My paper conundrum

If you’ve bought any of my kits or zines in the past, you’ll know that I use recycled paper for all my packaging and booklets.  To be honest, as well as the ecological sense of this, I just prefer the aesthetics of recycled papers – yes, even that grey-ish almost newsprint-like stuff.  Stark white paper just looks wrong to me.

So, back to the grey-ish, newsprint-like stuff.  For kit packaging and booklet covers I use brown kraft paper, but I always think this is a bit dark to print a whole bunch of text on – so the inners are always printed on the grey stuff.  Until now…!  I picked up what looked, to all intents & purposes, my usual ream of recycled paper, but as soon as I opened the package I could see it had been ‘upgraded’ to a much whiter finish.  I didn’t mind too much, at first.  I was still finishing up the old paper when I started printing Telaic Fantasy #3, and I actually quite liked the fact that (by accident rather than design) the first print run has a random mix off off-white & whiter pages.  I noticed the colour sections appear much brighter on the whiter pages (logic should have led me to expect this), and probably ‘truer’, too, so I reasoned that maybe the whiter paper wasn’t really so bad.

Onto the next project…  Having run out of my old batch of paper entirely, I started on the new.  I saw straight away that there seemed to be much more bleed-through of colour to the reverse of a page than with the greyer paper.  It’s the same weight (80gsm), but clearly a different density, or absorption rate, or something.  Anyway, I have printed some double-sided stuff, and am really not happy with how much of the next page’s text shows through.

So I investigated: Staples stocks 5 ranges of recycled paper, but they are all 80gsm, and all claiming bright whiteness.  I’m reasoning I need a heavier-weight paper to balance the bleed-through, so these are no good.  The place I use for the kraft paper stocks a wide range of recycled papers, but checking through a sample pack I ordered a while back, most of them are too thick (you can’t fit as many 120gsm pages folded into a booklet as a lighter paper).  One of them, at 110gsm felt sufficiently thin for successful folding, but had a lot of ‘inclusions’ in the surface.  I love the inclusions, but thought it was a bit of overkill for pages that will be predominantly text, may make things difficult to read, interfere with images etc.  They did do a couple of 100gsm papers, but unfortunately these were only 20-50% recycled.  Another source had nice papers, but were almost twice as expensive.  Hmm…

We used to use brightly coloured sugar paper for drawing and art projects at primary school.  I thought about seeing if I could use it for zines a while back, but could only find the bright stuff (it doesn’t tend to come in neutrals), or a very flimsy weight.  Finally, though, I have sourced an off-white, 100% recycled sugar paper, that is 100gsm weight.  Hurrah!  I will be ordering it today, and am going to keep everything crossed that my printer doesn’t object to printing on it (it can be a bit temperamental with textured surfaces, sometimes).  Watch this space…

In the meantime, I can’t afford not to continue printing on the whiter recycled paper I inadvertently bought :-(.  But if the sugar paper works, I will probably keep the white paper to use just for test runs & folding samples, instead.


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