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DIY Watercolor Block Tutorial

For the binder clips, the bigger the better. For the C-Clamps, smaller ones (the ones pictured are 2″) are easier to work with.

Recently I saw online that it’s possible to create your own watercolor blocks. I gave it a try myself, and found that it was indeed possible! So here is an easy to follow tutorial (with photos) so you can make your own!

Materials:

-Various clips/clamps (binder clips/C-clamps work best)

-Padding compound, 2 oz. (only a small amount is needed)

-A cheap brush

-A paper cutting knife

-Watercolor paper (between 10-20 sheets)

-Sturdy cardboard

-scrap piece of paper

Watercolor paper, cardboard, and scrap piece of paper already cut to size.

1. With your knife, cut your paper and cardboard to size.

Try to cut them as precisely as possible; they need to be stacked evenly and flush. I had pre-cut mine the day before; the cardboard is actually two pieces of scrap cardboard glued together to be extra sturdy. The scrap paper is to protect the top layer of water color paper from the padding compound.

Try to have them stacked neatly with edges flush together.

2. Stack up the paper and cardboard.

Again, make it as flush and even as possible.

Have the clips spread evenly and matched on both sides.

3. Start clipping the stack together.

The binder clips are good because they provide broad flat pressure, but are limited by how wide they can be opened. The C-clamps are also good because they’re easily adjustable, but it’s a smaller focused pressure. So depending on the size of your block, you can alternate between the two. Since mine is a long one, I’m going to distribute them as evenly as possible.

It looks very silly, but now the stack of watercolor paper is tightly secured.

Finished clipping! I used two small scraps of cardboard under the C-clamps so that there wouldn’t be any unsightly circles on the paper if I used too much pressure.

I got this little bottle off Amazon for $8 (not including shipping).

4. Grab your padding compound and brush; paint a generous coating on all the edges (don’t forget to leave a small space for the palette knife).

The padding compound is the key ingredient- straight from the bottle, it’s similar in texture to Elmer’s glue. But the difference is when it dries- it’s flexible enough to allow one page to be removed at a time. It’s mostly used to create those little notepads for grocery lists.

At art supply stores, padding compound would be found with the bookmaking supplies. However, I didn’t want a giant 12 oz. bottle, so I just got a 2 oz. from Amazon.

Give it a nice even coating; not too thin, but not dripping off either.

Give it a nice even coating; not too thin, but not dripping off either.

Coat the edge top to bottom; it has to touch every sheet of paper, even the cardboard. If it looks like any cracks got missed, go back and fill them in. It will dry fast, within 5-10 minutes. If you want to be very sure, you can give it a second coat. If any padding compound gets on your clips or clamps, just wait until it dries, then peel it off.

If you want to re-use the brush, you can wash it with soap and water, and it should still be in good condition.

Not as professional as a block from Arches, but it works.

Finished!

There you go; a nice finished watercolor block! It’s handy for any small pieces of watercolor paper you might have lying around, especially ones that are too small to tape down. This block will probably be used for making comic strips or something similar.

I’d love to hear back from anyone who tries to make their own watercolor block!

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