Review: Strathmore Marker Paper

Strathmore Marker pad. Cover art by Katherine Cantrell.

Strathmore paper company came  out with a marker paper in 2010. Advertised as good for layout and graphic design and made with 100 percent cotton, the paper has a smooth, white finish and a great hand. Part of the 500 Series, the formal name is Strathmore Marker smooth surface.

The paper, according to the cover sheet,  is “100 percent cotton, acid free, semi- transparent, white smooth surface.” Because of its translucence and light weight,  I was doubtful that a marker wouldn’t bleed. There is a difference between bleed and bleedthrough. If a paper bleeds, it allows ink to spread on the surface.  If it leaks through to the other side of the paper, it’s bleed through. If it bleeds through and stains the next sheet, it is called epic fail.

Markers don’t bleed on this paper. I used both Pitt Pens and Copic markers to test the paper. Pitt Pens go down smooth and even, dry quickly and look great. Copic markers (alcohol-based) don’t dry quite as fast, allowing for blending and dragging color with the blender. The blending is seamless, smooth and has the finish that’s finer than watercolor, but not as velvet as colored pencil. The paper stands up to multiple layers of colors, even without waiting for the marker to dry. I prefer to give each layer some drying time, it adds to the depth of color and doesn’t muddy the final result.

I also tried colored pencil on the marker paper with wonderful results. Blending is smooth and easy. The paper doesn’t love a heavy hand or rubbing, but it works well with colored pencil. Colors are brilliant and clear.

Watercolor pencils don’t work well on this paper. I keep thinking of alcohol markers as wet media, but they really aren’t. I tried watercolor pencils, and when I wet the paper, it buckled. Once it was dry, it still showed stretch marks. But the color blending is beautiful.

If you are going to use this paper in a journal, you’ll want to tip the paper into your journal after you’ve worked it. Don’t use glue, it will show on the paper. Use tape–a decorative art tape is a great idea for this. I love to use washi-paper tape, also called kawaii tape. It’s repositionable and comes in so many colors, it’s an addiction on its own. You can find sources for the tape (and lots of colorful examples) at Kelly Kilmer’s site.

I love the Strathmore marker paper. I will admit to a strong bias for Strathmore; when I lived in New England, I would cadge visits and tours to the company near West Springfield, Mass.

FTC-required disclosure: I received the paper as a gift from a friend. No expectations of a review were expressed.

–Quinn McDonald is a raw-art journaler who uses markers, watercolor pencils, inks and Pitt Pens in her journals.