New Design for Watercolor Paper StretcherSeptember 6, 2016
I thought up a new project to update my method for stretching paper on a wooden frame instead of taping it to the face of a board. I had made a post on this subject several years ago showing a cheap and easy way that I have been doing this. That works fine, but the pins or staples on the sides can eventually damage the frame to such a degree that I have to make another one. So I thought I’d try out a new design using wood clamps. This is my first rough of that idea.
What I’ve done is build a small strainer type frame similar to that used for stretching canvas. The size is 16 x 20 inches. I’m using 3/4″ square strips of poplar, and thinner strips for the inner bracing. I have longer strips to fit the outer edges, and I’ve built small “C” clamps made of wood and 4″ bolts to grip the paper.
Here’s a shot of the the whole assembly from the back with the clamps in place. I’m using 300# Arches watercolor paper. It had been soaking in a tub of water for 10 minutes. The paper wasn’t quite long enough to wrap all the way around the shortest distance; only up the sides. In this case, I’ll have to keep the clamps on those two sides until I’m finished painting. With paper at the correct length, once it dries I can tape it to the back, and then remove the clamps with the tape holding it tight.
Here’s the front. I noticed that I had the clamps pressing against the paper on the top, and you can see marks they left in the paper. I pulled the clamps back a bit, and re-wet the paper to smooth it, and that got rid of the indentations. I think I’ll modify the clamps so that they have a beveled edge that can’t touch the paper. I might bevel the inner frame also, just in case.
This has only been drying now for about an hour, and I can already feel the paper getting very tight. I’ll check it in the morning to see how well it holds up. I can paint on this with any water based media without worrying about buckles or warping in the paper.