Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sugar Cane Paper - EcoFriendly Fine Art Paper review

I got my Hahnemuhle Sugar Cane paper in the mail a few weeks ago! The company from which I bought it sent it in this GIANT box with about a million inflated plastic protection bubbles, and my husband commented that just in the packaging alone, I probably undid all the energy and resources I was trying to save by investing in an eco-friendly paper.
Sadly he's probably right :(

The official website is here:
And a quick overview of the product can be found here:

This is a new inkjet fine art paper. It's made from a by-product of sugar cane processing
(bagasse). 75% of the content consists of bagasse fibers, 25% consists of recycled content made from the company's paper trimmings. To produce the paper, Hahnemuhle is using renewable energy.

Hahnemuhle is also donating 5% of the sales from the paper to environmental protection projects!

Although sugar cane farming itself isn't very good for the environment in most cases (the usual: hacking down more and more natural habitats to grow the stuff, then dumping the fertilizer and pesticide chemicals into water sources, yuck), using a by-product to make a paper is still better than having to create a brand new source for it, which is why I chose this paper over a bamboo paper.

I was very impressed with the quality of the paper upon opening the box.

-It's quite thick! I've never used a fine art paper made specifically for inkjets, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It's 300 gsm: Metric for grams per square meter. I learned something new as I never really paid attention to paper weight before, I just bought what was recommended or what looked and felt nice or seemed appropriate for what I was doing with it!

-It has a texture to it, too, and again since I hadn't used that kind of paper in an inkjet before, I couldn't imagine the image would come out looking very nice- even though the paper IS specifically designed for use in inkjets. Boy was I wrong! Obviously the paper is meant to be used with inkjet printers but until you see for yourself how it looks, at least for me, it was hard to imagine a perfect image reproduced on paper with that much texture.

-It has a warm tone to it. If you tend to leave white space around your print, inserting it into a bright white mat may make the warm tone of the paper stand out- something to consider.
I do not usually leave white space around my images, but I do think sometimes that looks nice, so I will have to keep that in mind.

One concern I have is that I'm using an Epson printer and I always hear that Epson printers work best with Epson papers (go figure). I just hope that if I start using the bagasse paper on a regular basis as I plan to do right now, it won't have any weird long term effects on my printer.

I also have to admit that a couple of years ago when I first started researching making my own prints, I saw the
Hahnemuhle name (which at the time I had never even heard of) being dropped all over the web by the snootiest-sounding of artists. I remember reading paper reviews and forum discussions about different papers, and some artists would jump in and make snide comments about any other papers being discussed, saying they would ONLY use Hahnemuhle and everything else is just worthless garbage, etc. To be honest, talk like that sort of turned me off to it because a lot of artists recommending it sounded pretentious. I looked up this company-with-the-impossible-to-pronounce-name anyway, and I was in for a surprise! Their papers cost WAY more than anything I was considering using.

Fast forward to last month, when I researched eco-friendly archival quality art paper options. There they were... That fine art paper company from Germany with the long name that started with an 'H.' I was intrigued. I remembered all the things I had read before, but I decided to order some and see exactly what all the fuss is about. And now I know.
Turns out there's a reason people speak so highly of it. I'm not going to say HP or Epson or any other papers are crap though, because that's not me, but I will say that now that I've tried this paper and know it has a good name and great reputation, and will last a long time, I see it as a great investment for my prints and it would be hard to go back to anything else for my art prints!

1 comment:

Doris Sturm said...

Glad you found some quality paper. Sometimes you do get what you pay for ;-)

Same with my yarn. I found this great sock yarn (also from Germany) that's 75% Virgin wool and 25% Aloe fiber. It absorbs 4 times more than regular sock yarn, keeps you warm in the winter, cool in the summer, plus it has antifungal qualities so that it prevents athelete's foot...all that for $20 per 100 g (enough for one sock) so it would be $40 for 2 socks plus shipping and labor for knitting them...that must be a heck of a pair of socks!
Oh, the manufacturer is Zitron, a German company.