First I have to give a disclaimer - this is by no means a post against handmade paper! I love handmade paper and am actually currently working behind the scenes on an exciting new venture that has to do with just that, so stay tuned.
There are so many handmade papers that I love, each with their own unique qualities and strengths. As a someone who is inspired by texture, I always enjoy getting to work with handmade pages.
All of that being said, however, handmade paper may not always be the right choice for each client and I wanted to talk about when and why there may be a better choice for certain projects.
It is certainly no secret that handmade paper is quite in demand right now – especially in the wedding industry. It is easy to see why. With its beautiful lacy edges and sumptuous texture that always looks picture perfect in all of the lovely features, who wouldn’t want such a beautiful element to be part of their wedding suite?
If you know my work at all, you know that I love handmade paper, for so many reasons – not the least of which is the care and time that went into crafting each sheet. Add in the delicate edges, and soft colors, and the sensation of the paper’s surface as you hold it in your hand. The paper is art in and of itself.
Despite its beauty and its many advantages however, handmade paper is not always the best choice for every project. Here are some reasons and situations in which choosing a high-quality cardstock may be a better decision.
As a stationer, I strive to evoke a mood as I design the couple's invitation suite. I want to make sure that the design choices that I make are all working together to communicate the feelings that are congruent with the bride and groom and their wedding. The paper that is chosen plays a vital part in the mood that is created.
If you are creating for a couple getting married at a vineyard or in a garden who want their wedding to feel warm and organic, then handmade paper is probably going to be a good fit. Those graceful edges have a lovely imperfection, while at the same time they convey a feeling of luxury.
If your couple is marrying at a contemporary art museum or a chic new hotel downtown and they like a modern, clean feel, then it is most likely not going to be the right choice. The crisp, straight edges of a cotton cardstock can be just as luxurious, but they evoke a completely different feeling.
Handmade paper is typically more costly than machine made papers, even very high-quality ones. The reason for this is in the very description of the paper itself – it is, in fact, made by hand. This means that each sheet was crafted by the hands of artisans who have likely spent years perfecting their process.
Many brides want handmade paper, but depending on the budget with which they are working, it may not be feasible. There are several ways that stationers can work with clients who want handmade paper but may not be able to afford it for the entire suite. We will save that subject for another blog post.
Handmade paper does beautifully with letterpress and foil stamping. It does not tend to do as well with digital printing. This is not to say that it cannot be done – there are many stationers who will print digitally on handmade paper and there are different types of handmade paper. That is also a subject for another post.
You will probably want to consider using a commercially made paper if you are working with a client, or are a bride who will need their suite to be printed digitally. Digital printing may be the best option for the following reasons:
Digital printing is less expensive than other methods. If the reason for needing to print digitally is due to budget constraints, there are wonderful cotton cardstocks that are smooth enough to do beautifully with digital printing and still have a lovely texture and feel.
Type of art to be printed
Watercolor artwork, or any other type of art that contains a gradient, will need to be printed digitally as letterpress and foil stamping can only do one solid color. Though there are a few types of handmade paper that can take this type of printing, most cannot and cardstock is almost always the best choice for showcasing this type of artwork at its best.
Who is printing
Again, there are many stationers who print on handmade paper in-house and that is wonderful. If you outsource your printing, as I do, you will be hard pressed to find a printer who will print digitally on most handmade papers. Most digital printing machines need straight edges in order to pull the pages through, or require you to sit and feed each sheet in one by one, which commercial printers will probably not be willing to do.
There are so many different types of paper – and each has its own set of features, and what it does best. You can see, in the situations described above, there are times when handmade paper is a wonderful choice for an invitation suite and situations in which it may not the best choice.
For brides, it is important to work with a knowledgeable stationer who knows all of the advantages and disadvantages of the different paper types and can guide you to the best choice.
For stationers, it is our job to be informed about all of the different aspects of the different paper types so that you are the expert will keep you from feeling overwhelmed with all of the details.