Product Type: ELC Art / Craft
Newest Review: ... surface and even with runnier paint doesn't get overly wet. Personally we usually use ELC finger paints, these sit well on the surface and... more
A Craftbox Essential
ELC A4 Activity Paper
Member Name: sandemp
ELC A4 Activity Paper
Advantages: Excellent quality, multi-use
Disadvantages: Not the cheapest.
Twenty month old Freddy and I go through a ridiculous amount of paper with our arts and crafts. When we first started doing artwork I bought cheap activity paper from Wilkinsons, but we found that this was a false economy, as the paper was so thin that paint soaked through and the paper couldn't hold much collage work. So when this paper ran out I decided to spend a little more on our next pack and took advantage of a 20% off offer at ELC, to buy a pack of 80 sheets of A4 activity paper for £2.40. Since buying this paper we've used it for various art projects including painting, chalking, collages and even paper chains and there's now no way that I'd buy any other activity paper.
Even before opening the package you can tell that this paper is of a superior quality, it just feels so much heavier than cheaper versions. Within the easy to reseal package there are 100 sheets of paper in five different shades (16 sheets per shade). Rather than being packed with each shade in a block of sheets, the paper is packaged in alternating shades. While this makes it easier to pull out one sheet per colour, it makes removing two or more sheets of the same shade a little difficult. I'm in two minds as to whether I like the way the paper is packaged or not. On one hand it was easy for me to get the different colour sheets I needed for making paper chains, but on the other hand it is a little stressful removing several sheets of the same colour. Talking about colour, the actual shades in the pack are a muted purple, pale green, beige, dirty yellow and faded hot pink. While I would have liked a blue the range of colours is pretty decent with just the right amount of depth, so that paint shows up well without the background being wishy-washy.
When working with the paper, the quality is instantly noticeable. The paper is not in the least bit flimsy and is almost thick enough to be considered card. But at the same time it is still just thin enough to be flexible enough for folding or rolling. If you remember using sugar paper at school, it's just slightly thicker than that was, and certainly better quality than the cheap paper I originally bought from Wilkinsons.
When used for painting the paper holds the colour well on the surface and even with runnier paint doesn't get overly wet. Personally we usually use ELC finger paints, these sit well on the surface and even with very enthusiastic finger painting the paper doesn't rip or tear. Unlike cheaper paper this paper doesn't seem to get saturated and I find that paint seems to dry quicker while using it (and it isn't as fragile when being moved from the work table to dry). Once dry the final paintings always look good and the paper is easy to display on the wall using blu-tack.
As well as painting, we've used this paper for chalking and crayoning. Chalk looks fantastic on this paper and the results are far more vivid than with cheaper paper. The chalk does still need fixing into place (hairspray) but the paper takes the colour very well and unlike the cheaper paper giving it a spray of hairspray to fix the chalk doesn't soak the paper. Crayoning was not quite as successful, the colours are just a little too deep for crayons to show up properly.
Where this paper has really come into it's own this year is for Christmas crafts. We've used it in a variety of ways and been pleased with all our results. The paper cuts well with sharp scissors, but children's scissors do struggle. The paper is just the right stiffness to make cutting out quite intricate patterns possible. I cut out various sized reindeer for our Christmas mural and found that it was easy to get a clean cut (unlike the cheaper paper). The paper also holds glue well, we use ELC washable glue and even with very enthusiastic application the paper doesn't fall apart. The paper can hold quite a lot of glitter too, we completely covered a cut out sleigh with glitter and the paper coped admirably.
This paper is also brilliant for so many other craft projects, we've used it for so many different things. I especially like that it can be printed on using my Epson printer, so I can print stencils and designs to cut out for craft work. We've used it to make stars to hang from the ceiling, little folded gift boxes, hanging snakes, collages and so much more. We even used it to make some home-made Christmas cards, and it did a brilliant job once I had cut it in half. I must say that it is probably thicker than many cheap, commercial cards and of course they are far more special. Another great use we've made of these, is paper chains for Christmas, although the paper isn't shiny we did still get great results and I think the paper chains have a really nostalgic look. Oh and eight sheets made enough chains to drape across the room, which means it was cheaper than ready to stick chains. Another use we've put the paper to is making "stained glass" decorations by cutting out simple designs and sandwiching tissue paper between them. Again this paper is the perfect thickness for this as it really is almost as stiff as card.
As you can tell from above, the ELC A4 activity paper is an absolute essential in our craft box, and one that we use in so many different ways. Yes there are cheaper versions of activity paper available but this is definitely a case where I would suggest spending a little more. The Wilkinsons' paper that I bought previously was 40p for 40 sheets, but the paper was flimsy, tore when wet and was simply not as versatile. At the standard price of £3 for 80 sheets, this paper may be three times as expensive but it's at least ten times better, so should I run out I will be buying again at this price. But what I would recommend is stocking up whenever the ELC runs their 20% off arts and crafts promotion, when this paper is a far more reasonable £2.40 for 100 sheets. As for stars out of five, I can't help but give this paper a full five out of five, as it is the best activity paper I've used and one that I would recommend to anyone looking to do arts and crafts with their child.
Summary: A definite case of worth paying extra for
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