If You Spec It...They Will Make It
"My client has used this salmon colored writing paper for years now, but the mill discontinued it!" Janice was more than distressed when we met at a recent AIGA event in San Francisco. As a creative person her imagination was running wild trying to come up with a solution. She contemplated having a white sheet flooded front and back with just the right color...poor Janice.
So I am here to tell you what I told her: You can get your desired color (and weight, for that matter) custom made by the mill. Just for you. Just the way you (or your client) likes it. In fact, most mills have always offered this as an option, yet not many printers or designers that I’ve met seem to know it.
Naturally, this is not a quick turnaround, so you have to plan ahead—way ahead. The paper machines typically run 24/7 and the mill’s production schedule is tight—it has to be for the mill to stay busy and profitable. So it might take a few weeks till your specific color and/or weight can be made. But it IS an option.
As this is a custom order—which means the pulp, machines and schedules have to be adjusted—the mill will not go through all this hoopla to produce just 1,000 sheets for you.
Custom orders start at 10,000 lbs for a specific color, and smaller quantities if you want a special basis weight. A lot of paper—or not so much. It all depends if your client really loves a specific sheet and uses a lot of it. In which case it is definitely worth the effort.
And of course this effort takes some extra time: from two to four weeks at smaller mills such as French Paper, and up to six to eight weeks at Mohawk or Neenah.
Small is Flexible
French Paper has turned custom papermaking into an art form; the majority of their business now focuses on those custom orders. This involves everything from matching specific Pantone colors to enhancing a sheet with unique additives such as wood bits or shredded paper.
So keep this in mind next time one of your clients is in distress and you can save their life—well at least their sanity—by pulling just the right paper out of your printer’s hat.
p.s....Have you ever had a paper custom made for you? I’d love to hear from you and find out more about your experience.
Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.
Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.
Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge.