bockingford watercolor papper

Bockingford from St Cuthbert’s Mill is a relatively inexpensive alternative to the more expensive cotton paper. It is made of cellulose (wood) and is therefore not as durable as a cotton paper. Even if the paper is acid-free (the wood acids that cause it to turn yellow are washed away), it will fall apart after a couple of hundred years. It may not affect you that much, but think about your great- great-great-great-grandchildren’s need for art. A watercolor paper made of cellulose is not as fun to paint on as one made of cotton, you notice that it is a bit meager.

This paper is cheaper than its cotton rivals, so it’s worth mentioning. If we are to compare price with cotton paper, it is easiest to choose a paper from the same manufacturer. Saunders Waterford is a cotton paper, also made from St Cuthbert’s Mill, it is made of 100% cotton and it has a sizing. The cost of Saunders Waterford in the same thickness is almost twice as high as Bockingford. You have to pay for quality. One should therefore be aware that Bockingford is a fairly simple watercolor paper but which has an attractive price.

The paper is mold made, a mechanical manufacturing method that mimics the qualities of handmade paper. The manufacturing method is absolutely crucial for a good watercolor paper.

Bockingford has an attractive surface that is created using wool felt. The surface contributes to the quality of the paper, it is very comfortable. If you like granulating colors you will like Bockigford paper, the surface really highlights the properties of the colors. The pattern on the paper is natural and beautiful.

The three samples below are all painted with French ultramarine and the washing is done with five wet brush strokes and then soaking with kitchen paper. It is a way to test how well a watercolor paper allows the color to stick to the paper and what pattern the paper gives the color.

Nice surface and very little adhesion of the paint
Beautiful surface and it is relatively easy to lift the paint.
Saunders Waterford
Saunders Waterford
Slightly dull surface and the color sticks well to the paper.

Because the paper lacks surface sizing, the color also adheres less well to the surface. The lack of surface sizing means that you have to have a heavier sizing paper pulp, which results in a less absorbent paper. The paper does not absorb liquid so well. The paint collects on the paper surface and often forms small puddles that are also easy to wash off when dry. This is something that the manufacturer emphasizes as a quality but which I really dislike. If you like to lift paint from a painting, even from a dry surface, you will like the paper, it is very easy to lift paint with a damp brush, even if the paint is dry.

This property makes layering technique (Glazing) impossible, or at least very troublesome. When you are going to paint a new color layer on top of an already dry layer, the first color layer will dissolve and mix with the new one. This makes this traditional method of painting watercolor impossible.

The paper is also very sensitive. If you like working a lot with your watercolors: overpainting, a lot of rubbing and scraping then this paper is not for you. Bockingford does not tolerate such treatment, it breaks and tears. It is not even possible to use masking fluid, but the paper is roughened when you remove the dry masking fluid. It is also not possible to use masking tape to, for example, mask edges, the paper tears when you remove the tape.


A fairly cheap cellulose paper that is marketed as artist paper of the highest quality but which is actually a decent student grade paper that lacks many of the qualities a good watercolor paper should have. It has an attractive surface that emphasizes the character of the colors but does not absorb liquid very well, the colors are very easy to wash off, something that those who want to lift colors probably like, but which make glazing impossible. The paper is very sensitive and does not withstand any tougher treatment, not even masking fluid.

Name: Bockingford
Manufacturer: St Cuthbert’s Mill
Manufacturing method: mold made
Material: 100% cellulose, acid-free
Sizing: Internally sized
Surface: Natural wool felt structure, available as cold pressed, hot pressed and Rough
Thickness: 90lb 140lb 200lb 250lb
Color: White (Sheet only: Cream, Gray, Eggshell, Blue, Oatmeal)

Manufacturer’s website

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