When it comes to a handmade fine art paper, this is one that absolutely does not mess around, and with the right image, it can stop a viewer dead in their tracks. In fact, it's so serious that this paper is sold by the individual sheet.
I adore seeing printed work, whether it's my own or the work of someone else, and as I explore different papers, I find myself being drawn to paper that both looks and feels unique. When it comes to choosing a paper for your prints, there are basically two schools of thought, the first being that the paper should be invisible. That is to say, that the paper's purpose is meant to house the work, to neither add nor detract from the image itself and to allow the image to stand completely on its own. The second line of thinking is that paper is meant to be a living extension of a given work, adding its own properties to the image in either subtle or drastic ways that emphasize the intended mood and reception of the image. I am without question of the second line of thinking.
The Moenkopi Washi Bizan 300 from Moab is a paper that does indeed look and feel as unique as its stats. This is a handmade sheet (yes, each sheet is handmade in Japan) comprised of mulberry and hemp fibers available in 300 gsm sheets complete with deckled edges. As each sheet retains the natural color of the fibers, this paper has a not particularly subtle, warm color tone to it, something to be aware of when selecting an image to print on it. While the warmth is not subtle, the texture is a mild one, pleasing to both the eye and to the touch. The sheets have a heft to them, and knowing that each one has been handmade is all the more impressive.
If you're wondering what the catch is, Moab isn't trying to pull the wool over your eyes and is upfront about the cost of this paper. Bizan is not inexpensive. I repeat, the Washi Bizan paper is not an inexpensive paper, and you need to know that going in. Directly from Moab's website, they clearly note the following: “This is an incredibly expensive handmade sheet. We only sell it in units of one sheet. It also prints softer than any of our other products and is best suited for applications which require a more ethereal look. Because of its weight and nature, we only recommend using this in professional grade printers capable of custom platen gap settings. It will require an investment in fine tuning the print quality.” What that means for you as a consumer is that this is not a paper that you run test prints on or that you use as you get your printer set up.
Essentially, if you decide to investigate the Bizan paper for yourself, take the time to select your image carefully and know what you're doing on the printing side of things (ICC profiles, color space, etc.). If you don't, make sure to reach out to someone who does so that you don't accidentally waste a single sheet of this paper, as a failed print might just break your heart. I would be as bummed as I've ever been if I accidentally wasted a single sheet of this paper. Has anyone out there printed on this paper before? I would love to hear your thoughts. Was it a personal print or was it for a gallery, for sale, or for a gift? Is this a paper that you would use in the future or one that you'd now consider trying?