Tracing paper

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Self-portrait on tracing paper
MFA# 1999.589


Graphite on tracing paper
MFA# 21.10682

Thin, transparent or translucent sheets manufactured for tracing original drawings. Tracing paper was historically made highly processed Linen and Cotton fibers or chemical wood pulps with added drying oils and/or natural resins. More recently, tracing paper has been made from acetate, polyester or other types of Plastic. It is sold in rolls or pads. The smooth paper accepts Ink well but also is easily stained from extraneous materials. Tracing papers have also been used as supports and linings. Some tracing papers are sold as Vegetable parchment, Imitation parchment, and Vellum paper.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Traceolene; transparent paper; papier calque (Fr.); papier à calquer (Fr.); papier à décalquer (Fr.)

Resources and Citations

  • D.van der Reyden, C.Hofmann, M.Baker "Effects of Aging and Solvent Treatments on Some Properties of Contemporary Tracing Papers" JAIC 32:177-206, 1993. link
  • Amy Lubick: Tracing Paper Reference list
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 576
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989
  • The Dictionary of Paper, American Paper Institute, New York, Fourth Edition, 1980