Stretching Watercolour paper

Stretching the Paper:

This is a technique I adapted from a guy called Jim Kosvanec (he has a really fascinating book on watercolours and transparency, really different style of watercolour). This is merely the way I do it, not saying it’s the best way, not even saying you have to stretch paper, this is just a personal preference. (Of late I’ve been slack, but I always do this when working on commissions),

  1. I stretch it in the loungeroom when I’m watching tv, although it’s probably best to do it somewhere you don’t mind getting wet, like the kitchen table . You need a towel, staple gun, masking tape, board, water spray bottle and the paper. My board is made of a sheet of thick pine/ soft wood.
  2. Make sure the board is clean! If it’s not clean the water will transfer the dirt/ colour / stuff to the paper. Damp down the board using the spray bottle.
  3. Place the paper with the side you want against the board facing up (with most paper’s I don’t think it really matters) . Dampen the paper evenly with the spray bottle so that you get an even sheen across the paper.
  4. Flip it over. You may need to damp the board again if there are dry patches. Place the paper flat on the board and spray the surface of the paper with water evenly.
  5. Sponge off the excess water from the paper with a towel and make sure there are no bubbles. If there is, dampen under the paper and spray that section with some more water. Remove the excess water with the towel. The paper should be damp, not sopping, otherwise the masking tape won’t stick.
  6. Tape the edges with masking tape. I usually go over the end of the board for extra support.
  7. Staple the paper to the board along the line of masking tape. I find it’s best to staple around 3-4cm apart, and about 1/2cm-1cm from the inside edge of the masking tape. Also, if you don’t have some kind of staple remover, try not to staple fully to the board. They are a pain to remove!
  8. Allow to dry. I generally leave it leaning against the wall or something. Sometimes they bubble at the corner, but that’s generally when I’m in a hurry.