Paper Review: Stonehenge Legion Mini Artist Pad Sample Set, Part 1

Review by Tina Koyama

When Ana asked me if I’d like to review the Stonehenge Legion Mini Artist Pad Sampler Set, I was delighted! I have received a few pads in Art Snacks subscriber boxes, but I’d never sampled the whole collection. I know some artists swear by the distinctive textures of certain Stonehenge papers, so I’ve been curious about them.

Legion box

According to Legion’s website, “Stonehenge was created in 1972 specifically as a 100% cotton deckled paper for the printmaking community, made to rival the more expensive European mould-made papers. It was quickly adopted not just by printmakers, but by artists across [sic] working in a broad spectrum of media.” 

I had always thought of the paper line as being more for wet media than dry, so as a colored pencil fan, I was pleasantly surprised to further read the following: “The paper of choice of many members of the Colored Pencil Society of America, Stonehenge has the ability to take multiple layers of wax-based and oil-based colored pencil without any buildup, allowing colors to penetrate and absorb into the surface of the sheet.”

 Legion unboxing

The set contains 13 small pads – each containing one of Legion’s papers. The entire Legion Stonehenge collection is represented here. Since the toned and other specialty papers would be better tested with different media from the more traditional white papers, I have split the pack into two review parts. Today in Part 1, I’ll give an overview of the whole collection and test seven papers. Part 2 will cover the remaining six papers.

Legion pads

While I’m talking about the sample pads themselves, I have one petty picky point: The dimensions. They are 2 ½ by 3 ¾ inches. I don’t know if Artist Trading Cards (ATC) are still a thing, but I bet that extra quarter-inch annoys members of that community, which defines the ATC as 2 ½ by 3 ½ inches.

OK, a second picky point: Although the pad cover descriptions suggest appropriate media for each paper’s texture, weights are provided for only the two coldpress aqua papers. I think weight is an important factor for any paper, regardless of how it might be used, and I’d like to see that information on each sample.

The seven white papers I’m looking at today are Stonehenge Aqua Hotpress, Stonehenge White, Stonehenge Aqua Coldpress (140 lb.), Stonehenge Aqua Coldpress Heavy (300 lb.), Stonehenge Light (which is significantly lighter than 90 lb.), Stonehenge Warm White, and Lenox Cotton. (The ones I haven’t indicated or guessed weights on feel close to 90 lb.)

Legion Stonehenge sample pads

On one side, I tested student-grade Van Gogh watercolors, a Kuretake Brush Writer, a Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor marker, and a Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencil. On the reverse side, I used my Sailor Naginata Fude de Mannen fountain pen with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo ink, a Mitsubishi Hi-Uni 6B graphite pencil, a Prismacolor pencil, and a Sakura Pigma Graphic 1 pen. The dry samples are especially useful in seeing the papers’ textures.

Legion paper samples, side 1 Legion paper samples, side 2

Finally, I picked three papers – Aqua Hotpress, White, and Lenox Cotton – to make sketches. I’m out of practice scaling down to the size of an ATC, so I looked around my desk for something small and easy to sketch – and immediately spotted a head of garlic. (What – you don’t keep a head of garlic on your desk at all times?) I used the Sailor fude pen on the smooth hotpress, Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle watercolor pencils on the White, and Boku-Undo e-sumi watercolor (reviewed here) on the Lenox Cotton. 

Aqua Hotpress sample Stonehenge White sample Lenox Cotton sample

All of these papers, with surfaces sized beautifully for wet media, perform scrumptiously. I especially enjoy the subtle texture of the Stonehenge White with colored pencils. I can’t recommend one over another, as paper results will always depend on the specific media and techniques used with them. But getting a taste of these samples has definitely made my mouth water. After playing a bit more, I’m going to get larger pads of my favorites to explore further. 

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will include Stonehenge colored papers and that fascinating synthetic stuff, Yupo.

Legion sketch tests

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tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.

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