Lesson 3

How to stretch a sheet of paper.

Most of us would like to end up with a completely flat sheet of artwork. This is easy to do once you know one or two tricks. 

Up until the middle of the 19th century all paper was handmade using very basic materials. Cotton rag was the main ingredient for quality drawing and watercolour paper. It is still available at about £10-15 per sheet.

Less expensive papers are made substantially from wood pulp and kaolin clay. It makes paper feel very smooth and it falls apart after 20 years or so.

  1. Get a clean, smooth drawing board and a roll of 50mm Gumstrip. I have never found any other type of tape to work.
  2. Wet both sides of the sheet of paper. I usually do this over the bath with shower head. The paper should be fully wet.
  3. Lay the paper as flat as you can on the drawing board. Stick the 50mm wide Gumstrip around the edges on the paper on to the drawing board. About one inch on the paper, and the other on the wooden board. Leave it to dry.

If you use a sheet of modern cheap paper could easily tear when drying out. Some papers will tear while being stretched so it is often a matter of chance to see if the paper will stand up to the process.