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Ask an Expert - Forum > Best kind of paper for suminagashi

Although I mostly work with digital media, I lately started to experiment with the old art of suminagashi (japanese water marbling) and found it to be especially frustrating to find the right kind of paper. I often read that handmade/mould-made 100% cotton paper works best, so after a few basic tests I tried those and was utterly disappointed. The ones I tried so far are Hahnemühle mould-made Printmaking paper 300gsm and Garza Papel ProArt Inkjet paper 180gsm. They practically didn't react with the ink (Standardgraph Drawing Ink or Rohrer & Klingner Drawing Ink) at all when laid onto the water. Even after several minutes, almost all of the ink washed away after picking the paper up. Even the packaging paper worked better! Now I've heard that it has to do with the papers sizing and/or general ingredients, but it's almost impossible to get clear information for that in germany (where I live).
I hoped that you might be able to help me out.

Sidenote: Normal FineArt Inkjet papers (like from Fotospeed, Canson or Hahnemühle) worked best so far, but the point is that I want to understand WHY.
You can see a comparison here:

Thanks in advance,
June 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterThomas
Hi Thomas,

We really appreciate your patience, while we’ve been working on this! For Suminagashi, papers with surface sizing are key. Although we are familiar with marbling techniques from our own knowledge and from our artists, Suminagashi is one we don’t get asked about often. We do recommend a lightweight paper that does have some type of surface sizing. From our research, there’s no definitive paper that is strictly recommended for this technique. But, we found some similarities across different demonstrations online that range from fine art print making sheets that were 300 GSM to commodity lightweight construction paper, that yielded successful images after the printmaking process.

We will be sending you a variety of different sheets that range from lightweight handmade paper to 250 GSM paper. Based off the papers we carry, we are going to provide you nine different product 8.5x11 sample sheets to test out. The best thing to do is to buy a variety of papers from multiple manufacturers and test out each of its capabilities for your technique specifically. Although you were looking for a scientific reasoning, we strongly feel the trial and error approach will be most beneficial.

We’ll be sending you the following products:
• Masa
• Mulberry
• Entrada Rag Natural 190
• Stonehenge & Stonehenge Light Weight
• Stonehenge Aqua 140 CP & HP
• Zerkall Ingres
• Zerkall Book- Wove Vellum 100 and Wove Smooth 100

After you test them out, please let us know what your findings are. We are both curious and excited! In the future, we’ll be able to provide recommendations for other artists who are looking for the same answers.

We look forward to hearing from you!
July 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLegion Paper
I was looking for deep color, sharp lines (=no blurring/bleeding) and if the paper has texture it shouldn't be too distracting. That said, most of the papers had mediocre results with the exception of Masa and especially the Moab Entrada Rag, which performed extremely well!

Other papers or media, that also worked well:
- Canson Infinity Edition Etching 310gsm
- Canson Infinity Rag Photographique Duo 220gsm
January 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterThomas
I have been experimenting with suminagashi lately and have come to believe that fine art papers (like cotton watercolour papers etc) do not work exactly because of the sizing that is there exactly to give you some time when you work before the paint binds or sinks into the paper.
You will have best results with cheap sketching papers (but not clear lines) and photographic glossy inkjet papers. The latter have a coating that sets the inks almost instantaneously in order to avoid smudging in the printer, which is exactly what you are looking for in suminagashi as well
hope I helped.
February 11, 2019 | Unregistered Commenteralmost.lucid
Unsized papers actually work best. Both Zerkall copperplate and Arches 88 work well. When I first experimented with the technique about 25 years ago Stonehenge worked, but my recent experiments with it were total failures. I wonder if the sizing is different now. Lotka is working well as is some sumi paper that a Japanese friend gave me (although this is very fine and tricky to lift out). I'm still experimenting with other Japanese papers. Hosho was better than mulberry. The ink also makes a difference as does the water itself.
February 27, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
I've had excellent Suminigashi results using Daler Rowney "Simply" Sketchbook paper (Acid Free, 65lb / 100gsm) The lines are bright and crisp, and the paper absorbs the ink immediately and holds up to rinsing and moving. I discovered this paper when I was teaching Suminigashi at my daughter's elementary school and realized that the other papers I had been experimenting would be too delicate (and expensive) for the 8-12 year-olds during a 1 hour workshop. I went through all of the outrageous quantity of paper in the house and one of my daughter's sketchbooks was perfect.
May 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAmelia
To create excellent images of suminagashi, one must first learn the technique. Proper tools, inks and paper are of utmost importance. I am a retired paper marbler with over 30 years of experience. For suminagashi, I've used student grade Hosho, Kinwashi, Kitakata, Torinoko, Unryu and many fine handmade Japanese papers sold through Aiko's in Chicago (now closed). One of my papers with suminagashi background has been circulating on the internet for years: Sumi Tree. I suggest purchasing The Ultimate Marbling Handbook by Diane Maurer-Mathison. She devotes numerous pages to suminagashi marbling and materials needed as well as HOW TO instruction.
September 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMilena