|11/18/13 Still life P Q R. Platinum Carbon ink, Van Gogh watercolors, Canson XL 140 lb. paper|
The weather prediction of 100 percent chance of rain today became correct around 9 a.m. and has stayed correct all day, so it’s a good time for another still life in my alphabetical series – P Q R.
It’s also a good time to complete my review of Fabriano hot press, the signature of which I finished with the sketch of the Columbia Center on Saturday. Of the five 140-pound watercolor papers I’ve tested during the past few months – Strathmore 400 cold press, Canson Montval cold press, Canson XL cold press, Arches hot press (I couldn’t find loose sheets online) and Fabriano hot press – the Fabriano delivers the best overall combination of a smooth ink-drawing surface and sufficient but not excessive sizing for the way I paint. But when I compare it to Canson XL, my favorite of the cold-press papers, I don’t experience enough significant difference in the quality to justify the price, which is four times that of XL. So for now (at least until I come across another paper I want to try!), my sketchbook paper of choice is Canson XL, which provides the paper qualities I want for the best value. (Canson Montval runs a close second.)
And as long as I’m on the subject of cost. . . Although I’ve considered paper prices as I’ve tried them, I haven’t been paying much attention to the cost of my handbound sketchbooks compared to purchased sketchbooks because saving money is not a primary motivator for handbinding my books. But now that I’ve bound three books and I’m halfway to filling a fourth, I thought it was a good time to at least run the numbers. Although many less-expensive sketchbooks are available, Stillman & Birn Beta and Alpha were my sketchbooks of choice before I began handbinding, so it makes sense for me use them in my comparison. I preferred hardbound S & B books, but I couldn’t find them online to get prices. However, their price per page is comparable to the spiralbound versions. All prices are from Blick.com:
- Stillman & Birn 6” x 8” spiralbound Beta (180 pound paper) sketchbook:
- 25 sheets (50 pages) for $16.19
- Stillman & Birn 6” x 8”spiralbound Alpha (100 pound paper) sketchbook: 50 sheets (100 pages) for $16.19
- Canson XL (140 pound) 9” x 12” paper pad, 30 sheets (yielding 120 6” x 9” sketchbook pages) for $4.92
Unfortunately, there’s no S & B paper of weight comparable to the 140-pound Canson XL, so I’m not really comparing apples and apples. But for the sake of a blog argument, here are the results: An equivalent-sized (dimensions and page quantity) handbound book is about one-fourth the price of an S & B Alpha and one-eighth the price of an S & B Beta.
(Whew! That was way more math than I’ve done in years. I gotta go eat a piece of birthday cake to recover.)