Moab Somerset Museum Rag: A Durable Cotton Inkjet Paper
Inkjet printmakers have nothing to complain about when it comes to paper choices. There are glossy, semigloss, and matte surface papers galore, each with their own charm and cachet. Regarding the latter aspect, Somerset is no slouch, having established a reputation in both inkjet and other art papers many years back.
Their latest entry into the inkjet market is Somerset Museum Rag, distributed by Moab. This 100 percent cotton, 300 gsm paper displays a smooth matte surface, a considerable, but not yellowish warm tone, and while strong and fairly thick, is actually quite supple. The paper is single-sided, which means the tooth is on one side only, and telling the printable from the backing side is not something that will be immediately apparent. For that reason the packaging comes with a stick-on label that says “printable THIS SIDE.” You would do well to keep the original cellophane packaging until you get a good feel for the surfaces. I found that if you rub your thumb along the surface the differences become clear, with the printable surface evoking somewhat of a higher pitch.
My chief interest in matte surface paper is black and white, although color is quite nice, I am sure. I printed a number of images with in-texture highlights and open shadows and the paper responded nicely. Because this is a somewhat thick paper it loads individually on most printers, as it did on my Epson Stylus Pro 3800. I downloaded the profile for the printer at www.moabpaper.com and loaded it into the profile folder on my Mac G5, and lo and behold when I went to do the print setup in Photoshop CS4 and did a Photoshop Manages Color choice, the Moab Somerset Museum Rag Epson 3800 profile was available. No secret codes, thankfully.
One thing that struck me on the prints was the nice gradation on the highlights and the open shadows. Of course this has a lot to do with how I processed the images, but the paper was amenable to that approach. I must say that the paper does not have the “snap” that is available with some of the exhibition papers we’ve seen of late, but if you are a fan of the matte look and feel then this paper will probably be quite satisfying to you. It is subtle, even tempered, and given the right subject and tonal interpretation will certainly enhance the visual experience. The paper color is slightly warm, but is not yellowish or tinged with colorants. Like most perceptions of warmth this one is relative. On its own it looks quite neutral; next to a bright white the warmth is apparent.
Somerset Museum Rag is available in 25-sheet boxes in sizes 8.5x11 through 17x22 and in 50-foot rolls in various standard widths, as well as a 60-inch wide. A full range of profiles as well as pricing information is available for various printers at: www.moabpaper.com.