It was a large box, I thought, for 500 sheets of paper. It was also the coolest box I’d ever received in the mail. Thus began my burgeoning love affair with the French Paper mill.
Paper, I’m finding, is complex. The quality of the prints I make is affected by the texture of the paper, the weight, the amount of sizing, etc. So, finding a few core types of paper to work with is essential. Until recently, I’ve been experimenting with a couple big names (Rives BFK, Lettra, Savoy, and a few others)…but one of my personal goals has been to use local products whenever possible.
Sitting along the St. Joseph River, in Niles, MI, French Paper has been producing paper in the same family for 6 generations (est. 1871). Better yet, they’ve been using their own hydro-electric power since 1922 and have a focus on using recycled materials…and they are producing a fine quality of unique paper. (http://www.frenchpaper.com/about-french)
The paper above is a nice off-white with little speckles in it (it’s called specklestone). It is a great paper to print with, but perhaps doesn’t appear all that unique (sorry, it’s what I have in stock). French Paper has an amazing array of colors and textures (for letterpress, typically the smoother, the better). It’s worth going to their website just to see the vibrant color selection. They also have a ton of paper lines with great names: Kraft-Tone, Construction, Dur-O-Tone, Glo-Tone, Muscletone, Parchtone, Pop-Tone, Speckletone, Mod-tone.
There’s a personality to French Paper that is enticing…and it’s hard for a paper company to have a personality (except, perhaps, Dunder Mifflin—and it was fictional. Oddly, in a bizarre twist of marketing, it became a real paper distribution company for a time). They also have a relationship with CSA for use of 30,000 free images (as long as you print them on French paper). It hard not to like this company: great paper, great colors, personality, local, and a small, family-run company.
There is but one drawback to French Paper, square flapped envelopes (I have yet to break this news to my wife). As I said in my previous post, I like them, but my marriage may not…
Only time will tell if my marriage will survive this…for now, let’s keep it our little secret.