It is certainly no secret that handmade paper is in high demand right now – especially in the wedding industry. It seems to be starring in so many lovely blog features and posts lately, and it is easy to see why. Its beautiful lacy edges and sumptuous texture always look picture perfect. I love working with handmade paper; it is an unquestionably beautiful element to use to create heirloom wedding invitations and it can be surprisingly versatile in its uses and applications.
I wanted to share a few of the handmade papers that I use the most, what I like about each one, and how I use them.
One thing to note: with all handmade papers, there will be slight variations in size, and color, as well as how straight and how deckled the edges are. This is something that I think adds to the unique nature of handmade sheets, however, if you are a stationer, make sure that you are communicating this to your client so that she knows to expect this and will not be caught off guard with any inconsistencies within her invitation suites.
Here are a few of my favorite varieties of handmade paper, how I use each one, and my favorite sources for the pretty pages.
Arpa Handmade paper is classic and beautiful. It is made is Spain using the same techniques that they have used for hundreds of years. It is made from pure cotton and linen.
Arpa comes in several sizes and shades. Most of the shades are pastel colored, though they offer some darker envelopes. Some of the shades vary quite a bit from batch to batch – especially the grey and the blue, in my experience.
It is quite well suited for letterpress and foil stamping and I have used it for both printing methods with beautiful results. It prints decently on my in-house ink jet printer. I love the texture for calligraphy, although some pieces can be quite textured, the fibers almost never pick up with the nib.
Currently, the only place that I know to purchase it is through Orange Art. You need an account to get their wholesale pricing and they do have minimum orders, however these are easily met when ordering for a client project.
Important to note, many colors and sizes do get backordered and so if you are ordering for a client, make sure to give yourself at least one month lead time in order to make sure you will have everything that you need in hand in time.
I always call to see the inventory levels when ordering so I know what to expect and can make other plans if I cannot procure what I need in time. Their customer service is quite good from my experience.
A new favorite is the beautiful paper from Farmette Press. Loren and her team – many of whom are refugees – create their artisan paper with a seven step process from fiber to beater to botanical dyeing. They offer a wonderful selection of colors that are both subtle and rich at the same time. Their paper comes in three weights.
Farmette’s paper is luxurious and feels like a treasure in your hands. It is perfectly suited to letterpress printing, with its pillowy texture. The letters sink into the sumptuous surface of the paper and there is so much definition, which is not always as apparent in some other handmade options.
I have not attempted to run this paper through my digital printer, but that is really not what it is made for. I have done some calligraphy on the paper, and it is a little challenging due to its fibrous nature, however that is what makes it so beautiful.
A plus with Farmette is that they also are a letterpress shop and they do beautiful work with a fairly fast turnaround. Loren is a gem to work with and the heart behind her business is as lovely as the papers themselves.
Just one more note, their branding and presentation is impeccable – always a plus for me. I was blown away by their sample packet. I am a sucker for beautiful packaging.
Another favorite newer line of paper is Tara Spencer’s Idyll Paper. Tara can do no wrong in, my opinion, and her curated line of paper is no exception. The color options are the loveliest neutrals with just a hint of soft color and the texture is excellent for calligraphy and printing alike.
The paper is well suited for letterpress, foil stamping, and screen printing. I have also run this paper through my digital printer many times for styled projects and it has fared the best of the handmade papers that I have printed in-house.
ARTURO, ROSSI, & FABRIANO
Arturo, Rossi, & Fabriano papers are a slightly more reasonably priced and versatile option when looking at single sheet paper. They are mouldmade, giving each sheet a deckle edge. The edges are not as lacy as true handmade papers can be, but they are more versatile in that they can be digitally printed.
They are usually sold in boxes of 100, although sometimes you can find open stock at certain art stores. They are available in many different sizes and Arturo comes in several colorways as well.
Of the three lines, I have used Arturo the most and I especially love the texture of the envelopes for calligraphy. They also have a nice shape to the envelope flap, sort of a squared of euro flap.
A few other sources for handmade paper that are wonderful:
Signora et Mare – Smooth and delicate. Beautiful for printing and wonderful for calligraphy. Katie always has lovely subtle colors as well.
Share Studios – Amazing colors and quality to her small batch paper. I am itching to get some of her colors and try them out.
Silk & Willow – Delicate sheets with a nice texture. It prints quite well. The shade is more of a warm ivory than a white.
Fabulous Fancy Pants – Beautiful cotton rag paper in various thicknesses and Meredith is so supportive of the calligraphy and stationery community.
I hope that is helpful and informative. Are there any great makers that I did not mention that you love? Let me know. I always love finding new artists and trying new product.