Winsor & Newton kolinsky sable artist's brush - Size 0 Round.
Papermania acrylic stamp block - 4.00 × 5.25".
Alcohol Markers
Promarker - Cool Grey 2 (CG2) 
Promarker - Cool Grey 3 (CG3)
Promarker - Cool Grey 4 (CG4)
Promarker - Shale (R215)
Promarker - Slate (V715)
Promarker - Sunflower (Y156)
Dye Ink
Tsukineko Memento dye ink - "Rich Cocoa ".
Ranger Archival dye ink - "Jet Black ".
Pigment Ink
Tsukineko VersaFine fine-grade pigment ink - "Onyx Black ".
Watermark Ink*
Tsukineko VersaMark watermarking ink.
(* NB: only used to pre-prime photopolymer stamps - glycerol can be used instead)
Specialist Inks
Ranger Distress Ink - "Iced Spruce ".
Ranger Distress Ink - "Hickory Smoke ".
Ranger Distress Ink - "Barn Door ".
Ranger Distress Ink - "Gathered Twigs ".
Ranger Distress Ink - "Fossilized Amber ".

[...to be continued...]

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