Stretching Sunflower Geometry

Or, how I stretch paper.

A sink with water. Let the chlorine evaporate if you suspect its in your water.

Put your paper sheet into the water. Normally I would do this before any drawing.

Completely submerge the paper for 3 – 5 minutes.

When removed hold the paper by a corner and allow excess water to drain.

The paper should be placed on a sheet of plywood when still wet. Plywood seems to work best for me.

Here I’m using a clean cotton towel to soak up any excess water. The paper should be laying flat.

The next few steps should be done quickly. Before the paper starts to dry and shrink. Start with the centre of each side of the paper.

Then all four corners pointing both directions. Make a corner with staples.

Followed by a staple half way between centre and corner, all the way around.

When its done it looks like this. This is 3/8″ plywood. Its light enough to carry around outdoors, or lazing around in a lounger with my feet on the table.

The paper will do this after a few minutes. Its called cockling, and its normal for this to happen. If stapled properly it will always dry flat and stay that way when removed from the panel. I do this with all my watercolours.

7 Responses to “Stretching Sunflower Geometry”

  1. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    very good instructions.

    • graphicanthropology Says:

      Thanks. I hoped it would be helpful, and useful.

      • melancholiastudioinc Says:

        If you keep using the same piece of plywood, stapling in the same place does the plywood start to go ragged at the edges and cause difficulty?

      • I haven’t had any trouble with that yet. I am usually adjusting the position of the paper each time so it doesn’t go in the exact same spot on the plywood. At some point though the wood will be used up for a particular size of paper. There wouldn’t be anything holding the staples and the paper would come loose. But a lot of different pieces of paper can be done on the same piece of wood. I think there is more of an issue when the paper is too wet. If the paper is soaked in the water too long then the staple can cut through the paper, causing it to break as it shrinks down as it dries.

      • I can count about 10 paintings that were done on this piece of wood. And I have a few other pieces of wood a little bigger that are also in use.
        There are other ways of stretching paper too. I’ve seen devices that use a standard size frame and clamps to hold the paper over the edges.

  2. melancholiastudioinc Says:

    lol, you see the things we consider! But they are important as artists for a lifetime, it’s not like we’re doing it once for homework!

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