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Frequently asked questions

Our answers to some of your frequently asked questions about buying and using Strathmore® Artist Papers from us. If you can't find the answer to your question here please contact us and we'll do our best to help.




I purchased your 400 Series Watercolor Paper Block... how do I get the sheets off the block?

Removing Sheets from Watercolor Blocks

watercolor block

Watercolor paper blocks are glued on all four sides so there is no need to stretch the paper prior to painting. Here’s the process we recommend for removing sheets:

1.  Wait until paint is completely dry. Flip over the cover and look for the area where there is an unglued opening on the cover spine.
2.  Stand the block up with the opening located on the top.
3.  Insert an X-acto knife, butter knife or letter opener between the first and second sheets.
4.  Then gently run the knife around the edge of the sheet, rotating the block counter clockwise while moving the knife in the opposite direct.
5.  Continue splitting the glue until the sheet breaks away. Remove any remaining glue from the top sheet using your fingers.

Paper weight: lbs. vs grams

There are two systems in common use to measure the weight of art paper. The weight in lbs, used commonly in the USA, is the weight of 500 sheets of the "basis size" of a particular paper. Note that the basis size (the size of a basic sheet of paper) is not necessarily the same for different types of paper which makes comparison a little tricky. Grams per square metre (often indicated as gsm or g/m2 ) is used in Europe and is the weight of a square metre sheet of paper in grams. This is illustrated below.

gsm equivalents

Typical basis sizes are indicated in the table below ..

paper and basis size

Overseas delivery costs

We know Strathmore Artist Paper can be hard to find in many territories which is why we are happy to ship worldwide. For simplicity we operate fixed rate delivery charges regardless of the size of your order. Shipping rates are based on your delivery address.

Standard Shipping UK Mainland £2.50 + VAT (£3.00 inc VAT)

Next working day UK mainland (for orders placed before midday on the previous working day) £6.00 + VAT (£7.20 inc VAT)

EU except UK £8.50 + VAT (£10.20 inc VAT)

Rest of the World (non EU) £30 - subject to confirmation. When we receive your order we will confirm cost of delivery when we have a quote from our couriers.

Delivery charges will be added at checkout once you have entered your delivery address.

Are Strathmore products "Vegan"

This matter is very important to us and we make it a point to use plant-based and synthetic sizing in the manufacture of nearly all of our papers.

Our 500 Series Gemini Watercolor, which is made as a traditional “old world” 100% cotton sheet on a cylinder mould machine, is our only paper to use a sizing that is created with animal byproduct made from left over materials after food processing.  No animals are killed for the sole purpose of creating sizing for our papers.

With the exception of our Gemini Watercolor paper, all of our other papers are vegan friendly and only use plant-based and synthetic sizing.

What is the Strathmore history?

about mosesStrathmore Artist Papers is proud of our heritage and legacy of producing quality fine art papers. It began on March 17, 1892 when Horace A. Moses turned the first shovel of dirt for a new paper mill in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Called the Mittineague Paper Company, the mill began producing writing papers, bookkeeping papers and cotton-fiber artist papers in December of 1892.

In the mid-1890’s, Mr. Moses made a trip to the Strathmore Valley in Scotland and became inspired by its beauty and the blooming August thistles. By 1895 Mr. Moses began using the phrase “Strathmore Quality” and the thistle as a symbol of the highest quality papers. The symbol of the thistle has taken on different appearances throughout the years, but it continues to signify excellence in art papers.

By the late 1890’s, charcoal paper along with illustration and drawing boards displayed the Strathmore brand. The above ad appeared in the October 1900 issue of Architectural Illustration Magazine.

By 1905, the Strathmore artist portfolio of professional grade papers included Detailed Drawing Paper along with Illustrating and Patent Office Board.

This early advertisement from the 1930’s in the Art Materials Trade News entices retailers to keep their shelves stocked with Strathmore papers. In that same period, we also created the slogan, “Paper is Part of the Picture.” This slogan continue to be part of our communication pieces.

In the 1940’s through 1950’s, Strathmore ran a series of advertisements that featured “Prominent Artist Users of Strathmore.” Norman Rockwell was one of a number of wellknown artists featured during this period. His ad appeared in American Artist and Famous Artists Magazine in 1957.

The 1940’s and 1950’s also saw rapid growth with the introduction of many Alexis (now 400 Series) papers and a line of blank greeting cards. Greeting card and illustration contests have woven their way in and out of the fabric of our marketing programs since the 1940’s.

In the 1960’s, Strathmore ran a series of ads featuring college students explaining why they use Strathmore. This ad campaign was memorable. We still receive calls from artists or family members looking for copies of the ads or information about the individuals featured.

By the mid-1970’s, three quality levels of Strathmore® papers addressed the needs of student, recreational and professional artists.

In 1974, 300 Series is developed and Alexis becomes 400 Series. Our premium 100% cotton papers take on the title 500 Series.

Today the Strathmore® brand represents a complete line of artist quality papers for all media and every level of expertise. This 120th anniversary we celebrate the proud heritage of Strathmore, and our commitment to ensure that the legacy of quality, performance and longevity lives on.

Artist Paper usage guides

Choice of art paper is a critical component in your work so it's important to use the correct paper for the media in use and the task at hand, the following usage guides have been prepared to help you.

