From PaperSpecs:

The Score: Bamboo Paper 1, Landfill 0

As designers, we are always looking for new and unique ways of expressing ourselves, whether it’s in the form of a thank you letter, wedding invitation, annual report or product packaging.

The challenge is to find something that is not only different, but is at the forefront of a trend. It was about this time last year that the folks at Legion Paper were posed with such a challenge by their customers: “We want a deluxe paper that is eco-friendly, but speck-free; natural, but luxurious; accepts all forms of printing, and while you’re at it throw in a complete line of matching envelopes.” The result was Legion Bamboo, and there’s nothing else like this on the market.

The Case for Bamboo
To hit all the requirements, the paper was created from 90 percent bamboo and 10 percent cotton – two tree-free fibers. Why the blend? Bamboo is a pretty hard fiber. “The cotton not only softens the paper, but gives it more strength and durability,” says Michael Ginsburg, president, Legion Paper. “A beautiful, supple feel to a paper is extremely important. It conveys elegance, luxury and thoughtfulness.”

Bamboo is recognized as the fastest growing plant on earth, sprouting up about three feet per day, without the need for pesticides or much water. Bamboo fibers are much longer and stronger than wood, making the paper durable for all printing and converting processes.

Cotton is possibly the ultimate tree-free fiber. The cotton used to manufacture the paper is not from the puffy white flower that we all recognize as cotton, but rather the linters, a byproduct of the textile industry that would otherwise end up in the trash. By using this recovered material, the score becomes Paper: 1, Landfill: 0.

A Clean Shade of Green

“People often think of a recycled or eco-friendly paper as having noticeable fibers and specks,” added Ginsburg. “And they’re often right.” In many cases, this is a required element to enhance the design, but more times than not, a truly speck-free, clean paper is needed to produce the best printing results.

Legion Bamboo is an entirely clean sheet, having no blemishes or spots, while still maintaining the look of a natural product without additives. The paper is elemental chlorine-free (ECF), has no optical brighteners, pH neutral and completely archival. It’s the natural off-white, or pearl-white, color that provides the paper’s warm and earthy feeling.

Hat Trick
Versatility is key. That’s why Legion Bamboo is offered in three weights. The 70 lb. (105gsm) text paper is a gorgeous lightweight text sheet for stationery, books, posters, broadsides and inserts.

The 100 lb. (265gsm) cover is ideal for invitations and announcements. And the 200 lb. (530gsm) duplex sheet takes a beautifully deep impression and is very sturdy. Couple that with engraving, embossing or letterpress, and you’ll have a printed piece with lots of dimension.

Send It 
No paper family is complete without matching envelopes. Legion’s clients – and their clients’ clients – wanted a full range of envelopes to cater to the invitation and announcement designers as well as the corporate market.

The family begins with the 4-Bar/20 Wallet and extends to the A7 inner/outer with 11 choices overall. “We paid close attention to the flap of the envelope,” explains Jonathan Dorfman, who designed the line of Legion Bamboo envelopes. “Because the goal of the line is versatility, we decided to offer two styles of flaps: a squared-off version and a unique, elongated ‘Euro’ flap style.” The envelopes are made from the 105gsm text weight paper, enabling a perfect match in both color and feel.

Stories from a Letterpress Printer
“We loved the fact that Bamboo is offered in a heavyweight 530gsm,” says Bruno Rohner of Rohner Letterpress. “The surface texture is beautiful, and the tactile qualities feel as if there is more cotton in there than there really is. Plus it’s a sustainable resource, which our customers are really looking for.”

“We tried the paper as soon as it became available and did a side-by-side comparison test next to other well-known letterpress papers, and the sheet performs really well. The bamboo paper is soft and really takes a deep impression without having to smack it hard. The colors hold well even with deep solid colors. Overall, you can’t find a better letterpress paper for the money.”

Print it Any Way You Want
“The new Legion Bamboo is as versatile as any commercial paper we use,” says Jeffrey Van Zandt, VP sales,Precise Continental. “We’ve foiled on it, printed offset and engraved, all with flawless results. In particular, I was really impressed with the engraving we did because the engraved letters and designs printed perfectly sharp and clean, giving a beautiful dimensional quality against the unique soft texture of the surface. Our customers are constantly asking us for new eco-friendly papers, and the Legion Bamboo allows us to be conscious of the environment without being afraid to give up any print quality.”

bamboo2Many of us have been conditioned to look for an FSC logo, a recycled symbol or some other certification. For this paper – by not starting with a tree felled in a forest – those certifications do not apply. Priced competitively, Legion Bamboo is a great out-of-the-box answer when you or your clients are asking for something to strike the balance between “green,” cleanliness, price, printability and uniqueness.

For a free Legion Bamboo sampler, please send an e-mail to

To request samples of other Legion Paper offerings, please visit

The letterpress work done on the pieces pictured throughout this article were produced at Rohner Letterpress.