After doing the Art Supply Posse podcast last week about sketchbooks, I stumbled into my local art store, Artist’s and Craftsman, and found the smallest spiral sketchbook samplers so I grabbed all the varieties that had in stock to try out. Borden & Riley makes my beloved-but-discontinued favorite 100% Cotton Rag Rough Marker Paper that we used for lettering so I was interested in trying out some of their other papers. I picked up the #880 Royal Sketchbook($3.84), #234 Paris Paper for Pens ($2.33) and #15 Tuppence Sketch Bond ($2.33, size not shown on web site). Each book was spiral bound at the top of its diminutive 2.5×3.5″ size. The Royal Sketchbook (90lb) and Paris Paper for Pens (108lb) had 20 sheet and the Tuppence Sketch(70lb) included 50 sheets.
For each paper test, I used the same assortment of pens, pencils and markers on each paper to get a comparison to how they performed and then did a doodle specific to the type of paper. Let’s go!
The Royal Sketchbook was the book I had the most hope for because it had thick, creamy stock with some texture to it. The paper was warm white, almost ivory and reminded me immediately of the many multi-media sketchbooks I’ve tried like the Canson XL mixed media, the Strathmore mixed media and the Stillman & Birn Alpha paper. I immediately wanted this paper in a larger format. It was worth the $3.84 test to determine I wanted more of this paper.
I’d always heard mention of the Paris Paper for Pens as a good option for calligraphy, dip pens, lettering and such so I was definitely interested in seeing how this paper felt. Its a very smooth, bright white stock. Its touted as being bleed-proof and I got no show through on the back of the stock except with the teal blue Spectra Marker which is an alcohol marker like a Copic. So, I wouldn’t recommend this paper for Copic-style marker drawings but it held pen, fountain pen and flex nib line work cleanly. The smoothness of the stock was really interesting too. I look forward to experimenting with it more and trying a variety of brush pens. I Was able to add some water to my watercolor marker color and pencil but it did not move as easily as it did on the Royal Sketchbook paper. It did create some interesting effects though.
These were some additional fountain pen tests on the Paris Paper for Pens. Some standard writing with a fine nib Franklin Christoph as well as some flex writing with my Waterman.
And the last book I tried was the Tuppence Sketch which had the lightest weight paper. Once I’d tried the other two, I knew that the Tuppence was definitely the budget/dry media paper of the three. The grey PITT brush lines showed through a bit to the back and even some of the black pen from the “#” was starting to show through so this is definitely lightweight budget paper. The watercolor pencil did not move at all and the paper started to warp when water was added. When I did the larger sketch, I started to give up because the W&N watercolor brush markers didn’t move as smoothly as they do on more receptive paper so I kept adding more water which just made the paper buckle and the show through on the back is really bad. I pretty much abandoned the drawing at that point. Were I more inclined to do straight pencil sketches, I think this paper would be just fine. There’s a nice tooth to it — not so much that it will chew up your pencils but enough to hold some pigment and color. I might go back and try some colored pencil and graphite drawings on this paper to give it a second chance but I tend to prefer paper that can take at least a little bit of water media.
Borden & Riley is not one of the larger artist paper producers but they make good products so its worth checking with your local art supply shop to see if they carry them. I’m hoping that Artist & Craftsman will get a wider selection of their products in stock soon. I’d love to have a full sized Royal Sketchbook and a goodly-sized Paris Paper for Pens pad to use as well. Can never have too much paper, right?