Making Art

Using your own original ideas.

A bit of background information about paper, for paper art.

A bit of background info about paper.

There are many different types of paper [and card]. Its made from all sorts of things, including various types of plant fibre like: cotton, linen, mulberry, wood pulp and all of these items recycled. It can be bleached or unbleached. Machine made or handmade.

Its’ a pretty complicated topic but the upshot is better quality paper has long fibres, which mesh together to make the paper strong. Poor quality paper has very short broken fibres which cannot mesh together well and therefore are not strong.

Handmade papers have fibres which go in all directions which adds to the strength and machine-made papers [whether good or poor quality] which are generally made on a drum shaped thingummy have fibres which run in the same direction which is less strong. Have you ever noticed that if you try to tear cheap paper [like newspaper] it tears very well in one direction, going with the grain, tearing  in quite a straight line and tears into little annoying bits if you are tearing it the other way across the fibres? Worth knowing if you are tearing up paper for papier mache.

Paper comes in different sizes. While there are various systems for naming sizes of paper the one we mostly use is the A series [the ISO 216] is the one set by the ISO [ International Organization for Standardization ]. A normal piece of office paper is A4 210 by 297 millimetres (8.3 × 11.7 in). If you folded in in half it would be A5. In half again is A6 : about as big as a postcard. Going the other way double the size of A4 is A3. All the way up to A0. If you want lot more complicated info about this I suggest you wiki it.

Above: how the paper sizes relate to each other. Image from Wikipedia.

If I tell you I want you to buy a block of paper, it simply means a pad of paper.

Paper also comes in weights. The unit of measurement is GSM-grams per square metre. Again its a very complicated subject because there area lot of paper industry terms. But what you need to know in the arty farty world is a normal piece of office paper is about 80gsm. The thicker or heavier the paper  the bigger the number.

As a guide:

  • 80gsm office paper
  • 90-150gsm is still  floppy paper [cartridge paper is often about 110-125gsm]
  • 150gsm is getting pretty stiff and quite good for paper art [depending on what you are doing]
  • 150-200gsm still regarded as paper but getting pretty stiff and heavy but still easy to cut
  • 210gsm fairly stiff paper. A good weight for not wildly expensive watercolor paper.

Why do people always talk about acid free paper ? In paper made from trees especially, the lignum is acidic. In papers where this acid has not been neutralized, your paper will yellow and become brittle pretty quick. So if you want your artwork to last always buy acid free paper. It will say it on the cover if it is. If it isn’t  acid free they won’t mention it either way.

Paper also has different surfaces, for different purposes. It can be pressed smooth or with a grain, so when you are in the art shop think about whether you want grain showing up or not.  Either is suitable for paper art.

Basically you can make your paper art out of any paper or card you can find and I do often use old boxes and packing materials, but just bear in mind that recycled materials may discolour in time due to their acid content.

If you can, store your paper flat. Those drawers designed for storing paper are fab and can be sometimes found second hand. I don’t have room to store my paper flat and will sometimes store paper rolled up . If you do this just unroll it the day before you need it and weigh it down to remove the curl.


One comment on “A bit of background information about paper, for paper art.

  1. Pingback: Paper Art: techniques or cut and fold baby! « Making Art

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This entry was posted on November 29, 2012 by in Egging on.
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