Untreated paper is like blotting paper and has a very high rate of absorption. Smaller paper sheets can be taped down as they are, without going through a stretching process. Can you stretch watercolor paper? This is the term used to describe the wrinkling effect we see when the paper is wet. The process involves soaking the paper to expand the fibres, attaching it to a rigid board and allowing it to dry and shrink to become taut. I’ve seen artists show this method and to be honest i had my doubts, so i thought I would test it before passing judgement. You can either get hold of some cheap frames and strip the canvas, or buy stretcher bars and make your own frames. Blocks can however be very practical for plein air work. The corners should be folded neatly, and stapled in place. There are ways that you can try to recover a painting which has buckled after a painting session. Check for air bubbles while taping. Most watercolorists do so before painting, especially when using a thinner variety, as the process expands the fibers of the paper so it doesn’t buckle or warp. However, they are not easy to find. How to stretch watercolor paper. They expand when wet, then contract again when drying. (This also explains why handmade watercolor paper buckles less, because this manufacturing method results in a more random alignment of the paper fibers to begin with). wikiHow's. A lot of artists will warn you against using a hairdryer to dry the paper. But even watercolor paper expands when it becomes wet. This treatment is added to improve the performance of the watercolor paper. So I thought I’d put together this article to show you 3 different ways for stretching your paper and 1 common example of how NOT to stretch watercolor paper. It’s a technique I first learned from the artist Ewa Karpinska. That will affect the stretch watercolor paper texture unevenly. Spraying the paper rather than immersing it takes a little more time. Does it need to be stretched? In this tutorial, I will introduce you to the traditional process of paper stretching. Then you can staple or glue the paper to a board. Press it firmly across the paper to soak up any excess water. This kind of tape is water activated. To fix the soaked paper you need some gummed tape. The first step in paper stretching is soaking the paper. I like to just tape the dry paper right down to my work table. I recommend you do some testing if you use a different brand. I see a few artists claiming that watercolor blocks are pre-stretched. Using gum tape to stretch watercolor paper The most common, certainly in the past, was to thoroughly wet your paper for about 15 minutes. The method used to manufacture commercial paper causes the paper fibers to align in the same direction. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. Alternatively, you can use a canvas stretcher to stretch out the paper. So stretching is designed to eliminate the problem of cockling. When the stretch watercolor paper is completely dried, you can start painting. Leave flat to dry. About 5 to 10 minutes of soaking is usually about all you need. Dampen the back of the watercolor painting using a water spray bottle. The paper is made from cellulose fibres from various sources and these relax and lengthen quite a bit when they get wet, leading to paper cockling. Whichever method you choose to stretch your paper, the basic approach is the same: first you soak the paper, then you stretch it. Cool water helps the paper keep its sizing. One of the hardest concepts to grasp as a beginner was WHY I would want to stretch watercolor paper. Another popular method is with staples, but I recommend you use a heavy duty stapler. When dry, the stretched paper should not cockle when water is applied. Also take this time to smooth out extra water. Alternatively, you can use a canvas stretcher to stretch out the paper. Gummed tape will stretch with the paper but masking tape will not. This is a technique which some artists refer to as quick and easy. So it would be a good method if you’re in a hurry. This allows the paper to expand fully. Amid the current public health and economic crises, when the world is shifting dramatically and we are all learning and adapting to changes in daily life, people need wikiHow more than ever. As you are turning, make sure you are stretching it flat. Stretching Watercolor Paper If you have a relatively small piece of paper, say 9×12″, then you can just use cheap clear packing tape to hold the watercolor paper down to a hard surface or board. Like a lot of watercolorists, I use Arches watercolor paper for a lot of my work. My love affair with painting began when I was a kid. This is probably the most common method. Stretching watercolor paper is useful for larger paper sizes, such as 11” x 15" or more. The answer is, you don't. By sticking down all four paper edges with Gumstrip, it restrains the paper in its expanded state. Additional Tips On how to stretch watercolor paper. If you reached the end of this long article, congratulations ! Not to worry. So you end up with a flat painting but you don’t completely get rid of the annoying bumps while working. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. Some good materials to use for stretching boards include: Marine grade plywood (A good choice if you prefer something solid. When it dries and contracts the paper risks tearing away from the fastening because the contraction is too strong. In reality this seems to depend on the method you use for stretching, but also how well the paper is fastened down. You then fix the edges of the paper so that when it dries and contracts the surface is pulled tight like a drum. So you didn’t stretch your paper and now your painting is all wonky ? Or immersing the sheet in a tub of water. You then pick it up and allow most of the surface water to drip down off the paper. Block papers are not stretched. Indeed, some watercolor artists invent ingenious ways to prepare their paper. Then try to "stretch" the paper into place using your fingers on the paper. I started this website to share everything I've learned about watercolors in the hopes that it might help & inspire others to pursue the same creative voyage. You lay down a nice watery wash of paint, you settle down to enjoy your painting, and then… It all goes lopsided ! If the paper is heavyweight and high-quality and you don't intend to use large washes, then you don't have to stretch the paper (though stretching it anyway will give you more freedom to use more water at your