Art journalers are a fickle bunch. We want it all—acid free, sized surface, suitable for scrubbing erasers, watercolor pencils, acrylics, pens, markers. We use them all. Bee Paper Company makes two spiral pads that are wonderful for all these media–and works well with pencil and charcoal, too.
I saw the Co-Mo pad (on the left) first, and liked the versatility of the 80-lb. paper. The one I purchased was 6 inches x 12 inches—a convenient horizontal format for watercolor. For me, it was a perfect size for both accordion journal folding, and in creating a small journal with gatefolds.
And then I saw the Super Deluxe Sketch Book in a 6-inch x 9-inch size with 93-lb paper. It’s a bit larger than I usually work, but the roomier size is comfortable and portable.
Bee Paper in Oregon sizes both sides of the sheet, which means that you can use watercolor on both sides without buckling. I like a rattly sheet, and this is just that—a crisp, white, rattly sheet with a mild tooth that helps hold color.
The issue of wire binding always comes up for art journalers. It’s true that the spiral is visually distracting if you want to use a full spread. The larger size sheet satisfies my art, though.
It’s also true that if you use paint and get it on the spiral, you’ll have trouble turning the pages. While the yellow pad is microperfed, the Sketch Book is not.
The cover is heavy enough to fold over and use as a support. I love that both sides of the 93-pound sheet is sized, which makes it bleed-proof. Copic alcohol markers and Sharpie permanent markers don’t bleed through as long as you don’t scrub them in or apply them too thickly. Fountain pen, Pitt pens and brushes, and watercolor pencils neither feather nor bleed. Because of the spiral, art journalers who love gluing in extra pages and collaging will have enough room to do so. I happen to like the look of a stuffed journal.
I’ve been using the paper for the heavy work of the illustrations for my book. While I do love Arches Text Wove, the paper is too soft for the scrubbing I’ve been doing, so I switched to the Bee Paper, and haven’t been disappointed.
On the page on the right, the watercolor pencils blended beautifully, the color is transparent and carries beyond the pencil marks and holds the color. The watercolor pencils here are Derwent Inktense, which are designed to be transparent watercolor pencils rather than opaque ones.
The brown streaks are Copic markers. They don’t blend well on this paper because of the sizing. I wouldn’t expect them to. But it’s easy enough to work on marker paper and attach it to a page, allowing for a depth of color.
The cover of the book is brown leather-like print. I will probably have to cover it or gesso over it and collage something onto the cover. I can’t help myself.
The book comes in five sizes, from 4 x 6 to 14 x 17, in prices from about $7.50 to about $32.00. Books are available from Dick Blick and Cheap Joe’s. In the Phoenix area, you can buy them at Arizona Art Supply.
FTC disclosure: I purchased all the Bee paper products in this review with my own money.
—Quinn McDonald is writing a book on raw-art journaling. She is a writer, life- and certified creativity coach. © Quinn McDonald, All rights reserved. 2010.