Friday, 11 July 2014

How to soak and stretch watercolour paper

Here's a quick guide for soaking and stretching watercolour paper effectively.

Immerse the sheet of paper under running water from a tap for 3 minutes (150 or 190gsm) or 8 minutes (300gsm) taking care not to touch the area you intend to paint as the paper is fragile when wet and finger marks will show up in the wash.

Place the soaked sheet on a sturdy board.

Wet some gummed tape (do not soak) and place around all four edges of the paper.

Blot any excess water with a clean paper towel and leave to dry on a slight tilt.

Leave the paper to dry overnight.

When dry the paper will be stretched tightly on the board and when water is added with paint the paper will not move.

Important: When soaking the paper it is very important NOT to accidentally contaminate the paper with residues of detergents, which are found in areas like baths and sinks. Detergents attack the sizing causing the paper to become very absorbent and unstable.

How to avoid soaking and stretching

Use a heavier weight of paper such as 425gsm or above. The paper is thick enough to withstand the moisture applied to it without buckling/cockling too much. The heavier the paper the less it will move.

Use a watercolour block. These are glued on all four sides pulling the paper tight so that it resists buckling/cockling.

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