First of all, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year - as this is my first post of 2016!
I have made only 3 New Years Resolutions for the New Year and 'blogging every week' is one of the 3. I know we're half way through January - but, hey, I just made this resolution yesterday!
Since my 2nd resolution was to paint every week - I found that I had to 'stretch' some watercolor paper. So, here is the process that I have developed (mainly because I couldn't afford an expensive 'paper stretching' frame!).
Before I get into the process (in case you're new to watercolor painting) - let me explain the basic concept and why it's so important. Unless you are painting on extremely expensive and 'hard to find' 300 lb. watercolor paper, the paper will buckle when you apply water. However, if you stretch the paper first - you can go crazy adding as much water and paint as you want - and your paper will stay flat. By thoroughly wetting the paper and then securing it to a flat surface - it will not be able to shrink as it dries. Voila! Buckle proof paper!
Note about paper: I like to use a good quality 140 lb. paper, like Arches. You can stretch any paper but I guess I'm a believer that you get what you pay for. I also love to paint on Bristol board and I also stretch that. Bristol board has a smooth, slick surface and will give you completely different results. It's harder to use but I love the look.
The materials you will need to make your 'stretcher' are as follows:
1. A thick piece of acrylic, cut 1" (length and width) larger than your paper. I bought mine at a local Ace Hardware.
2. Metal strips (about an inch wide). Note: The shorter metal pieces should be at least 2" shorter than shortest acrylic side. The longer metal pieces can be the same length as long edge of acrylic.
3. Strong, big paper clips. I bought a large box of 2" clips at my local office supply store.
- Soak your paper in clean sink or flat plastic pan. Use warm water and soak paper for app. 2-3 minutes. I have seen a lot of variance in the amount of time recommended to soak paper but 3 minutes for me seems to be best. If you soak the paper any longer, the 'starch' on the paper will rub off.
- Remove your paper from water (letting excess water drain for a few seconds, into the sink) by holding it by one corner. Then carefully center your wet paper on the acrylic. Smooth lightly with a clean sponge and dab with a clean paper towel, making sure to dab excess water off edge of paper and acrylic.
- Put your metal strips on each edge - covering no more than 1/8" of paper.
- Secure the metal strips with your clips, making sure to put a lot of clips and a clip on each corner. See Example. Then, let dry for 24 hours.