(These are pdf's which require Adobe Acrobat reader available free from here).

pdfStrathmore Fine Art Papers Guide

pdfStrathmore Dry and Wet Media Guide

How is my paper packed for shipping?

We don't fold or bend our products which are carefully packaged for shipping, see the following sequence of photos from our shipping department.

Should your item arrive having been damaged in transit please contact us and we will resolve appropriately.

1Artist Papers packing processArtist Papers packing processArtist Papers packing processArtist Papers packing processArtist Papers packing processArtist Papers packing process

What types of trees and wood fibre are used to make art paper?

Traditional art papers are made from either wood and/or cotton fibres. Wood fibers come from two basic types of trees: hardwood trees and softwood trees.

Hardwood trees produce short, dense fibres that deliver strength. Hardwood trees typically have leaves and include maple,elm, birch, aspen and poplar. Softwood trees produce long fluffy fibres necessary for bulk. These trees typically have needles versus leaves and include pine, spruce, cedar and fir. Most papers use a combination of fibres from hardwood and softwood trees. Since strength, especially surface strength, is an important attribute of fine art papers, our wood-pulp papers have high levels of fibres from hardwood trees. Wood fibres naturally contain lignin which is tree sap. If not removed, lignin deteriorates paper and turns it yellow and brown. Lignin is removed from the wood pulp of our papers prior to the paper making process. The wood pulp we use for our papers does not come from slow growth trees.

How do these boards differ from chipboard and matboard?

Although they can be used as a surface for finished works, chipboard and matboard are really meant for backing or mounting other works of art. They tend to be much heavier.

How do these boards differ from posterboard and tag board?

Posterboard is used for temporary signs and displays, and as a surface for children's work, but it is not a suitable medium for reproduction or for permanent works of art. It is less costly than bristol or illustration board, and is available in many colors. Tag board is a heavy paper that is equivalent to a lighter posterboard.

Do I need a bright white or coated surface?

Some illustration boards, especially hot press boards, have bright white or coated surfaces, for higher contrast. These surfaces can aid with scanning and reproduction, but their brightness is probably not helpful in viewing, displaying, and visualizing the work in progress, since it is likely to be reproduced onto a more conventional white surface.

Is the number of ply equivalent to the thickness of the board?

The thickness of bristol and illustration boards, for a given number of ply, are not equivalent. The thickness of a given number of ply for a given type of board, such as a 4-ply bristol or a 14-ply illustration board, differs slightly by the type or grade of board, and by the manufacturer.

How is the weight of a board stated or measured?

Both bristol and illustration boards are rated by the number of layers or "ply" of the board, however the two are not equivalent. Illustration board tends to be thicker and heavier, especially the professional quality boards, reflecting the handling that a finished illustration or mechanical may receive before it is finally approved and used for reproduction. The heaviest bristol, usually a 5-ply board, is roughly equivalent to a medium weight or 14-ply illustration board.

What is the difference between a plate and a vellum surface?

These terms are used with bristol board, but not illustration board. A plate surface is roughly equivalent to hot press, while a vellum surface is roughly equivalent to cold press. Bristol Smooth has a flat, smooth surface and is great for pen & ink, mechanical pencil, airbrush, and marker. Bristol Vellum has a medium surface with peaks and valleys, making it great for graphite, colored pencil, charcoal, pastel, and crayons.

What is the difference between a hot press and a cold press surface?

Hot press board is smoother, and is generally slightly more expensive for a given size and weight. Artists who work with airbrush, markers, or pen-and-ink often favor a hot press surface. Hot press boards produce sharper and finer lines. Graphic design applications also tend to favor a hot-press surface, especially when adhesive wax, adhesive film, rubber cement, or transfer lettering is used. Hot press board scans better. Sharper detail can be reproduced from its smooth surface.

Cold press paper (often referred to as NOT meaning "NOT Hot Pressed") is slightly textured, and is usually favoured when a brush is used, as for watercolor, gouache, acrylic, and tempera and is often considered easier to use.

Artists who work in a drawing media that requires some "tooth" to the surface, such as charcoal, crayon, or pastel, also tend to prefer cold press. Calligraphers and graphite and colored pencil artists choose either surface, depending on personal preference.

What is NOT surface paper

Cold Pressed paper is often referred to as NOT paper meaning it is "not hot pressed". The surface of a Not (Cold Pressed) paper has a moderate texture or tooth inbetween rough and hot pressed. It is made by taking a rough sheet and pressing it again without the felts. Not papers are generally considered the easiest to use and are popular with watercolourists.

What is the difference between bristol board and illustration board?

Bristol provides two working surfaces, front and back. Illustration board is only finished on one surface. Although the two can be used interchangeably in some applications. a bristol board is usually lighter in weight and is intended for longer term use and preservation. The better quality bristol boards are archival. An illustration board is intended as a surface for creating artwork that will be scanned or reproduced onto other media.

How do I decide which board to use?

Consider three factors. First of all, are you choosing a surface only for scanning or reproduction, or do you intend to save and display the artwork itself? Secondly, do you need a smooth surface or a more textured surface? Finally, what weight should the board that backs the surface be?


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