This is a quick behind-the-scene look at "Wet-Mounting". The finishing step in Chinese style watercolor.
When paper is soaked then dried, it inevitably buckles and becomes wavy. Usually for western style watercolor, a heavy-weight paper is used and/or the paper is stretched before the painting process commences to minimize buckling. In Chinese style watercolor, stretching is done after the painting is completed. This saves time because I only stretch the painting I wish to display. Two years ago, I did many different versions of "Journey behind the falls" but I only stretched two.
This year, I did a painting of Letchworth State Park. For Chinese style watercolor, very light-weight absorbent paper is used, traditionally made from tree bark and rice straws. After the painting is done (this is version #3), it's placed good-side down on a smooth surface.
I have my tools handy: backing paper (has to be larger than the painting), water-soluble paste and a wide goat-hair brush, a padded putty knife (traditionally a stubby palm broom is used, but I don't have that).
The whole painting is spritzed with water to help the paper relax. After smoothing out the all the bubbles, it's brushed with the paste. Backing paper is then placed on top, and pushed down with the padded putty knife, assuring good adhesion.
Paste is then applied to the edges of the backing paper. The whole thing is carefully peeled off and stretched good-side up on a mounting board to dry. Once it's dried, it can be remove from the mounting board with an utility knife.