How to Stretch Watercolour Paper Using Ken Bromley’s Perfect Paper Stretcher

Invented during the second world war, the Ken Bromley Perfect Paper Stretcher has had a few makeovers since it’s original conception, but the basic premise of how it works remains the same – and it is just so simple!

Stretch your cartridge, pastel or water colour paper (up to 140lb) and dry it ‘tight-as-a-drum‘ in minutes and it will not cockle or pull away no matter how wet the wash. The board is made from top quality lacquered wood and comes with 4 plastic gripper rods and full instructions. This is a simple and certain way to use lightweight paper and save time and money with no fuss.

The paper stretchers are available in three sizes to fit full, 1/2 and 1/4 imperial paper. In order to allow the paper to fit round the edge of the board, the boards are slightly smaller than the paper and the finished painting will 3/4 inch smaller than the paper size.

How it works

Step 1

After soaking paper, position the board over the paper.

Step 2

Remove excess moisture (with a cloth or towel) and pinch the corners of the paper to follow the edges of the board.

Step 3

Secure paper by tapping the four rods into the grooves around the board.

Step 4

The paper can be dried immediately using a hair dryer or heater. Alternatively, can be left to dry naturally

How Ken Invented the Perfect Paper Stretcher

ken“In 1940 I was serving in the Royal Corps of Signals and stationed in Stoney Stratford (Nr. Bletchley). “Stoney” had about 28 pubs and to supplement my meagre army pay, I persuaded the landlords to have a watercolour of their premises…. the going rate was ‘one Guinea and one pint’ (I do hear that one or two of the paintings are hanging to this day). However, paper stretching was nigh impossible because both drawing pins and sticky gummed tape had been requisitioned for the war effort. It was then that the idea was born. While the “Boffins” were busy cracking German codes, I was solving the problem of paper stretching!
A co-operative comrade in the workshops found time to make a board based on the basic principals and… EUREKA!- IT WORKED. Old fashioned brass stair rods gripped the paper and I used the board throughout the war including service in India. I still have the Mark 1 circa 1940 to this very day.
But it didn’t occur to me to market the idea until about ten years ago.I produced an up-to-date model and it was tested and endorsed by well-known artists such as Ron Ranson, James Fletcher-Watson, Norman Battershill, Angus Rands and Philipp Berrill. I sold thousands and received many letters of appreciation from amateur painters. ”

Listen to what some say…

-“Brilliant! Why didn’t anyone think of this before.”
-“It’s ended my paper stretching nightmare.”
-“Watercolour boards and 300lb paper are a thing of the past.”
-“Amazing, it’s so simple, a child could use it.”
-“Every watercolourist needs one.”
-“My two boards have paid for themselves over and over again.”
-“The watercolour painters best friend.”
-“As an OAP I really appreciate the savings using your stretcher boards.”


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Ken Bromley Art Supplies: Unit 13 Lodge Bank Estate, Crown Lane, Horwich, Bolton BL6 5HY, United Kingdom
Tel: 01204 690114
Company Reg No. 2413062