An artist wrote to me yesterday asking “What paper do you use”. Well, I’ve been using Mellotex (formerly Ivorex) for almost all of my thirty professional years.
Artists often use a variety of papers. For example, the renowned Trompe l’Oeil artist J.D. Hillbery (www.jdhillbery.com) chooses his paper to suit the texture he’s trying to achieve. Other artists choose from a narrower selection of paper, such as Canson or Strathmore smooth Bristol board. Personally, I stick with one paper regardless of the work, adapting my techniques on Mellotex rather than changing papers.
Mellotex can stand an enormous amount of punishment and hardly ever suffers from raised fibres. It’s smooth enough to take graduated tone with 6H and has just enough tooth to accept 6B (which I hardly ever use – I prefer 2B as my softest grade). The surface is virtually texture-free, so it doesn’t interfere with what I’m trying to depict – in fact, papers that display their surface texture within a drawing are one of my pet hates!
Mellotex is a UK product, available in Australia under the “Lustre” brand name but not generally available elsewhere. Although Mellotex is now sold as an office paper, as well as card, it is archival quality. The manufacturers state “Mellotex conforms to ISO 9706 requirements for permanence and as such is suitable for archival use or applications requiring ‘acid-free’ paper”. It is primarily used by the printing industry, so visit your local commercial printer and ask for the name of their paper supplier (or ask them to order on your behalf). I found a commercial paper supplier in Leeds about 20 years ago and bought 100 A1 sheets of Ivorex, which lasted until about five years ago. Then I discovered that Ivorex was now Mellotex, and available in Super White (the off-white I was used to using) and Ultra White. Now I work exclusively on 290gsm Ultra White Mellotex and enjoy the greater range of contrasts that are available to me.
Because I have many overseas requests for Mellotex and my own supplier has a minimum order of 200 sheets, I now supply both Super and Ultra White from my website – SibleyFineArt.com/shop. I have a minimum order of just 5 sheets (although ordering 10 sheets saves you money per sheet) and I will ship worldwide.