Removing cockles and wrinkles from watercolor paper

If you do not stretch your watercolor paper you will usually find that your paper has cockled (the creasing or wrinkling of a surface) or warped during painting to a varying degree. Then when you try to frame it your painting will not sit flat on its mat. To help with this problem I have produced a short video on removing cockles and wrinkles from watercolor paper.

I have a technique I use to fix this which will re-flatten watercolor paintings. I must say at the outset however that you do this at your own risk because if you let any water flow onto the painted surface of your watercolor painting you will ruin it!

To carry out this technique you will need the following material:

  • Flat table or bench top
  • A sheet of mat board cut into two so each half will fully cover the watercolor paintings you would like to flatten.
  • A sheet of waterproof plywood about 6mm or 1/4″ thick
  • About 7 strong clamps and or lots of heavy books
  • A trigger water spray bottle

Removing cockles and wrinkles from watercolor paper

Here is how to do it:

  • Lay one of your sheets of mat board on your table or bench top.
  • Place the paintings you want to flatten painted side down beside one another with a gap of about 2.5cm or 1″ between each.
  • With your spray bottle give the back of each painting a good spray of water, much sure no water runs under the paper where it can damage the actual painted surface.
  • I then run my hand over the back of each painting to make sure the paper is evenly wet. If need be I can add an additional spray of water.
  • I then place the second piece of mat board over the paintings and on top of that I place my plywood.
  • I then clamp all the way around my board and in the middle of the board I also place a stack of heavy books.
  • I leave all this to dry overnight.

The next day your paintings should be very flat and ready for framing.

Below you can see a short video I have produced on how to remove cockles and wrinkles from watercolor paper which you can have a look at. It should make all the above steps a little bit clearer. Hopefully this will help improve the overall presentation of your work and give your watercolors a more professional look.