I wrote about printmaking papers in my series about the various supplies and tools needed for linocut printmaking at home. But since then I have got myself a small press and have been able to try out a few of the heavier printmaking papers.

So here’s my humble review of a few papers I have encountered so far … (and I will add more when I’ve tried more)

I got a variety pack of printmaking papers from Handprinted.co.uk who have some lovely printmaking equipment and supplies (including my new press). This is the link to the pack – it’s at the bottom of the page if you scroll down. I don’t have any affiliate links with the company, by the way.

These are my initial thoughts, and I will add more after more experience with these papers.

The papers were:

  • Fabriano Unica. A nice thick 250gsm paper. It’s a warm off-white with a slightly textured surface.
  • Somerset Satin 300gsm. Very thick. Slightly smoother than the Fabriano. Another warm off-white and has a more obvious front and back surface.
  • Kent 190gsm. A less creamy cooler off-white, very smooth with a “luxury cartridge paper” look and feel and a slight sheen.
  • Snowdon 300gsm. A white paper with a very slight texture. It is nearly as smooth as the Kent paper.
  • Shoji, an incredible 48gsm. Very thin paper with an obvious smooth front for printing and much rougher back. Very smooth warm white.

This preliminary experiment was not the fairest, as I was also learning to use the press. As I learn more about these papers, I will update my thoughts here.

My favourite paper was the Kent 190gsm. It produced the best result in this early test. I prefer smoother papers, and I liked the off-white colour as well. I have bought more of this paper and am now using it for my print of the Barbican Conservatory.

Another advantage of this paper is that it is one of the cheaper papers in this selection.

I expected to be most fond of the Somerset paper. I am biased towards it as I have used it before in printmaking classes and it is made near Wells in Somerset (which is the county I was raised in). However, although it worked well in this test, results from the smoother papers – Kent, Snowdon and Shoji were better for me. We will see if my opinion changes over time.

The Japanese paper – Shoji – was amazing, and I will have to experiment further. It seemed ridiculous to put such a slender, delicate-seeming paper through the press – but the results were great. I haven’t tried printing by hand with this paper yet – but it would obviously be a lot easier than any paper I’ve used so far.

I love the idea that you can print on such thin paper.