Paper is a huge topic and it's my main addiction. I've pulled this post together after many requests. This is a comprehensive post designed to take some of the mystery out of paper purchases. I hope it gives you confidence on purchasing paper for your bookbinding, art and craft projects.
I love watercolor! Over the years I've used Fabriano Artistico and currently use Arches watercolor paper. The Fabriano isn't as readily available as it used to be. I listed it over at Blick's because I have a special allegiance to it. It's top rate and I've taught and visited Fabriano, Italy and made paper using their Middle Ages era papermaking equipment. That said, my local art supplier carries Arches. Paper is everything in watercolor. So get the best.
Strathmore (Series 400) and Canson (XL 140#) are nice watercolor papers. Suitable for small projects and art journals. It won't take as much water and color as Arches but it's pretty darn good for the money. I prefer the texture of the Canson as it's more like Arches. Arches has almost a sandy texture. (Writing that just made me drool a little.)
Bristol paper is good for stamping and markers. The "vellum" is silky smooth. It would be another good choice for DIY Art Journals. You can use multiple types of papers in creating your own art journal. I make a note in pencil on the papers so that, when journaling, I know what I'm working with.
Stonehenge paper has been a favorite for years for binding art journals. It's a great weight (feels like a 100#).* It's very smooth and takes a ton of abuse. Again, not the best for watercolor but for everything else: excellent. It's a printmaking paper so it's meant to take a soaking in water. Great for Gelli Plate printing, bookbinding, stamping, stencils. Etc. And it comes in black and a few soft colors.
Arches Text Wove is a natural white (off white, not bright). I love it for painting paper for collage. It takes watercolor beautifully and it's light weight is perfect for collage.
The Canson XL Mix Media paper is very good too. A great choice for anything as mentioned above. It's great for acrylics, gelatos, markers, stamping, stenciling, printmaking. It's not good for watercolor and by now you realize that watercolor paper is what you use for watercolor. Period.
I added a few translucent papers at the end, including vellum (Ellen Hutson has a heavy weight 40# vellum linked below), tracing and deli wrap.
I really enjoyed making this video and hope that it's helpful to you. The world of paper is wide and difficult to navigate. This post/video is a travel guide.(I added a bit on Japanese paper at the end of the video. Oh what a wonderful world :)
Watch the video on Youtube here. Give me a thumbs up and subscribe while you're there!
Or stay put and watch here.
I'd love to hear requests for this series of My Favorite Art Supplies. I have a list going for bookbinding, stamp carving, pens & pencils, inks. I really hope to make this series valuable for you.
Here are a list of affiliate links. I've used DickBlick, Amazon, Joggles and Ellen Hutson. All of these shops have top notch service and competitive pricing. I've added Ellen Hutson to one of my favorite shops because I really respect their values and Julie Ebersole makes some of my favorite polymer stamps.
*Paper weight is based on the weight in pounds of 500 sheets of paper in its original size. That can be a bit confusing but hopefully the sound of the paper in the video will help. Do the "thunk" test the next time you are in an art or craft supply store. Feel the different papers and explore.
(Affiliate links, I get a commission on sales.)
Dick Blick has free shipping over $35. Thanks DB :)
Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans. And love to all of you!