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Colored and graphite pencil websites and free drawing paper glossary section
Since 1892, Strathmore has designed papers
that are the preferred choice of professional artists, art teachers and
knowledgeable amateurs. Most Strathmore Artist Papers are made in their own
mills, where each run is tested by machine and by hand. It is hopee that this quick
reference guide and glossary will be useful in helping gain a better
understanding of common artist paper terms and the Strathmore product
Acid Free Paper -
Paper manufactured using alkaline papermaking technology. Acid free
papers are buffered with an alkaline reserve, such as calcium carbonate,
to neutralize acid compounds absorbed from the atmosphere or formed
through natural aging.
Archival Paper -
Paper manufactured to provide the ultimate resistance against
natural aging. The most important characteristics are: no groundwood or
unbleached pulp, a minimum pH of 7.5, and additional alkaline reserve of
Basis Size -
Sizes based on traditions/customs which represent the industry
standard for a specific paper grade. For example, the basis size of
watercolor paper is 22" x 30".
Basis Weight -
The weight in pounds of a ream (500 sheets) of paper in a given basis
size. Thus, a 140 lb. watercolor paper will be one in which a ream of
22" x 30" sheets actually weighs 140 pounds.
A term that has grown to be a catch-all for many different types of
paper. Essentially, Bond is a grade of writing or printing paper with
varying degrees of translucency, known for strength, durability and
permanence, while remaining comparatively light weight. Originally used in
the printing of corporate bond certificates. In the art field, it is
extensively used for general layout and visualizing purposes.
Artist Bristol generally describes drawing paper that is pasted.
Two or more sheets are pasted together to form 2-ply, 3-ply, etc. Sheets
are pasted into Bristol to achieve stiffness, strength and to form a sheet
with two identical useable (felt or top) sides.
A process that takes place at the end of the papermaking machine. The
paper is passed through a stack of steel rollers which gives it more
uniform thickness (caliper). By varying the number of rolls used, and the
pressure applied, degrees of smoothness can be achieved.
The thickness of a sheet of paper, expressed in thousandths of an
Cold Press -
A term used to describe the medium surface of certain textured paper
used for watercolor work.
Deckle Edge -
A decorative feathered edge produced during the papermaking process.
Felt Side -
The side of paper that does not contact the carrying wire while
traveling across the wet end of the papermaking machine. Also known as the
“top side,” it is considered the preferred working side of a sheet of
The formal name for a papermaking machine that forms a continuous web
of paper on a moving wire screen. The vast majority of paper manufactured
in this country is made on Fourdrinier machines.
A term to describe the mixture of fibrous materials (pulp), sizing,
fillers, dyes, other additives and water that eventually is processed into
paper. The consistency of prepared oatmeal, furnish is what is fed onto
the moving wire of a Fourdrinier paper machine or Cylinder machine.
- A unit of measure for the weight of paper in the metric system. It is
the weight of one square meter expressed in grams. A 140 lb. 22" x
30" watercolor paper is equivalent to 300 g/m2.
Grain Direction -
The direction in which the majority of fibers lie in a finished sheet
of paper corresponding to the direction the wire travels on a papermaking
machine. Handmade papers have no grain direction.
Hot Press -
Used primarily in describing watercolor papers with a very smooth
Laid Finish -
Describes a watermarked series of parallel, vertical and horizontal
impressed lines in a sheet.
- An organic substance which acts as a binder for cellulose fibers in wood
and certain plants, adding strength and stiffness to cell walls. Lignin is
undesirable in the production of fine, permanent papers because it reacts
with light and/or heat to produce henols (alcohols) and acids, which cause
deterioration and embrittlement of the paper.
Mould (Mold) Made -
Although originally describing a handmade process, today “mould
made” papers are produced on a Cylinder machine. Cylinder machines
differ from Fourdriniers only in the way the pulp is applied to the wire.
The property of a paper that minimizes or prevents the passage of
light through the sheet.
- This is a chemical term, defining the acid-alkaline range of any
substance. A lower pH indicates acidity, a higher figure shows an alkaline
condition. A pH reading of 7.0 indicates neutrality.
Plate Surface/High Surface -
For a special, uniformly smooth finish, sheets of paper are interleaved
with highly polished metal plates to make a stack, or “book.” The
“book” is then pressed repeatedly between steel rolls under great
pressure, imparting the smoothness of the metal plate to a paper’s
surface. Plate surface papers are ideal for pen and ink, airbrush, and
- A single thickness (sheet) of paper. Artists’ papers and mounting
boards, as well as other grades, are identified as 1-ply, 2-ply, etc. As
each ply is pasted together the increased thickness and stiffness is
described by the number of plies.
Post-Consumer Material -
Paper, paperboard and fibrous wastes from retail stores, office
buildings and homes after they have passed through their end‑usage
as consumer items.
Cellulose fiber material extracted by chemical or mechanical means
from wood, cotton or other organic or synthetic sources. Pulp provides the
fiber content in the furnish, which is used to form paper.
A term used to describe a coarse, textured paper. Often used by
artists when discussing the surface characteristics of watercolor paper.
Size (Sizing) -
Additive substances such as starch or animal glue which are applied
to the surface of the paper (surface sizing) and/or added to the furnish
(internal sizing). Sizing is applied to the paper to improve the drawing,
painting or printing qualities such as moisture hold out and paper
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