That is how Hahnemühle describes its Bamboo Mixed Media paper. Suitable for all media, strong, age resistant and above all environmental friendly. The above description attracted my attention so I bought a pad, I tested the paper and here is my honest review.
The Hahnemühle Bamboo All Media ( or Mixed Media ) paper is available in various different pad sizes. For the purpose of this review I bought one that is 24×32 cm ( or 9,4×12.6 inches) at the price of 20 euros from the Hahnemühle’s importer and distributor in Athens.
As you can see on the cover of the pad this paper is made by 90% bamboo fibres and 10% cotton rag and it is acid free. No information is given about its sizing.
The paper sheets are attached on the top and bottom side of the pad and you can separate them easily with a regular kitchen knife. As I never paint on papers that are still attached on their pad, ( this is IMO a very bad practice that spoils the sizing of the paper that is underneath), I can’t tell you if the glue holds the papers in place when these are used with wet media.
The paper now has a quite heavy and steady for its 265gsm feel and has a natural white colour. In other words it has a slightly creamy colour, but not that dark in order to affect the contrast of your artworks.
The paper has also two differently surfaced sides.
One rather smooth Hot Pressed like side and one slightly rougher that it is looks to me like smooth Cold Press.
The pattern on both of these different surfaces is irregular; there isn’t any kind of the repeating machine pattern that some papers have, something that I personally like.
You can see below the different surfaces of the paper scanned and edited in order to be more visible. This is not of course the actual colour of the paper.
The smoother side of the paper is slightly bumpy pattern similar to that of the Torchon papers. But this is something that you can see only on the scans but not feel it on the paper itself
None of these two different surfaces is of the super sleek, plate or bristol like kind. So it is not the right paper for those who are looking for super sleek ultra smooth surfaces.
Let’s talk and see now how the different sides of the paper perform in different media. As in all other tests and paper reviews I tested this paper with art materials that already have and use frequently. As I don’t work with acrylics or pastel (( I don’t like the first and I’m allergic to the second) I can’t give information on how this paper performs with these media.
So I tested this paper with the following materials and techniques on both sides of the same sheet of paper.
- O,5 mechanical pencil
- Soft graphite stick ( smudging and erasing )
- Felt tip drawing marker
- Alcohol marker ( similar to sharpie)
- Gel pen
- Dip pen with India ink and India Ink washes
- Colour / watercolour pencils in dry and wet ( smudging and erasing too) The blue one is a Caran D’Ache prismacolor and the greenish one Faber Castel Albrecht Durer.
- Watercolours, in mixes, in layers ( glazing) and lifting after drying.
I didn’t have any masking fluid available in order to test the paper with it. ( the one I have dried in its bottle… )
Here is the different media test chart of the smoother side of the paper…
and below is the rougher one.
You can get both testing charts in HR .tiff file in a .zip file from HERE.
Both sides performed somewhat differently with the same application of the media that I used. The paper didn’t buckle on the wet washes but it raised a bit as many papers do, but it dried completely flat.
The paper though didn’t withstand well my attempts to lift watercolour on its smoother side, though I used a very soft brush in order to do so. Thought the colour lifted easily, the fibres of the paper looked a bit scratched after drying. ( check the HR files to see what I’m talking about).
The rougher side of the paper gave me the notion that is has a harder sizing but it was more difficult – as I expected- to erase graphite and colour pencils on this side. It withstood though without any scratching my attempts to lift watercolour. The rougher side performed also better on glazing.
Drawing with dip pen and drawing marker was easy on both sides. The pen moved smoothly on the surface of the paper without catching up on its surface. The ink remained where I draw it without feathering as you can see on the scans on both sides though I wasn’τ able to draw so accurately on the rougher side
Generally speaking it seems that the rougher side of the paper is meant to be its “good” one.
I painted two small watercolour paintings, one for every different side of the paper, with my usual painting technique that it is to paint in layers.
The paper performed nicely with watercolours but due its rather hard sizing it was a bit difficult to work it in multiple layers. . The lower layers lifted easily when I was trying to apply any washes above the already dried ones. I wouldn’t say that it made my life hard but it is not either the kind of paper that one can work in layers, wash after wash, without any care. The rougher side performed better than the smoother one while the smoother one piled slightly when I tried to remove some pencil lines.
Another thing that I noticed while I was painting on this paper is that it gave me the feel that I painted on a wood pulp paper as it felt somehow stiff. On the other hand though that makes sense by the time that bamboo fibres are not probably that long as the cotton ones.
I didn’t notice anything else other than that. The paper performed nicely on wet on wet and dry on wet techniques, it held the details and dried flat.
Let’s talk now about the major disadvantage of his paper that I consider to be its price.
I paid for this pad 20 euros that are quite a lot IMHO for a Mixed Media paper. The price was somewhat cheaper than the price that this pad is sold in this Stockholm store but the same with the price that this pad is sold at Hahnemuhle’s store in England. So it is not that I bought it locally more expensive than it is sold elsewhere.
As I’m favouring Mixed Media papers I can say with certainty and that this is one of the most expensive Mixed Media papers I ever bought, especially if I compare it with the price of the Strathmore 500 Mixed Media 100% cotton paper, that comes at the price of 59 euros per roll. ( that is 108cm hight and 10 meters length).
I understand that this is an unconventional sort of paper made by a not that ordinary kind of material, but then again… Bamboos are reeds and the kind of reeds that grow and expand aggressively fast.
So the cultivation of the material that is used for the manufacturing of this paper doesn’t justify its price unless it is the production methods that are used, those that sky rocketing the cost and the end price.
I would expect also from a paper of that price range to perform perfectly without the slightest of problems, something that didn’t happened in this case.
So in order to conclude and finish my review.
Hahnemühle Bamboo is a high quality but also quite expensive kind of Mixed Media paper that performs well on most of the most common drawing and painting techniques. It has some minor problems with its sizing but not that important in order to discourage your from buying and using it. I wouldn’t say that is the perfect Mixed Media paper for me, but as I have said elsewhere, what is not perfect for me, might be more than perfect for you.
So if you don’t have budget issues, give it a try.
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