What is a Watermark?

What is a Watermark?

Last week a bunch of JAM Paper Marketing employees went on a field trip to Mohawk’s Paper Mill. With a 2 hour drive in front of us, we wondered what the paper mill would look like, how many steps would it take to actually make a sheet of paper, what would be for lunch, etc. What we found was that nothing, nothing was like we thought (the food was amazing).

And yes, we found out a lot about paper that we never knew before. For instance, the amount of steps it takes to make paper are immeasurable. Side note: If you are a fan of paper whatsoever, we suggest taking a tour to a paper mill. It will make you appreciate paper and respect paper production so much more.

But you’re here for one answer and one answer only right? WHAT IS A WATERMARK?!?!?

What is a Watermark?

First some terminology:

Fibers: when you see the word fibers in this blog, I’m talking about the material that makes up most of the paper.

Pulp: pulp is basically the first step of making paper. These are thick, corrugated sheets that are derived from the wood of a tree.

Honestly, that’s really all you need to know. Just wanted to get you ready. Drum roll…

So after pulp, chemicals, corn starch, fibers, water, (sometimes) dye, and much more are all added together and smoothed out to (an almost there) HUGE roll of paper (really wish we were allowed to take pictures inside, but unfortunately we were not) comes THIS STEP: the watermark.

Fact: when fibers and water mix and are put against light, you are less likely to see through it.

Take a look: This is a black piece of paper without a watermark raised to a fluorescent light. Are you able to see much on the other side? Not really, right?

Hand holding black paper

The opposite goes for a piece of paper with a ‘watermark’. (We’ll get to that later.).

But first, how is a watermark even made?

During the rolling process of paper, there’s a step where you can either make a (literal) mark of water on the paper or leave it be. Some companies prefer to highlight their brand and if that’s the case, a watermark is usually made.

This is created by a unique water-coated metal roll of embossed designs (kind of like stamps). This is just one example of a watermark Mohawk created!

hallmark, door, sign
Picture a huge, and I mean gigantic, (yet light) steel roll that is covered with your specific logo (like Hallmark). When the paper combines with this roll, it comes out on the other side with ‘marks’ of your brand.

Picture a t-shirt: there are some spots that have a design; some that just have the color. (Go Mets!).

mets, noah syndergaard, ny mets

Same goes with paper. Some parts have a watermark; some parts of your paper are left pure white.

Basically what the stamp does is it leaves the water on the paper roll, pushing away the fibers. The designs are scattered so that some parts will contain both fibers and water (which are thicker and create a stronger hold – i.e. the color blue on the Mets t-shirt) and some parts that will contain only that ‘mark’ of ‘water’ (which are thinner and not as strong – i.e. the mets symbol, thor’s name, and his number).

Here’s a piece of paper:

white paper

Here’s that SAME piece of paper when raised to the light:

Watermarked white paper

What do you notice first? The Strathmore watermark right? In short, a watermark is a pattern/brand/logo on a piece of paper that is easily visible when put up to light. This is the ‘mark’ of ‘water’ the paper mill added specifically for you.

So- what is a Watermark? You tell us in the comments below! Preface your comment with “What is a Watermark?”

Any questions?

Author: Kristin Jane Smith

Digital Marketing Coordinator for JAM Paper & Envelope Marketing Team. AKA Lorde, Klorde, K-Star, K-Swiss, Tristan Croissant, and a bunch of other names at JAM. Don't ask, I don't even know.

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