Moulin de Larroque
One of two paper mills operated by Georges Duchêne that are devoted to hand papermaking techniques. Founded in 1972, the mill is located in the village of Couze-Saint-Front (near Bergerac, east of Bordeaux, France), housed in a 13th century stone mill house over the Couze River. The Moulin de Larroque manufactures 120 kinds of paper for use by artists and bibliophiles.
The Larroque-Duchêne Aquarelle Album sheets are handmade, 100% cotton, neutral pH, internally and surface sized with gelatin, oven dried, with four 1/4" natural deckles, no watermark. The rattle is moderately loud and wooden; the papers burn to a medium dark gray, fibrous ash. Only available as single white sheets, rough finish, in three formats (9" x 13", 12" x 17", and 17" x 22"), 400 GSM weight only. Price of a single 400 GSM 12" x 17" sheet is about US$4.00.
The Rough sheets are a very bright white (the whitest of all sheets tested), with uneven deckles and an irregular rectangular shape (corners are somewhat rounded and opposite sides are occasionally not parallel, due to shrinkage during drying). The texture is assertive almost to the point of being dominating: the tooth is uneven and knobby, and sometimes gets less coarse within an inch or two of the long edges. Precise edges or thin lines are hard to do, and paint occasionally wicks through surface voids beyond the painted edge. The surface does not withstand hard use: it takes one or two washes well, but repeated washes or aggressive brushwork or lifting techniques quickly soften the surface, dislodging thin rolls of paper. Pigment texture is suppressed by the coarse finish, though slight banding did appear in the cobalt violet. The magenta went on smoothly with absolutely no blossoming, indicating heavy surface sizing, and in general blossoming is minimal. Resists could not be removed without peeling off thin sheets of paper, but scrubbing sluffed the surface and left very dark streaks under a wash and heavy wicking at the edges of repainted areas. The green could not be completely removed without digging well under the surface, and surface imperfections were fairly common, causing unexpected discolorations in a wash (which usually disappeared when the sheet dried).
Larroque also produces a Ficelle Linen sheet suitable for watercolor (internally and externally sized) in a single color (soft gray), finish (cold pressed), format (15" x 19"), and weight (250 GSM); a single sheet costs around US$7.20.
Please see the page how to test watercolor papers for an explanation of my paper evaluation methods.