For Illustration, Painting, Drawing, Collage, Card Making, Art and Crafts
Strathmore Bristol Board is my favorite all-purpose paper for art and crafts. Whether I’m drawing, painting, making greeting cards, or creating collages, I keep a pad of Strathmore Bristol Board close at hand. Strathmore Bristol Board comes in a variety of weights and sizes, but the 300 series pads are the ones I use most often. These pads are affordable, and they are a fantastic value.
Strathmore Bristol board is a machine-finished paper board that does not have a coating on it. It comes in 2 different finishes: vellum and smooth (or “plate”). Unlike illustration board, which is typically one-sided, you can use both sides of Bristol board — which makes it ideal for comic book art or other book arts.
Available Sizes of Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board Paper:
Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Pads are available in the following sizes:
6″ x 6″
9″ x 12″
11″ x 14″
14″ x 17″
19″ x 24″
There are 20 sheets to a pad. If you need a larger size, sheet stock measuring 22.5″ x 28.5″ is also available. Strathmore also makes Bristol Artist Trading Cards and matching envelopes available. The artist trading cards measure 2.5″ x 3.5″.
Strathmore Bristol Board is acid free, and it can be used in projects that are intended to last for years. The paper is high quality.
Strathmore’s 300 Series Bristol Board is a 100 lb. paper. It is sturdy enough to withstand being painted, collaged, and embellished. Most cardstock paper feels wimpy compared to Strathmore Bristol Board. Cardstock will often buckle or warp if you attempt to collage with it or paint on it; Bristol Board is stronger, and can withstand more painting and collage.
Strathmore Bristol Board is available in 2 different finishes: smooth and vellum. The smooth finish is ideal for airbrushing and drawing with pencil, pen or ink. The smooth is my preferred surface for gouache painting, and for use with walnut inks. I’ve also used it with Lumiere metallic paints, 7Gypsies Colorwash, Dr. PH Martin’s Brilliant Concentrated Watercolors, and Lyra watercolor crayons.
The vellum finish is ideal for use with graphite, colored pencils, pastels, charcoal, conte crayons, and other dry media. It would probably work with other art supplies too, but I haven’t tested it as extensively as I’ve tested the smooth finish.
I first learned about Strathmore Bristol Board when I was a student at Otis School of Design. I was taking a class in fashion design, and most of the class assignments involved painting fashion illustrations with gouache paints. Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board was the surface that the instructor recommended, so I bought some. I was impressed with the product, and have been using it ever since.
Country of Origin:
Strathmore Bristol Board is Made in the USA.
Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board is the ideal all-purpose art and craft paper. It is versatile. It is affordable enough for art students, yet the quality is good enough for consistent use by professional artists. I am delighted to recommend this product to other artists and crafters.
Where to Buy Strathmore Paper Bristol Board Pads
There are bunches of places to buy Strathmore Bristol paper pads. The following online retailers typically stock them:
Project Ideas Using Strathmore Bristol Board:
- Use Bristol board as the base for collages where you need to be able to paint, glue and / or stamp lots of stuff onto the surface. This is a strong paper that can stand up to having tons of stuff layered on top of it. I do substantial amounts of collage art using Strathmore Bristol board as the base.
- Consider using Strathmore Bristol Board as the base for your handmade greeting cards.
The biggest downside to doing this is that this paper is white and you might want to use a different color. If I’m making a greeting card and I want it to have a colored front, I make the base out of Strathmore Bristol Board and then I attach colored cardstock to the front. But most of the time when I make handmade greeting cards, I just use the Strathmore Bristol Board as the base, and I paint the color I want on the front of the card.
I tend to make drippy painted cards with lots of collaged and stamped layers on top, so I need a paper that’s a lot heftier than cardstock. Your needs might vary; I’m aware that many card makers find cardstock totally sufficient for their crafting needs. However, I need the extra strength and bulk that Strathmore Bristol Board offers; this paper is a lot heftier than cardstock and can withstand having tons of stuff glued to it without buckling or warping.
- If you do spin art on paper, Strathmore Bristol Board is one of your best options for your base. I think you could also use a watercolor paper for this if you want a toothier surface. I haven’t tried this because I really like the smooth surface Strathmore Bristol Board provides. I do a lot of spin art; most of my spin art isn’t actually on paper unless I’m using the spin art to collage with. I usually use canvas or three-dimensional objects (bubble mailers, notebooks) as my surface for painting the spin art. But little spin paintings make super cool collage pieces, especially when you cut them into interesting shapes. For that purpose I typically reach for Strathmore Bristol Board, because it can withstand having lots of watery paint dribbled on it.
By Amy Solovay
About the Author: Amy Solovay is a freelance writer with a background in textile manufacturing. She holds a bachelor’s degree with a studio art minor; and she has also obtained a second degree in textile design.
This page was last updated on 8-9-2021.