Gluing Update

by Lisa    

      Sometimes one has to just say, “Good enough”. When I uncovered my large piece of paper that I climbed the proverbial mountain for, it was less than perfect, shall we say. I had made the egregious mistake of placing a piece of brown paper between the glued watercolor paper and the sheet metal to protect the pristine surface. The glue, Yes Paste, is water based, and the brown paper reacted to the moisture by wrinkling a bit, leaving an indelible impression in the surface of the watercolor paper. I could try it again, but it was so hard to do, and so many things could have gone wrong to mar the surface that I am just not sure it is worth it to try gluing it again.

      I did pursue a few other ideas to mount the paper. Joe Cibere, a fellow instructor and adept watercolor painter at the California Art Institute, suggested I soak the paper in the tub overnight so that the fibers swell, and then staple it to my board. He warned me about needing a thick board because the first time he ever did it, as the paper dried it actually snapped the wooden board in two. I explained to Joe that I am working LARGE here; that the paper has to stay mounted to an acid free surface that doesn’t weigh a ton (you don’t want to be removing a finished drawing that big that took you months to do–trust me); that I don’t have a freaking bathtub that big.

       Then I merely tried stapling a new piece of paper to my already existing board per our reader Nava’s rather flippant-suggestion-that-made-me-feel-like-an-idiot-for-not-thinking-of-it-first. Thinking like Joe, I sprayed the paper first  with water to make it swell at least a little before “stretching” it. I have decided one “stretches” canvas, but one does not “stretch” paper. Paper tears. Or it does not lay down nicely and looks worse than your first attempt at gluing it. I certainly thumbed my nose at Nava.

       At this point I honestly don’t know if it is possible to get a perfect surface like I am looking for without a lot of technology. I am a lowly artist and I just want to draw for cryin’ out loud.  I am really hoping that the finished drawing will be good enough that you won’t stand there and go “Damn that glue job sucks”.

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6 Responses to Gluing Update

  1. Nava says:

    OK, so I have never tried stretching a mammoth piece of paper. I don’t even know whether it’s a 300 or a 140 weight.

    But I have stretched soooooooooooooo many full sheets of watercolor paper (as in 22″ x 30″) – and they all came out as flat as the Netherlands. Yes, using a stapler. No, they did not tear.

    And so I insist: stapler-stretching rocks!!

    I shall go and pout now quietly in a dark corner. Alone. In the dark. Uphill, both ways.

    Once I’m done, I may have an idea for you, about what to do even if the paper does not come up perfectly flat. But pouting always comes first.

  2. lbtowers says:

    Gee Nava, that comment is worth posting on the front page!!! Thanks for the laugh. I certainly did not mean to hurt your feelings though. I’m just sure you know exactly what you are talking about!

  3. Nava says:

    Back from my pouting session. my lower lip hurts.

    So, I did a couple of paintings on crumpled watercolor paper – yes, I crumpled it on purpose, but I have a feeling the first person who did that came to the idea after failing to perfectly stretch a paper. So, even if your paper ends up with some wrinkles here and there, just blend it into the painting – it can add some real cool texture and interest. Just an idea…

  4. helenej says:

    I discover your blog and paintings: great artworks, bravo!

  5. lbtowers says:

    On the upside Nava, big lips are sexy. BTW it is actually a charcoal drawing I am doing rather than a painting. I know I know. I am using WATERCOLOR PAPER. I like the texture don’t forget. The texture of the paper, NOT the freaking wrinkles.

    And I hope you will continue to tune in to the Bill and Lisa show Helene!

  6. Gosh reading about your big rolled paper woes makes me glad I’m not working with the stuff.

    I think if I was, I’d cut some sheets off and leave them lying on the floor under a flat door with rocks and books on top for 6 months or so. Maybe spray the paper to help it relax, then use rolled plastic as a barrier if you’re using wood on top.

    This idea assumes you have some extra floor space somewhere and an old door. Or maybe one of those folding tables set smooth side down would work. Get a muscular young man (or two) to help you.

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