When I first purchased the press, I ordered a bunch of paper samples from different suppliers. I already had a few papers I liked, but I didn’t know how they’d print on my platen press. I have to admit, it was kind of exciting getting a couple hundred sheets of different paper in the mail.
Here’s the thing, if you look up paper for letterpress printing, there is a varied and confusing assortment of suggestions. However, there are three that seem to come up more than others; Lettra, Savoy, and Strathmore. These are all beautiful papers. Lettra seems to be the favorite for Letterpress right now, it takes and impression well and has a great feel to it.
Likewise, if you look up paper for linoleum block prints, suggestions abound. For use with letterpress, though, the list is somewhat smaller including: Rives BFK, Arches, and Stonehenge. Platen presses have a difficult time printing the large solid areas often found on linocuts, but paper choice can make a huge difference in the quality. I purchased all three papers to test and the Rives BFK took the impressions the best with my press (and, of course, it’s the most expensive).
And then there is the option I’ve already talked about: French Paper. I can go into a host of reasons that French Paper is an excellent choice, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll say this: besides a huge selection of colors and textures, the French line of papers have an ultra-smooth texture that takes an large image really well (for linocuts) and allows for a slight visual impression (for text).
At this point, I’m using French paper for my cards that use one color. For cards and images that use multiple colors, I’m using the Rives BFK. I like the other papers, but French Paper allows me to stay local and support a great company…and Rives BFK is just a solid choice for multi-color prints.