Ilford Galerie Gold Mono Silk is an inkjet paper specifically optimised for black & white printing. The surface has been designed to be reminiscent of traditional ‘F-type’ darkroom prints, and has a long tonal range that ensures crisp whites and inky deep blacks. Ilford Galerie Gold Mono Silk is an acid free fibre based paper, 270gsm, with a semi gloss finish that is very close to full gloss. Compatible with dye and pigment inks, so really any modern inkjet printer, but ideally one with multiple black inks and a good black and white printing mode.
For really high impact black and whites you need a crisper white to really extend the tonal range and give maximum contrast to work with. And that’s what Ilford has done with this paper – they’ve created a really clean white finish – the L* brightness is 96 which isn’t exceptionally high but it’s the colouring that just gives it a really clean looking and neutral finish. Optical brighteners are used to achieve this whiteness of course (much like pretty much every traditional BW darkroom paper had OBAs in them!). And, unlike Galerie Gold Fibre Silk (it’s colour friendly sister paper) – the gloss differential is well controlled. And unlike Hahnemuhle’s efforts in this area, the paper curl in initial samples appears to be well controlled as well (I don’t know why but there’s something about the composition of crisp, white papers that causes paper curl!). So it’s got a great tonal range, pleasing classic fibre gloss surface, and good physical handling characteristics.
Put simply, I think that this is the sort of paper anybody really comfortable with black and white images will feel at home with – it’s just the right thing to create that classic mono experience with your shots.
Please note: Specifications are provided as a guide only.
We try very hard to keep these up to date and correct, but if a particular specification is really critical to you, then please double check the specification directly with the manufacturer. Some features may of course have caveats not fully described here.
To get more information about a particular specification, use the arrow to get a 'Specxplanation'.
Described simple, papers are constructed in two main ways:
Resin Coated papers are the 'modern' approach. These use less fibre and replace the fibre with resin (a nice name for plastic). This means these papers are relatively cheap, strong and robust, but tend to be less attractive to the touch, and accept less ink. They tend to have a clinical appearance and it's hard to write on the back of them. They tend to be popular in the consumer and wedding/portrait markets. Important to note: these papers are difficult or impossible to recycle because of their plastic content.
Fibre Based papers are traditional papers made without plastic, using only plant fibres. These tend to accept more ink and have a more attractive appearance, and these are the papers most of our customers favour. These papers are fully recyclable and we thus strongly recommend you use fibre based papers whenever possible.
What is the paper base made from?
Is this paper acid free?
Acid in paper leads to earlier yellowing and the paper will also become brittle more quickly. Thus for a paper to be archival, it needs to be acid free.
Papers which are not acid free are generally best used for proofing (test printing), and shorter term purposes. That is, they are not considered to be a fine art level product, or suitable for print sales into the art or professional photography markets.
This does not, of course, mean these papers will vanish or discolour overnight - they generally still have life-spans suitable for commercial work and above or on par with e.g. typical photo chemistry papers. They are thus suitable to markets like signage, or the decor market (e.g. print sales for kiddies bedrooms, for example) - but should be avoided if you're trying to sell your work as a serious art level product.
In general, papers made from cotton are naturally acid free, which is one reason they are often favoured. Other fibres, like Kozo, are also naturally acid free. High grade wood pulp papers can also be made to be acid free, however, if the lignin/acid is removed from the pulp.
These days almost all papers are microporous coated - meaning they'll accept inks from both dye based and pigment printers well.
In years past, some papers had a swellable coating - designed to give a greater life to prints with dye based inks but this approach has fallen out of favour.
In 'gsm' - grams per square metre.
Not, technically, the same as paper thickness, but obviously correlated. The heft of the paper. European art papers are traditionally generally around the 300gsm mark. Asian papers historically tended to be lighter, 100 to 200 gsm.
Papers with a higher GSM tend to have more opacity, i.e. you see less through them.
The thickness of the paper, as supplied by the manufacturer. Also known as Caliper (as calipers are used to measure this value).
Unit are in millimetres (e.g. 0.5mm, half a millimetre), or microns/μm = micrometre, or thousands of a millimetre. I.e. 500 microns (μm) = 0.5mm.
(Note in many ways this a much more relevant figure than the more often quoated gsm - as it is thickness of a paper, more than weight, which determines how easily a printer feeds a paper).
What is the surface texture of the paper?
We divide this into six groups. We go by the appearance of the actual paper and not what the manufacturer might label the box with!
What is the white tone of the paper?
Measurement of the white tone of the paper, as supplied by the manufacturer, with the measurement standard they have used (where given). It's really best used e.g. as a comparison figure against other papers, rather than an objective figure for any one paper.
The value is often given as a percentage (with an ISO standard), or more usually as an LAB value (with a measuring standard). If you want to understand LAB, then we have information in Chapter Two of our Fundamentals of Digital learning resource.
Important - this is an average figure and not a specific guarantee that any particular sheet you might measure will be exactly this figure.
Does the paper contain chemicals in it to brighten its appearance?
We're using the value/description the manufacturer supplies (see also the White Tone and White Value specs).
In many cases, only a small amount is used to even out batches of cotton, and then only in the paper base, not the coating - in these cases, it is generally agreed such use of OBAs is essentially insignificant and will not materially impair the archival life of the paper.
What ink type (dye and/or pigments) can you use with the paper?
Also, if using pigment inks and you have a choice, should you use the Matte Black or Photo Black ink?
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