Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The History of the Watercolorboard™

The Watercolorboard™ evolved from the frustration of buckling watercolor paper and the loss of control when pigment runs down hill as your paper starts to buckle.

I took an architectural rendering class that opened my eyes to the possibilities of watercolor: rendering in logical steps, background to foreground in controlled washes, dark to light and warm to cool. The one problem was the buckling. We were taught to stretch by soaking the paper for at least an hour, taping and stapling it to ¾ inch plywood. The paper sure seemed attached to the board, but was it stretched? Almost always, it buckled whenever the paper reached a certain saturation point, so this method seemed unreliable at best. My search for a dependable stretching method began.

Almost all methods of “stretching” really only attach the paper to the backing board. The paper is not so much “stretched” but “shrunk.” When the paper is re-soaked during a wet wash, the small amount of tension that is there is released and buckles form. I started looking for a simple way to put more tension on the paper. I finally came up with a way to put tension on the paper as it is being tightened down, so that no matter how wet the paper got again, there would always be more tension to keep it flat.

Other people got interested when they saw how my paper stayed flat as I worked with very wet washes. After being encouraged to market my idea, I decided that I wanted to make a product that I would want to buy, something that would not break or be useless if some part broke or was lost. At the time I was working as an illustrator for a large industrial design firm, so I drew from the expertise that was around me. The result is The Watercolorboard™.

By Joe Leahy (inventor)

**A unique feature of the Watercolorboard™ is the beautiful embossed edge it leaves. The frame tightens on the paper to create a clean, finished edge.

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