The Papeterie de St. Armand (514-931-8338; 3700 rue St. Patrick, Montréal, Quebec H4E 1A2) was established in 1979 in Montréal to produce handmade papers "in the traditional style with a dash of modern technology." The staff make approximately 400 sheets a day under the guidance of founder and master papermaker Dave Carruthers. Both handmades and machinemades come from the same pulp stock; the mill uses cotton, flax, hemp, jute, linen rags, coffee bean bags, cotton T-shirts, denim pants, even recycled money.
The St. Armand Dominion Aquarelle papers are handmade, cotton rag with linen, acid free and pH neutral, air dried, internally and surface sized, with four natural deckle edges, and the "Papeterie de St. Armand" trademark embossed in the lower right corner. The rattle is subdued and rubbery; the papers burn to a wispy, very light gray ash. Single sheets come in white, the standard three textures (R, CP and HP) finished the same on both sides, in the imperial format and three nonstandard sizes (18" x 24", 30" x 40", and 36" x 48"), in weights of 300, 400, 600 and 900 GSM. Price of a single 400 GSM full sheet is $9.00.
The Cold Pressed finish is quite rough, approaching Esportatzione R for the coarseness of its wove texture. The surface is lumpy and uneven, with interesting variations along the deckle. The sheet is quite stiff for its weight; the surface irregularities relax only when the entire sheet is thoroughly wet, and the cockling in partially wetted or drying sheets can become quite pronounced. The color is a soft greenish gray. The sizing is good; the sheet took washes very evenly with no pigment texture or banding (even in the cobalt violet); the magenta showed no blossoming. Resists came off easily and cleanly; scrubbing left no marks whatever. The green did not lift completely and caused extensive wicking at the edges of repainted areas. Indeed, most paints, even earth pigments or cobalts, do not lift easily (even immediately after they have been applied), but this invites you to use a gradual buildup of loosely applied and diluted tints, which cumulate to an evocative, rough stucco or masonry effects in the color appearance and in the the surface finish revealed through the separation of wash pigments and everything is crisply visible against the cool whiteness of the sheet. The Hot Pressed finish is easily as coarse as the CP finish in any other sheet; the deckles are large, stiff and very ragged or curled. The color is again a light greenish gray. The paper behaves much like the CP finish, except that there was more pigment texture in washes (but without the cobalt violet banding), slight blossoming in the magenta, and increased wicking around the edges of repainted scrubbed areas. The surface of both sheets has a wonderful broad undulating rhythm, like the surface of a calm ocean, that contrasts with the much finer pattern of the tooth.
Please see the page how to test watercolor papers for an explanation of my paper evaluation methods.
St. ARMAND DOMINION AQUARELLE