View Full Version : Tape for Stretching Paper

Drew Davis
04-14-1999, 06:58 PM
What's a good tape for stretching watercolor paper? Gum strip seems to have completely disappeared in my area, whether from art supply or office supply stores. All they have now is self-adhesive plastic stuff, or masking tape. I found some linen archival tape, but that's pretty expensive for throwaway applications like this, fine as it may be for mounting.

05-01-1999, 06:59 PM
Hello, Drew:
I've noticed also that the gummed brown wrapping tape seems to be harder and harder to find. You can try some unlikely places like Walgreen's, K-Mart, etc. rather than the art supply stores. I sure wouldn't use linen tape for this purpose...it's way too expensive.

If you have no luck finding the gummed tape, you might consider this "closing door" as an opportunity to make the switch to another type of stretching system.

I use a lightweight wood drawing board and a regular household stapler in the "tacking" position, and just staple my paper down while it's wet to the board, and let it dry. I use a flat, spatula-like staple remover (made by Bostitch) to remove the staples once I've finished the painting.

There are lots of other ways to stretch watercolor paper...some pretty fancy ones that force the paper edges into grooves, etc. etc. Look at some of the art supply catalogs and see what's available.

Good luck!
Ellen Fountain
Contributing Editor

06-11-1999, 08:22 PM
Yes, stapling is the best way to go. Most professional watercolor papers have had their acid removed so that the painting wouldn't yellow over the years and last for more than a century; however, I'm concerned that the gum that is on the tape used for wrapping packages when used for stretching watercolor paper does contain acids and these will seep into the wet paper, thus leading to deterioration in a much shorter period of time. Unless the tape manufacturer says otherwise, I would stay away from tape and only use staples.

Drew Davis
06-13-1999, 12:21 AM
The good old-fashioned stuff was just gum arabic on paper, so it was pretty safe. Not so great for wrapping packages, I have to admit http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif The new stuff I don't trust, either.

It always seemed like you'd go through a lot of boards by using tacks or staples. Don't they chew up the surface pretty quickly, especially if you use a lot of them, as you'd need to avoid straining the paper at a few attachment points? I'll evidently be giving it a try anyway, but that notion was why I started out with tape instead of staples in the first place.

08-15-1999, 10:50 PM
Check out drafting tape such as architects use. Stretchin is not really necessary anymore if you use heavy enough paper. Try at least 140 pound.

Drew Davis
11-20-1999, 10:54 AM
I discovered a roll of the good old fashioned gummed paper stuff at Dick Blick. (Not exactly an exotic source, but the "local" one isn't all that local to me; I just happened to be in the neighborhood yesterday.) They're online, too, (www.dickblick.com) if anyone else is having similar trouble.

12-14-1999, 07:14 PM
Are you saying that masking tape is too acid to use? Even if you don't leave it on too long? Up north here, especially with the heat on, masking tape doesn't seem to stay on my paper for more than a day or two before coming unglued, at least in some sections of the paper.
The other alternative is to use heavier paper and just use clips to clip onto a board. 300# is great.

Website: http://www.wordrunner.com/louweez

Drew Davis
12-15-1999, 10:34 PM
From what I read, the adhesive in masking tape is bad for paper. The tape itself is bad, but even after you take it off, it leaves some adhesive behind, which can "burn" the paper over time. It's sort of a moot point, since as you say, it doesn't hold well enough to really be useful for stretching watercolor paper.

Gum strip, on the other hand, is just gum arabic, same as the binder in the watercolors. I also like the fact that it's water-soluble, so I can easily clean the board on which I stretch the paper. Masking tape just leaves sticky stuff there, and it's relatively hard to scrape off. The other nice thing about gum strip is that it's cheap. I've seen other archival tapes, but they tend to be really expensive.

08-23-2003, 06:46 PM
Is masking tape bad?I use it but i think i should just staple it now.:D

08-23-2003, 07:14 PM
you all may want to do a SEARCH here for threads about tape and stretching paper...and look ^^ up above sat the stickies

There is a lot of information here.

Hi, Ellen......are you an editor here at WC!?

04-05-2004, 09:22 PM
I've recently joined, great site.
I previously used staples to secure wet paper to board for my partner Carol, but experienced big problems removing staples.

Solution 1:
a) Extend a 1/2inch thick wooden frame from underside of board, say 2" inches wide, extending say 1" from underside of frame.
b) Purchase some aluminium fly-screen frames (the one which secures screen wire in a channel with 1/4 inch rubber tubing).
c) Screw the aluminium frame to the extended wooden frame, (channel in towards the board).
d) Secure wet paper to the board with the rubber tubing.

i) Dimensions of the board must be such that you allow no more than 1/2 inch overlap of paper.
ii) I usually wet the board thoroughly before putting paper on. This stops the board from drying the paper too quickly.

Solution 2
i) Secure wooden frame as previous.
ii) Make up some strips of timber say 1 inch wide, same length & thickness as board.
iii) Secure timber strips with panel pins (small nails) to wooden frame.
iv)I use a sample piece of rubber tubing plus (2) strips of wet paper to get the correct gap.
v) Secure the wet paper to the board with rubber tubing.

For the board & strips, I use 1/4 inch ply (internal type is OK), but sometimes the rubber strip causes "bleed back" on to the paper, which may or may not be a big problem.

Future idea:
I am currently investigating using one of the plastics as a base board, maybe edging with softer timber which will allow staples to be pulled out easier.

04-06-2004, 04:23 AM
Welcome to the forum, Bob.

Sounds as if you are going to be a really useful member.

How about more details about yourself? Fill in your profile with as much detail as you care to give. It's always nice to know where people live, etc.


04-07-2004, 05:19 PM
Thats strange , i picked up my paper tape no problem in a local stationary shop

If its in short supply maybe I should buy a crate full and ebay it :D

04-07-2004, 07:23 PM
[QUOTE=Drew Davis]What's a good tape for stretching watercolor paper? Gum strip seems to have completely disappeared in my area, whether from art supply or office supply stores.QUOTE]

Hmmm. I don't know where you're posting from - what country. If USA, then have you tried places like Home Depot (builder suppliers)? I know that the paper tapes are being replaced by plastics for packaging, but I think the paper is still useful in wall papering and other homebuilder applications.