Two Rivers watercolor paper

Two Rivers paper

A more than 400-year-old paper mill in Somerset, southern England, houses the relatively newly formed Two Rivers (1979). The paper mill uses hydropower and self-produced electricity to run the traditional production of fine paper in an old paper mill that has been subsequently renovated.

With only a handful of employees, they make handmade paper in the traditional way, using cotton and linen and Exmoor water. The production is small-scale and the product is unique.

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The paper is available in thicknesses of 300, 425, and 600/²m (140, 200, 300 lb), as well as the very thick “Tablets” which are approximately 1500 grams /²m (750 lb). The paper is only available with a surface that the manufacturer calls cold-pressed. The surface is created by manually pressing the newly formed paper between felts and then dipping it in a vat of gelatin to create the sizing. Afterward, the paper is hung to dry and allowed to air-dry in the attic.

Although they call the paper cold pressed, it is more similar to rough paper from other manufacturers. TR is even rougher than most rough papers from other manufacturers.

The bottom one is TR cold-pressed, and the upper paper is Arches rough grain.

The size of the paper is either Full Imperial (56×76 cm – 22×30 inches) or 40×50 cm, (16×20 inches) and Quarter Imperials (38×28 cm – 15×11 inches). There are also square papers in the size 40×40 cm (16×16 inches). The color is almost white, not completely, but with a faint grey-beige finish. Each paper is individually made with deckle edges, so no torn edges, but genuine deckle edges.

So, all the papers come with a deckle edge all around and have a surface so beautiful that you don’t need to paint on it; it’s a work of art in itself. The paper is extremely hard sized, both in the pulp and on the surface. This is another characteristic that makes the paper from Two Rivers unique. It also feels thicker than the equivalent thickness from other manufacturers.

The left part of the paper is untreated, while the right part is coated with water. Once the paper is completely dry, a layer of phthalo blue is washed over the entire surface. The difference is apparent.

The incredibly hard sized surface creates two properties, on the one hand the paint adheres rather insignificantly to the paper, it is quite easy to wash off dried paint.

The other property that the hard sized surface brings is that the colors become clear and distinct with high contrast, but the paper must be treated with water before this property appears.

Therefore, before applying color to the paper, you should moisten it by brushing it with water, preferably repeatedly, and then let it dry before painting on it.

Using a painting technique that I often advocate, applying generously with only one layer of color, Two Rivers yields fantastic results. Rich and high-contrast colors, very nice color surfaces where granulating and hard edge colors truly shine.

It is easy to wash off paint on TR paper.
The color is French ultramarine, the surface is beautiful

Wet-on-wet is also a painting technique that works exceptionally well on this paper. The colors flow controlled and evenly on a wet surface. Scumbling or dry brush painting also works very well.

The paper is also very durable, you can rub and scrape without the paper being damaged. Any type of masking also works very well.

Since the color doesn’t adhere as well to the incredibly hard-sized paper, layering paint repeatedly does not work as effectively. This is because dry paint can lift from the paper when applying new layers of color on top.

So is this amazing paper very expensive, and is it possible to buy outside the UK? Jacksonsart has the paper and they sell worldwide, the price for a sheet 76X56 cm (30×22 inches) cm 300 gr/²m (140 lb) is £13, in comparison the equivalent Arches costs £6.80. This means that, in this particular shop, TR costs about twice what Arches costs.

The paper can also be purchased directly from the manufacturer. In their shop there is a larger selection of different watercolor papers and other sizes than at Jackson’s or other shops. The price is for some reason slightly higher in the manufacturer’s own shop. But one striking thing about the price is that the price difference between the different thicknesses is not very large.

I think it’s amazing that a traditional hand-made paper only costs twice as much as a modern machine-made, mass-produced paper. But the price is sure to deter some potential buyers, and the paper is not what most inexperienced watercolorists would prefer anyway.

It has a vivid but uneven surface and the colors do not behave very well until the paper has been treated with water. TR paper highlights granulating and hard-edged colors, something I know a lot of people don’t like. But for me this paper is the ideal watercolor paper, I can’t recommend it enough.

Namn: Two Rivers Paper
Tillverkare: Two Rivers
Tillverkningsmetod: Handmade
Material: 100% cotton and linen
Sizing: Hard, both in the pulp and on the surface
Surface: Cold pressed
300, 425 and 600 gr/²m – 1400 gr/²m (Tablets)
140, 200 and 300 lb. – 750 lb (Tablets)
Color: White (Natural white)
as well as some other watercolor papers: Cream, Oatmeal, Sand, Green, Grey, Blue, Light Brown and some special papers:
“Girtin” Antique Cream
David Cox” Wove
“Turner” Laid
“David Cox” Wove

Jacksons Art:

A painting done on Two Rivers paper

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1 month ago

Thank you for your review! Your comment about pre-wetting the paper and allowing it dry is interesting. I’ll try it with other hand made papers that I have.

22 days ago

Thanks a lot for this review 😊. I have been searching for days and the few reviews I found were negative, but I’m stubborn because I really love the texture 😆.

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