A nice gum paper from an unexpected source!

Peter J. Blackburn gives a quick evaluation of an inexpensive art paper found at your local “big box” retailer!

Writer and photography / Peter J. Blackburn

Will wonders never cease?

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.

The first print was a tricolor of my daughter back when she was five. It printed easier than Fabriano!

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:

My second print. A single layer monochrome image using pigment by shaving a Caran d’Ache water-soluable wax crayon into the dichromate.

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?

Recommended reading - Learn more about Gum bichromates
Gum Printing: A Step-by-Step Manual, Highlighting Artists and Their Creative Practice

Gum Printing: A Step-by-Step Manual, Highlighting Artists and Their Creative Practice

by Christina Z Anderson

A step-by-step description of the gum printing process and showcases of artists’ works ranging from monochrome to colorful and from subtle to bold.

Technical Guide to Gum Printing by Calvin Grier
Buy directly from the author

Technical Guide to Gum Printing

by Calvin Grier

A 5-part series perfecting the gum bichromate process. For the advanced gum bichromtes artist.

Gum bichromate book

The Gum Bichromate Book: Non-silver Methods for Photographic Printmaking

by David Scopick

Step-by-step guide to gum bichromates.


...there is a good reason why artists choose not to support AlternativePhotography.com.

Not everyone can afford to donate right now. That’s why we choose to keep our learning resources open for everyone to enjoy. If this is you, please continue to learn, get inspired and connect for free. But if you can, then here are three good reasons to donate or becoming one of our supporting members today.
  • We want to keep our ur quality learning resource free, keep supporting inspiring artists’ work and run event connecting artists in the community.
  • We are independent, and don’t enforce paywalls or litter our website with sponsored content and paid posts. You can trust that anything we add is there because we think it's good.
  • It doesn’t cost much, and takes less time than it took to read this message.
Choose to support AlternativePhotography.com for years to come with a monthly subscription of 5 dollars a month, or a yearly subscription of 48 dollars a year, or any amount of your choice. It takes less than a minute to set up, and you can rest assured that you are making a big impact every month to help us. Thank you.

1 thought on “A nice gum paper from an unexpected source!”

  1. I am very happy for everybody who finds papers more cheaper than Fabriano, or others very expensive. I love gum, ciano, but I dont sell them, so I trie to look for others paper cheaper. Me english is not very good…

Leave a Comment