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Good rice/sumi paper
on 9 May 2014
I was a little apprehensive about buying this because rice paper (also called sumi paper) comes in a few different varieties, and the description on the Amazon website is very poor, so I was taking a bit of a punt. The two main things to think about when buying rice paper are weight and absorbency.
Just to explain, the last sumi paper I bought turned out be quite thick; it if you imagine photocopy paper is 80 grams per sq metre, the sumi paper I bought was about 120 grams per sq metre. Also it was highly absorbent - just below blotting paper. Absorbency is often referred to as "sizing" - absorbent papers are said to be "unsized", and less absorbent papers are "sized" or "semi-sized" - think of it a bit like "sealed" and "unsealed" with anti-absorption coating. For comparison, photocopy paper is sealed with an anti-absorption coating. Heavy, absorbent (unsized) sumi paper has its uses, but it requires a lot more skill than I have, so I started looking for something else.
So, this sumi paper...
Weight - probably about 10-20 grams per square metre - i.e, less than a quarter of the thickness of photocopy paper. It's what people often think of when they think of thin rice paper.
Absorbency - there's two sides. One is smooth, the other has a texture. The textured side is more absorbent and it is the side you should use in order to get the best artistry and texture out of confident, skilled brush strokes. The textured side is what I'd call "semi-sized" - not as absorbent as blotting paper type rice paper, just the right absorbency for good brush strokes. The smooth side produces entirely different results as it is much less absorbent. It is very interesting to work with and would be appropriate for more intricate work, or for less confident brush strokes. You might also like to bear in mind that because of the difference in absorbency you'll probably be using half as much ink if you work on the smooth side.