Printmaking with Linocut: Paper Choices
A few months ago I bought a large variety of papers for linocut printmaking. I bought some French papers, USA papers, and papers made in Japan. I did this in order to find the best quality and most affordable paper choices for linocut.
It was a lot of fun to order the variety of paper. I have only started on this process, but the paper choices have been ones that are highly recommended for relief printmaking.
What should I choose?
There are so many different types of paper being made and are commercially available it would take some time and money to go through them all. Some websites suggest some specific paper choices for certain types of printmaking.
The suggestions made from art shops about which paper to use is a great place to start. However, many papers can be interchangeable with the different types of printmaking.
So it doesn’t really matter which paper you use as long as you like the results. You are after all the artist.
Besides, it can be really fun to mix and match and to experiment with the different papers just to see what happens.
I have used a Japanese style paper and a 100% Cotton paper on the same block and have gotten some interesting results.
What is sizing? I don’t know about you but before 6 months ago, I had only heard about “sizing” when it came to fabric.
Sizing provides a water barrier in the paper so that water does not easily get absorbed into the paper fibers.
A paper that has sizing will have the ink sit on top of the paper fibers. An example is watercolor paper.
A paper without sizing will allow the paper fibers to absorb the ink into the paper beneath the surface.
Handmade Paper vs Machine Made
There are a lot of beautifully made handmade paper out there as well as machine made paper.
Machine made papers are made with a machine (hence the name) but may also come with a more consistent product as well as a smoother surface. Machine made papers can also be easily printed on either side. One more perk can be the price, usually the price is a bit better on these types of paper.
Handmade papers have a little bit of character which makes them beautiful to work with. Since handmade papers are made by hand it can affect the price and make each sheet a bit more money.
Both papers are great, but the difference is really just the way it was made. So it really is up to your preference. I have found value in both kinds of paper.
The papers themselves are made up of pulp or plant or vegetable fibers.
This could be cotton fibers which a lot of European and American papers are made of. Some Japanese paper pulp contains bark fibers from local bushes or some tree fibers.
I bought some paper once from a man who made the pulp from alfalfa he found in a large heap on the side of the road. After he processed it it was made into a beautiful paper with a lot of texture.
The pulp is the ingredients of the paper which is then placed in a mold either handmade or machine.
What kind to get?
Every artist is going to find what they like and do not like through experimentation. I would suggest purchasing a variety of different papers and try them out. You may not like them for linocut, but find value in monotype.
I may still continue my experimenting with different papers in the future, but for now I think I found some really great ones that I enjoyed working with. My top 5 paper choices and a little about them will be here.
If you would like to learn more about the linocut process how you can get started.