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With two year old Freddy's love of art we go through an inordinate amount of paper in the Sandemp house. For basic drawing we use cheap printer paper, but when it comes to painting and sticking we prefer to use a better quality paper that doesn't go quite as soggy when exposed to paint or glue. There are many different brands of white paper available, but ours comes from the ELC and is their "Bits & Basics" White Paper that is supplied in a pad of sixty sheets, costing £1.50. Rather than paying full price for any of our art supplies, I wait until the ELC hold one of their regular half price Arts&Crafts events to stock up, meaning that each pad cost me a very reasonable 70p.
This A4 paper is a very bright white and a good weight, certainly far thicker than printer paper, meaning that it feels far more expensive than the 2.2p per sheet that it costs (or 1.1p/sheet I paid). Rather than the sheets being loose in a package, they are supplied in a pad which means that you can either pull each sheet free before use or use the pad as a sketch book keeping the sheets together. When removing the first sheet from the pad I do find that it tends to tear a little at the top if not enough care is taken, but there again I find this with most pads of this type. Once the top sheet is removed, the following sheets are much easier to remove and far less likely to tear.
We use this paper with a variety of different drawing and painting materials (most of which we also bought from the ELC) and find it works well with most (if not all of them). When using coloured pencils, the paper picks the colour up well and is far less likely to tear or puncture when attacked a little too vigorously with a sharp pencil tip, but I must say that we don't usually waste this paper for simple pencil drawings as the far cheaper printer paper is more than acceptable for this. Crayons similarly transfer their colour to this paper well, leaving vibrant drawings, but again cheap printer paper is more than up to the job of dealing with crayons. Where we do use this paper with pencils and crayons is when the resultant picture is going to be a gift, as the slightly thicker, brighter white paper simply looks nicer.
When painting at the table, this is the paper we will use, as it is thick enough to allow the paint to sit on the surface and not soak all the way through, even when Freddy is being very over-enthusiastic. We also use this paper for when using felt tips, and while the ink does soak through to a certain extent, it doesn't soak through so badly that it marks the table beneath or turn the paper into a soggy mess. Another craft material we use only with this paper is a set of ELC Easy Painters, these self-contained painters, work a little like a felt tip but are filled with a very runny paint that tends to soak straight through cheap paper, but work well with this paper.
When using PVA glue, this paper performs similarly to when painting, the glue does soak in a little, but the paper doesn't turn into a soggy mess and anything glued to it stays stuck (depending on the quality of the glue). Although this paper isn't the best for making rubbings (it's a little too thick, meaning more pressure is needed to get a pattern), it is great for doing a colour wash over a crayon picture. This involves drawing a picture with a crayon and then washing over it with very watered down poster paint and as you can imagine this means the paper gets very wet. I must say that even when soaking wet this particular paper holds together very well, we did try this activity once with printer paper and the paper ripped as soon as it was lifted to dry, but with this paper I can move it from the art table to drying area without worrying that it is going to fall apart.
Although considerably more expensive than simply using cheap printer paper for all arts & crafts activities, the ELC White Paper, is far superior when it comes to painting or using felt tips. We have bought and used many, many of these pads, with there always being at least two in the house ready for when Freddy wants to do messy art. There are countless sheets that have been decorated with drawings, paintings and collages on walls in both our house and those of relatives and you can really tell the difference from those pictures drawn/painted on cheaper paper. We're currently laminating all of Freddy's painting, to make table mats to give at gifts as Christmas, and there's no way I would use anything other than this paper, that manages to balance quality and price perfectly. So I'm giving the ELC White Paper five stars out of five and recommending it as a staple in any arts & craft box.
Stock up on A4 white paper to keep up with your child's creative output.Not suitable for children under 36 months due to small parts. Age range: From 3 years.