What does sizing paper mean?

Sizing is an integral part of the paper-making process. Sizing is a liquid that coats the fibres of the paper.

Sizing paper helps to improve water-resistance whilst also allowing inks and pigments to sit on the surface of the fibres instead of being absorbed. This helps to create a more consistent and economical surface to print, paint and draw on.

ink blob bleeding through on paper
Sizing helps to prevent ink and pigments from bleeding into the paper fibres.

Sizing also affects abrasiveness, creasibility, finish, printabilitysmoothness and surface bond strength.

Surface sizes typically consist of vegetable starch (potato, rice or wheat) or gelatin (from bones or hides). Gelatin size can improve the strength and flexibility of paper. Here is a guide to making your own gelatin sizing.

Popular alternatives to Gelatin  for use in hand paper making are: Methylcellulose and Carboxymethylcellulose (CMC).

Here is a more detailed page on sizing paper which examines the two methods for sizing: internal and surface.

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