Monday, 1 March 2010

Roz Stendahl tests Stonehenge Paper

Roz Stendahl (Roz Wound Up) has been testing Stonehenge Paper. This post links to her various blog posts this year on this topic.

The colours of Stonehenge Paper

As a preamble I'd like to emphasise that although it is used by artists for a variety of purposes, Stonehenge is actually a printing paper. Consequently it can't be expected to behave in the same way as, for example, a specialist drawing paper or watercolour paper. It's technical specification (sizing etc) is designed for getting the best results when using fine art printing methods. Nevertheless it is used by artists for artwork other than fine art printmaking as the reviews cited by Legion Paper indicate.

I've extracted some comments to give you a flavour of Roz's views. However each post is a detailed review and I really do RECOMMEND a proper read of each post if you use this paper or are interested in this paper. You can also click the images in each post and see a bigger image of the tests done.

Bear in mind that Roz's aim in doing these tests was to identify a good quality paper for art journaling which was readily accessible and which her students could use in a variety of ways.

Stonehenge Paper: A Test in which Roz sets out her objectives and why she is testing Stonehenge.
Historically I have not been fond of this paper. A friend even made me a button featuring my distaste. But I'm eager to find something workable for students just getting into visual journaling who don't want to spend $5 or more for a sheet or paper..............Several friends who work with graphite, however, love this paper and are always singing its praises. Printmaking friends tell me how much they love this paper.
Bell Museum Sketch Out: Part 2—and Some Thoughts on Stonehenge Paper in which Roz conducts various tests and comments on its use in a variety of different ways
I know this is a well-loved paper. Keep in mind that my comments are meant to alert you to characteristics of this paper that may matter to you in the way you bind books or work in your visual journal. Something that I find might be a negative characteristic might be just the characteristic you're seeking.
More Thoughts on Stonehenge Paper
In general I find watercolors, gouache, and acrylic to look flatter on this paper than on other printmaking papers I've painted on. Flatness of color is to be expected on a printmaking paper when using watercolor inks as the paper isn't sized to hold the ink floating in the sizing like a watercolor paper.
Stonehenge Paper: More Tests—A Deal Breaker
These two results: the soft paper taking an impression of what should be only light lines, and the rubbing off of non-smudgeable media such as ink on the previous pages are DEAL BREAKERS for me.

For me, the dissatifactions of working on this paper, even with simple work-arounds and adaptations to approach given a specific medium, leave me uninterested in working with this paper in my visual journals at this time. I'll give it another try in 5 to 10 years! This also means I won't be using it in my classes, even though it is so affordably priced. While I want to find my students "deals" on materials, my first priority is always to provide a successful experience.
Stonehenge Paper: More Tests—Colored Pencil in which Roz conducts a number of tests involving different brands of coloured pencils. Roz teaches students in journaling classes how to use coloured pencils. She comments on the response of different brands and you can see several examples of the tests she did
I found that the paper was resistant to blending and it was no fun to push the pencil around on this paper. I use light pressure and even with light pressure I found it difficult to cover change of direction of previous strokes, and in the areas that I worked for full coverage (negative space beneath the dog) pilling and slickness quickly appeared (something I don't like in my colored pencil drawings.) The paper had little ability to hold the light layers I like to use to build up my colored pencil drawings.
Stonehenge Paper: More Tests—Concluded in which Roz comments on the suitability of this paper for use in handmade art journals and comments on alternatives
if you want to work with heavy layers of gouache in a fairly dry-brush mode, Stonehenge is heavy enough and strong enough to stand up to that. Too much water and things take forever to dry. Too little coverage and you'll see splotches and pilling that may not please you...
I'm sure you will agree that Roz gave Stonehenge a thorough 'going over'. It's not her paper of choice for journaling however that doesn't mean to say it's not a jolly good paper when used for other purposes.

This blog is not dedicated to my own product reviews - it's about widening our collective knowledge of what's out there!

I'd be very interested to know about posts by anybody else who has been product testing. Do let me know if you think you've done posts on your blog which you think I might be interested in.


visioneerwindows said...

The thing is, 'it is a well loved paper' - if it is so, on what basis by so many of diverse users? as a pen/ink and colored pencil artist, am quite happy with the paper, which astonishes me at the complaints made by the few...

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Yes - but being well loved by some does not equate to it well loved by everybody.

The fact that you may like it for coloured pencils does not mean that everybody who uses coloured pencils will like it. I know coloured pencil artists who do not choose to use it and coloured pencil artists who will never use it again. Their views are also valuable. It means it's a paper which suits some people - but not everybody. I don't think Legion are under any illusions that it will suit everybody. Especially when it is being used outside the field it was designed for ie fine art printmaking.

The point of testing a paper is to identify what it can be used for and who is most likely to like it. Independent perspectives - particularly those given by artists who systematically test different art papers for different uses on a regular basis - are particularly valuable - which is why I highlighted these posts.

What Roz is doing is seeking an answer to a very specific question and she is testing the versatility of Stonehenge to that end - as she makes very clear in her posts.

What I'm trying to do is to broaden people's awareness of the range of views which exist - and the range of uses a paper is suitable for.

journalrat said...

Katherine, I appreciate you trying to get the word about the Stonehenge tests out, and the thoughtful way you have presented it.

I want to stress, as I did in my posts, that while it is a printmaking paper it is worthwhile running it through these paces to see what it does. And in the Paper Samples post which follows at the end of the week
I provide additional explanation as to why I test papers in this fashion and why it is extremely important for people to do so on their own from time to time.

This last reason hits at something visioneerwindows brought up—just because something is well loved doesn't mean it isn't going to change, and if people aren't testing new papers they aren't going to have something to go on to.

Paper manufacturers (and I have talked to many) will be the first to admit that even within batches there are differences with how a paper will handle, so it is always a good idea to keep aware on a very conscious level, of how your particular paper works. Are the slight differences you notice important, glitches, or changes from the norm into a new direction that might make it unsuitable for you to use.

I do not look at my reviews as "Complaints." My reviews state clearly what I did with the paper and how it worked for me—simply so that someone else who wants to work with the paper in the same way will have some sort of baseline.

I think that takes the guess work out of it for a lot of people. From a discussion I had this week I know that a young teacher read my comments about how I felt it would be a good printmaking paper and purchased a bunch for her high school students to use for that purpose—but she will not be using it to make journals with them (something she also does).

It saves a bit of frustration.

I love to test papers. Not everyone does. I know that many of my students take on papers I reject because they work differently. But my reviews allow them to know what to expect. What doesn't work with one artist will work spectacularly for another artist who works differently.

If my review is read in its entirely that is clearly seen—but more important, I hope that others will start testing the papers they use, or take for granted.

Just because a paper is labeled for a certain type of media or work doesn't mean artists won't find other things to do with that paper—and do well!

There's a lot of adventure to be had in working with a variety of papers and pushing them. And at the same time realizing that not everyone works with the same touch or seeks the same surface.

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