Paper Pleasures Part 1

hand bound watercolour sketchbook pages

One of the best things about my job is the materials I use- I love their different tactile qualities and like to keep my designs simple to really show these off. Paper has to be the most inspirational of all, in all its variety, made by hand or machine, with wood pulp, cotton, linen or recycled textiles.

Most of my sketchbooks and notebooks are made using either drawing cartridge or watercolour paper, most importantly acid-free so they won't degrade over time. Fun fact: cartridge paper was originally used to make paper cartridge cases for firearms! Machine made from wood pulp, it makes a good surface for drawing and writing.

Watercolour paper is stronger and more absorbent, often with a slight texture. I use Bockingford which is made here in Somerset at St. Cuthbert's Mill, and has a lovely textured surface created by the woollen felts it's pressed on. I also use Saunders Waterford watercolour paper, made at the same mill from 100% cotton, which is one of the finest watercolour papers available. 

Saunders Waterford watercolour paper

Handmade paper is a joy to work with. It has four deckle edges, which are formed when the pulp is squeezed tight between the wooden frames of the mould and deckle. Khadi or cotton rag paper is traditionally made in southern India from recycled cloth, and has an uneven, rough surface with lots of character which is wonderful to draw and write on and takes wet media too. I often use this paper for the pages of my Handmade Paper Books.

Megan Stallworthy handmade petal paper book

Beautiful handmade paper is also made by the Two Rivers Paper Company, not far from my studio, at an ancient watermill in West Somerset. Made from cotton and linen rags, sometimes with inclusions of wildflower petals or seeds, each sheet is made using traditional techniques. My Petal Paper Mini Book and Petal Paper Notebook with Plackets and Coconut Button have covers made from Two Rivers paper and pages of Indian cotton rag paper.

Megan Stallworthy hand bound petal paper mini book

Another wonderful handmade paper I love to use is made in the Netherlands at the only surviving windmill powered paper mill in the world. Made from recycled textiles, this paper has a unique texture and strength which makes it perfect to use for the covers of limp (soft cover) bindings, like my Handmade Paper Notebook with Vellum Plackets and Coconut Button.
Megan Stallworthy handmade paper notebooks
There is so much more to say about paper! Look out for Paper Pleasures Part 2, where I'll be talking about some of the pattern papers I use and how they inspire me.
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