Back in the day, in the 1970s and 80s, computers were not ubiquitous. Designers needed ways to control colors and gradients in their artwork, without the aid of Adobe programs. This is where Pantone Paper came in. According to commenter Mike Shoaf on forgottenartsupplies.com “This was like a very expensive pre-historic version of vector art for us. Coupled with a #11 X-Acto, you could do cut-paper illustrations that would envy the Adobe Illustrator (and Aldus FreeHand) work a few years later.”
Merion Art has been selling art supplies since 1971, and we used to sell Pantone Papers as a matter of course. When computers rose to prominence, art stores (including us) were often left with a huge stock of Pantone papers: adhesive and non adhesive, coated, uncoated, solid color and graduated.
They are beautiful, useful, interesting, and historical, and we’d love to get some of these papers into the hands of an adoring public again. We are selling them at the unheard-of price of $1 per sheet (back in the 1980’s they would go for as much as $15 per sheet- that would be like $40 a sheet today!). Here are some suggestions for what to do with these awesome Pantone vintage papers.
Use them as colored paper-
Treat them the same as you would colored Canson Mi-Tientes or Fabriano paper- use pen and ink, charcoal, pastel, graphite and colored pencil on these saturated smooth sheets. Find unusual shades for an interesting background for your next dry media masterpiece. These papers would be great base layers for screen or block printing!
Use them like handmade paper-
You can use these Pantone Sheets just like beautiful handmade papers- fold them into origami, cover textbooks or binders in them, tear them up for decoupage. The vintage test-print text and images on top would be a cool addition to any mixed media piece. You can use them to wrap gifts, cover windows, or line bulletin boards.
Frame a few choice colors to create a low-cost wall installation with a lot of visual impact. Choose a smooth mid-century modern style frame to pay homage to the Pantone papers roots, or go nuts with ornate frames to contrast with the smooth color fields! Or choose a cheap frame and pair it with a wet erase marker for an instant colorful message-board: write right on the glass and wipe off with a damp cloth to clear.
Make your own stickers-
Some of these Pantone papers are adhesive backed. This means that each of those sheets is one big sticker. Some are even translucent or graduated (graduated meaning there is a gradient and the color gradually changes from clear to blue, for example). Cut them into whatever shape and size you need! Use them to personalize old furniture, create mixed media art pieces, create decals for all kinds of objects, or use them exactly as they were meant to be used, for old school design work.