Peter J. Blackburn gives a quick evaluation of an inexpensive art paper found at your local “big box” retailer!
A few weeks ago as I made a quick foray into my nearby Walmart, I chanced to wander by the rather quaint art supply section located across from the sewing notions. Stopping to take quick inventory of what the “big box” giant is peddling to our budding artists, I zeroed in on a most pleasant surprise—a stack of Daler Rowney “Simply” watercolour paper in 9 x 12 inch, 15 sheet pads.
Hey, you could do a lot worse.
I felt the texture of the 90lb cold press paper. It has a subtle, but distinct “waxy” feel. Hmm. Could this be an AKD paper? Alkyl ketene dimer (AKD) is a synthetic wax. My immediate thought was, “This feels like pay dirt for gum printing.” Two pads at a mere $3.98 each were promptly tossed into the cart.
When I arrived home, I separated the paper from one pad and soaked the sheets in warm water for about thirty minutes. The next day, without adding any size, I made gum prints. Lots of them. The first two are posted here. You be the judge.
DR Simply appears to be a repackaged American version of Daler Rowney Aquafine watercolor paper. I cannot find a US source for that particular branded paper. If I could, then other sizes and weights would be easily available.
At least three drawbacks prevent DR Simply paper from becoming my primary surface:
1. It only comes in cold press
2. It apparently is only available to the US market in a 9 x 12 inch size
3. It is made from 100% wood fiber
However, having reported those facts, I certainly will use DR Simply for preliminary and experimental work, for casual printing, and in demos. I believe this paper to be superior for gum/casein printing over other student grade paper currently offered including the Strathmore 300 and 400 series, Canson XL, Fabriano Studio, even perhaps Canson Montval (a confirmed AKD paper).
Wish that Fabriano Artistico were sized similar to Daler Rowney Simply. Are you listening Fabriano?