A Bold Paper With Bold Texture Makes for a Beautifully Unique Print

A Bold Paper With Bold Texture Makes for a Beautifully Unique Print

When you're looking to print something that can really stand out and be unique, you may be wanting something more than a traditional matte or glossy paper. That's where Moenkopi Washi Unryu 55 comes in with a gorgeous texture and feel for your fine art prints.

A few weeks ago, I was first introduced to Moab's Unryu 55 art paper and was intrigued but also dismissive. This is a paper that I've seen in the swatch books before, and it hadn't initially caught my eye. Or rather, it was a paper that I struggled to visualize my work on and thus was prematurely dismissive of. I was way off base with my wary attitude, as once I saw a test print on this paper, it caught my eye and came to life in ways that I never could have predicted. At this point, I have no problem admitting that the Unryu 55 art paper is definitely on my personal top five art paper's list.

The Unryu is a very thin and lightweight paper (the 55 being the grams per square meter; think of it as the thickness of a given sheet) with a very unique fibrous texture that is readily visible to the naked eye. Perfect when you have an image that could be enhanced by the natural texture of the paper; wildlife, for example, comes right to mind. In the images that you see here, it's the horses, the fabric of the wardrobe, and the blurred background that really light up with the fibers.

The texture is bold, so bold that it must be the primary consideration when choosing an image to print on these sheets. Each sheet is unique with a random formation of the fibers, so you can't very well predict where a given run of fibers will appear in the image. For this reason, there is some image content that may be gorgeous on this paper and other content that just wouldn't make sense. For example, the wider nature of these images (portrait orientation, shot full length) means I'm not too concerned about the fibers landing anywhere undesirable. However, a headshot or tightly framed beauty shot wouldn't make any sense. The bold visibility of the fibers would potentially distort the texture of the face in any number of unflattering ways (you wouldn't want a cluster of fibers giving the appearance of scars or running across the eyes).

The Unryu 55 paper is available in sheets and rolls, though the available sizes are understandably limited as this isn't a paper that you would necessarily be using for all of your prints. Additionally it's worth noting that this is a more expensive paper when compared to other options, as a ten sheet box of 13x19 comes in around $73.48 (which breaks down to about $7 and change per sheet). Given all the considerations, if you have the opportunity or curiosity to do so, this is a unique paper worth looking into. Looking at the long fiber texture, is there an image that you think would look particularly great on these sheets?

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4 Comments

David Pavlich's picture

Does this use the photo black or matte ink? How would you mount this? Would it be better mounted on something like birch plywood with an adhesive or would it be better with a mat and framed conventionally?

I do a lot of wildlife stuff, so I'm intrigued by this paper. I print on an Epson P800 and it seems this would work well with my printer.

Evan Kane's picture

Dye based pigment is what's recommended via Moab's website. As far as mounting, that's definitely a personal preference choice. I'm a sucker for the traditional matte + frame format but your idea to attach to a plywood piece is a solid choice too :)

Looks like a nice paper. I'd love to see it in my hands. We have such a lack of interesting paper here in Korea. One I've got that I really like is Hahnemuhle's William Turner. It's not for every print, but when you want a bit of texture, it's beautiful.

Evan Kane's picture

The William Turner is also a favorite of mine, it's on my list of paper's to write about. The texture is really superb :)