On my last trip to the art supply shop, I saw a packet of Fluid 100 watercolour paper, and since I’d never seen it before and it wasn’t too expensive, I decided to give it a try.
Fluid 100 paper is a 100% cotton paper manufactured by the HandBook Paper Co, who also make some pretty nice sketchbooks. The store I went to only had cold press 300gsm, but you can also get it in a super heavy 640gsm, with hot press available in both weights. Compared to other pads or packets with a similar number of sheets/similar dimensions, the paper was pretty cheap. Like many watercolour papers, it isn’t pure white, instead having a slightly creamy hue. The texture doesn’t seem to be as pronounced as other cold press papers, though it does at least have a natural, random pattern. Some student grade cold press papers have a more artificial pattern, which I’m not fond of.
Being a mid-weight paper, the Fluid 100 does buckle a bit when a wash is applied. This isn’t unusual for papers in the 300gsm range, but most other papers can withstand a small amount of water and keep their shape. Unfortunately the Fluid 100 began to curl up as soon as I put even a light wash on it. Taping the paper down reduced this slightly, but even then, the buckling was still more noticeable than other papers. I also found it more difficult to lift colour from this paper, as if the colours penetrated deeper into the paper fibre. This happened even with colours that aren’t usually staining, and scrubbing lightly at the paper with a brush produced some pilling on the surface. This was a little disappointing, and I probably wouldn’t use the paper for a big piece I was going to spend a lot of time on, but it’s quite nice to use just for sketches. As I mentioned above, the company who makes it also makes sketchbooks, so I suspect this is the same paper they use in those sketchbooks.
Here are some bookmarks I made for my overseas friends using the Fluid 100 watercolour paper.
Fluid 100 watercolour paper might not be as widely available as other watercolour papers, but if you can find it, it’s cheap enough to be worth giving it a try, especially if you’re a student painter. Just keep in mind that it isn’t as sturdy as most other watercolour paper, so some watercolour techniques may not work as well as you’d expect.