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Are colored papers made with pigments better than colored papers made with dyes?
It depends on what you are looking for in a paper. If your main concern is fade resistance, pigments are a better choice. But, if you are looking for color and surface consistency and have environmental concerns, dyes are better than pigments.

Pigments are more expensive than dyes. It is also difficult to achieve color consistency when they are added to pulp during the paper making process. Pigment sheets often have different colors on each side of the paper and quarter-sized “couch marks” on the wire side of the paper. Pigment sheets can also be prone to excessive color rub off.

Strathmore® offers two lines of colored archival papers: 500 Series Charcoal and 500 Series Pure Paper Tints. They both use dyes.

What is paper "sizing?"Are animal products used as part of the sizing process?

Sizing is applied to paper in the papermaking process to make sheets less porous. Without sizing, paper would react to moisture like a blotter. The type and amount of sizing applied to paper varies with each type based on the desired working properties.

Drawing paper is sized for surface strength, helping protect the surface for erasing. Watercolor paper is sized to help produce a consistent wash as well as help the scrubbing and layering of colors. Strathmore Papers uses plant-based and synthetic sizing.

Drawing papers are acid free. Why is this?
Acid free papers are those with a neutral or basic pH (7.0 or slightly greater). Acidic papers break down more quickly than acid free papers, especially when exposed to light. If you are concerned about preserving your drawings be sure to look for papers that are acid free. Also, be sure to store your artwork in boxes or between boards that are acid free (such as our Museum Barrier Paper) and stay away from PVC plastics.

What is meant by "rag" paper?

Rag is a term used today to describe papers that contain cotton rags and linters. Rags come from the clippings used in the making of textiles and from the reprocessing of cotton garments. Linters are the by-product of the cotton gin process. They are shorter fibers that cling to the cotton seed after it is extracted by the cotton gin. This makes cotton rag a more environmentally-friendly option compared to tree-based papers.

There are also a number of other advantages to papers that are constructed of 100% cotton. First, cotton cellulose is up to 10 times stronger than wood cellulose. Cotton is also lignin free. Lignin that is left in tree-based papers will naturally turn yellow or brown over time.

Cotton paper has become the preference of many professional artists because of its purity, durability and permanence.

What is the difference between the smooth surface of Strathmore 400 series Bristol and the plate surface of Strathmore 500 series Bristol?

While both smooth and plate surfaces offer a finish suitable for smooth, fine line details, our plate surface is considered an "ultra-smooth" finish which is ideal for the professional illustrator. The surface is excellent for detailed work with pen and ink, technical pen, airbrush and markers.

The term "plate" comes from a process that is exclusive to the Strathmore® brand. The finish is created by hand – layering sheets of paper between special metal plates to create a "book." The book is sent to a specialized piece of equipment that compresses it creating a very consistent, ultra smooth surface like no other.

What's the safest way of storing fine art drawings?

Here are some general guidelines. Use acid and lignin-free paper, board or boxes for storage. Do not use PVC plastics. They are unstable and release damaging fumes. Do not store your art in damp areas such as the basement or by heaters. Avoid locations that experience extreme temperatures such as attics.

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