WHAT THIS CATEGORY IS ABOUT
What we consider Classic Artwork paper, are paper types which we hand-selected after carefully asessing and comparing Chinese paper from various famous paper mills in China - most of which are based in Anhui province which is traditionally the home of fine Chinese shuen paper. The reason being that the main ingredient for Chinese Xuan paper - the bark of the Qing Tan tree has the best quality in this region. Experts attribute this to the fact that the minerals in the ground help the trees grow very well resulting in the bark of trees grown here having the best characteristics for high quality shuen paper.
Most Artwork papers come in large sheets. We often get requests from clients who would like to purchase Shuen paper that comes in rolls - however the Chinese rice paper sold in rolls is normally of inferior quality and actually not shuen paper at all but mostly cotton paper - which in China we refer to as Mian Paper (棉紙). The reason that in Western countries it is referred to as Cotton paper has to do with the fact that the edges of ripped paper fringe out and look comparable to cotton threads.
Also, premium Chinese artwork papers normally come in larger sheets wich a format larger than A3 which then can be cut by the means of a special wooden paper knife to the correct and desired size.
There are different ways to distinguish Chinese Shuen art paper, one being the absorbency level, often referred to as the processing state which has three levels - unprocessed or unsized paper, semi-processed or semi-sized paper and finally processed and sized paper. Unprocessed paper has a higher degree of absorbency but also bleeds more which requires more skills to master it.
The other one are the different layers of Chinese rice paper. As a rule of thumb, the more layers (also referred to as sheets) a paper has, the better the quality.
The most common paper specimen are one-sheet (single shuen), two-sheet (double shuen) and three-sheet (triple sheet) variations. A very rare kind is the four sheet Red Star Shuen paper from the mill with the same name in China's Anhui province which we carry in stock at times since it is quite difficult to get hold of originals.
In the end however the question of finding the right paper is a question of personal taste, experience and preference. There is no such thing as the perfect rice paper that fits every calligrapher or sumi painter - through trial and error everyone will find out which paper she or he feels most comfortable with.