Greetings, and a warm welcome to you!

Today, we will be looking at choosing paper. There will be subsequent posts on the specifics of paper to keep the length of them down and easily digestible. I find I can get rather wordy!

Here we go…

Choosing Paper:

All artists are different. What works for you may not work for someone else. Learn as much as you can from many different people and sources. You never know when you’re going to run into that perfect combination for you.

Whichever paper you end up using, please, please, please do not twist, fold, or roll your original pieces. This only serves to help destroy your art.

As scribes, both illuminators and calligraphers, we need a foundation for our art piece. The most logical choice is a modern art paper. Paper is relatively inexpensive and readily available, in either local art and craft supply stores, or on the internet. We will save animal skin vellum and parchment for another time.

The Phrases that Pay:

Before we get started talking about papers, do yourself a favor and memorize these phrases: “Archival”, “pH balanced” and “Acid Free”. These phrases mean that your art paper has a greater chance of not turning yellow or yucky brown and degrading over time. Not all art papers are created equal, and not all are “Archival”. If you want your art to last, or if the person receiving the piece of art wants it to last, then use archival papers.

I have several friends who are part of the group who originally started the SCA, many of their first award scrolls are holey. Yes, hole-y… and brown… and fragile… and a little smelly (decomposing paper is still something decomposing – Eeeeeeew!). Even though some of them haven’t played SCA in years, they still treasure these “artifacts” of the SCA past. It is truly a shame that the early scribes didn’t know to useĀ  archival quality papers. (Let’s not even talk about the use of magic markers instead of paint and good ink… At least not today, we’ll save that for another time, too.)

Play with paper!

Get a bunch of different types of paper then test your paint and calligraphy ink on them. Test them to see which ones you like best. You are the artist, so it’ll be up to you to make your pieces on the paper you like, and that works well with your paints and inks. Some on-line stores do offer sample packs of paper, for free or a small fee. Don’t hesitate to order these, they can be your best way to do your test pieces without having to purchase whole sheets of paper that you may not use again.

Breaking News: Ink and Paints Repelled by Paper!

I will say this: there are some papers that will repel certain types of paints, and some inks, too. When you’re playing with your materials, keep in mind that if it’s not easy to work on, or just isn’t going right, it probably is not going to be the correct paper for you to work with. This doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be a good paper or other materials for the person sitting next to you to use.

Tomorrow, we will discuss paper weights, and no, I don’t mean those glass snow-globe looking things on your parents desks from the 1970s!

Hopefully Helpful,