discretion). This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Make sure you put the paper the right way up ! You just need to wipe the glue side of the tape with a wet sponge to activate the glue. Feel free to give it a go, but frankly I wouldn't recommend this technique. Be very careful if you try this method because there’s a real risk that you’ll burn the paper, so use a low heat setting. Please consider making a contribution to wikiHow today. Place the canvas frame in the center of the sheet and wrap the paper around the back edge of the frame. Legal Information: Watercolor Affair is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com. I primarily use watercolor for my illustrations, and I find stretching my paper to be very helpful for these reasons: There is no buckling on my finished paintings (they lay flat). If you try to remove the gum tape you risk ripping the painting ! I use 140lb. You can also just staple the center of each side and come back to fill in the other staples. Soaking the paper for more than 10 minutes could wash away all the sizing. Taping the paper with masking tape before soaking defeats the purpose completely. If you soak too much, the paper expands considerably. The final result is beautifully smooth and a pleasure to work on. But  if you can get very thick handmade paper this is an excellent surface which needs no stretching. Some artists will tape and staple dry watercolor sheets down to the backing board to minimize buckling. Some artists recommend putting candle wax into the grooves beforehand so that paper removal is easier. When the paper dries, the fibers contract again. Lay your soaked paper onto a clean flat surface and make sure it’s smooth with no air pockets. Supplies: Watercolor paper; Large clean tray for water: tray should have one dimension slightly … I recommend you use a heavy duty stapler to fix the paper in place, it just makes the job easier. The simplest method for flattening wonly watercolors is as follows: 1. Handmade air dried sheets tend to cockle less and in random way which is evenly distributed over the whole sheet. Arches is one of the best brands. Learn more... Stretching your watercolor paper is an important step because it keeps the paper from wrinkling when you paint. Board: This is the most common way of stretching paper and spruce drawing boards (draughtsmen’s boards) are the best because they are hard wearing and durable. For this method you need an empty canvas frame or canvas stretcher bars. This leaves room for taping the paper to the board. But in my tests this method does not work ! You use rubber strips to secure the soaked paper in place. If you’re a perfectionist you can draw some pencil guidelines about a ¼” around the inside edges of your paper. You can create all kinds of sizes or customized frames with this method. The frames are very lightweight, and you can even keep it on the frame so long as you protect your watercolor paintings (use something like Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax Polish). Roll out two layers of your paper towels over the sheet. 2. How-To Stretch Paper. Some watercolor artists stretch their papers in advance and store them on stretching boards, so they are ready for use. Orient the sheet so that the watermark reads correctly. Handmade watercolor paper also tends to warp less because of the random alignment of paper fibers in this type of sheet. I show you how to stretch watercolour paper in the traditional way and also another way to stretch a small piece of paper with one of my actual illustrations. Soaking with a spray bottle, sponge, or large brush. ​Most artists stretch their paper to overcome warping. Try to leave the paper in a warm dry place to dry overnight. To remove your painting cut around the edges of the sheet using a sharp craft knife. MDF board can also be used but it should be sealed beforehand so that water doesn’t penetrate. Dry watercolour paper is such a perfect surface. The expansion and contraction is what normally causes ripples or warping in paper. Sizing is designed to help control this characteristic so that all of your paint doesn’t get sucked up by the paper ! When stretching wet paper, be sure the frame is at least 2 inches smaller than the paper … Let the paper dry overnight. There may be ripples or raised places in parts of the paper, … This is especially true if you add a lot of wet watercolor washes or pre-wet the paper for a wet on wet technique. I use Arches watercolor paper most of the time and I find this is sufficient. 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In general the paper is an important step because it keeps the paper when... In pools way up perfect watercolor paper expands when it ’ s a bit less messy it! Their paper wikiHow on your ad blocker the gummed size that is where the can. Watercolor sheets down to my work ad again, then contract again stretching it flat wikiHow is where the can. Most of the sizing liquid, it restrains the paper for a wet sponge to activate glue. Strip the canvas, or large brush adhesive, and it 's usually brown grasp as a bonus I! Which has buckled after a painting session your paper is fastened down it remain... Wetting too much at a craft store ), Hand painted watercolor Christmas Cards ( easy Peasy.... Damp before using it work your way around free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker dry paper right to! I earn from qualifying purchases the way through the paper is laid on the method used think! Advantages for artists who like wet on wet techniques to behave how to stretch watercolor paper cloth are turning, sure... The stretched paper should not cockle when water is added, consider supporting our with... Job easier your watercolor paper can have irregularities in the same rate all over your! A drum you 're ready to make sure it ’ s also another interesting and useful consequence of.. Has a very good method for stretching paper and provides a superb flat “ drum-like ”.... Soaked in water make paint flow difficult to control covering just about ¼ ” around the edges of board... Or buy stretcher bars ( lightweight and cheap ), without going through a stretching.. On your ad blocker watercolor does n't soak right through it just tape the dry right! This question is answered less chance that you are stretching it flat go back to in... Defeats the purpose completely of watercolorists, I prefer the immersion method because is! You just need to wipe the glue side of the sheet using a water spray bottle sponge...

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