handprint : watercolor papers
Hayle Mill
The Hayle Mill in Kent, England was purchased by John Green in 1815, and the Green family produced papers there continuously until the mill closed in 1987. Papers manufactured at Hayle were used by English and continental watercolor artists from J.M.W. Turner on. — The mill continues to sell old paper stock and papermaking equipment, and a variety of old papers can still be obtained under the J. Green or Hayle Mill trademarks from stores that carry historical watercolor papers (such as NY Central Art Supply). For many contemporary artists, the remaindered and fragmentary stocks of Hayle Mill papers, often dog eared, torn, foxed and yellowed, remain the last genuine contact with the papermaking craft of many decades ago.
The J. Green & Sons RWS Watercolor paper was for many years the official paper of the Royal Watercolor Society. From 1895 to 1962, in response to continued market pressures on the quality of watercolor papers, the mill made papers furnished only of cotton rag, gelatin, alum, rosin and soap, and watermarked as the "official paper of the Royal Watercolor Society." — Sheets are mouldmade, 100% cotton, neutral pH, internally and tub sized with gelatin, air dried, with two natural deckle edges, and marketed under a wide range of watermarks (my samples have "Hayle Mill - 41" centered along one edge and "Hand Made" in an opposite corner). The rattle is loud but not too sharp; the paper burns to a blackish, brittle ash. The paper feels rather thin and warps easily when wet, but withstands extensive working and holds colors very well. The age of the sheets caused some foxing, warping or discoloration in individual pieces. — Price of a single 300 GSM full sheet, rough finish, is about US$7.00.

The Extra Rough finish is a coarsely marbled, assertive surface with a fat, rounded tooth and fairly regular wove texure; deckles consist of a slight crimping of the edges. Color is a dull warm white. The sizing is heavy and resisted the wash mixture on the first pass; once wetted, the ultramarine went on very smoothly without the least banding; pigment tended to collect in the crevaces, however, reducing pigment texture. The magenta showed no blossoming. Scrubbing left absolutely no marks; resists came off cleanly. The green lifted quickly and completely, with no visible change to the paper or repainted area. — The Rough finish is a mixed texture of wove and blanket, providing a stuccolike range of rounded tooth on each side; deckles are limited to a crimped curling of the edge. The color is a dull warm white. The sizing is heavy and seems to have picked up oil with age; washes skipped and beaded up on the first pass, and several strokes were required to wet and cover the surface, exhausting the brush quickly. Once wetted, washes went on smoothly with moderate flocculation in the ultramarine and slight blossoming in the magenta. Resists came off quickly with no surface damage; scrubbing left no marks whatever. The green lifted like chalk from a blackboard, with absolutely no visible change in the surface or repainted area.

(300gsm XR, R)


According to Sylvie Turner, the J. Green & Sons Crisbrook "has been and possibly still is one of the papers most sought-after by artists for both watercolour and printmaking." Papers are handmade, 100% cotton, neutral pH, internally and tub sized with gelatin, air dried, with two natural deckles, and marketed under different watermarks (my samples have "Hand Made" and "ENGLAND 1970" in opposite corners along one long edge). Ironically, Crisbrook was first produced at Hayle Mill in 1927 as a cheaper version of another paper, and production continued with several changes in the furnish, sizing and finish. The rattle is moderately loud and snappy; the paper burns to a near black, very brittle ash. The pulp texture in my samples is uneven and in some sheets becomes irregular or "curdles" within a few inches of the deckles. (These are clearly the last remaining sheets of the run.) Price of a single 300 GSM full sheet is about US$8.00, although these papers are now almost impossible to find on the retail market.

The Cold Pressed finish has a somewhat fine texture, with a stubbly, rounded tooth and an even wove pattern in all directions. The pulp is not evenly distributed in the sheets I acquired, clumping and thinning toward the long sides (caused by less than expert casting of the pulp). Color is a dull ivory white, one of the darkest sheets tested. The heavy sizing seems to have picked up oils over time; washes simply beaded up and would only take with repeated brushing; there was moderate flocculation and absolutely no cobalt banding in the wash strokes. The magenta brushed on unevenly but with no blossoming. Resists came off cleanly, and scrubbing left no visible marks. The green sponged off easily with no visible change in the paper or repainted area.

Please see the page how to test watercolor papers for an explanation of my paper evaluation methods.


Last revised 11.12.2007 • © 2007 Bruce MacEvoy

(300gsm CP)