Stretching Your Own Canvas
Buying pre-stretched canvases supports for painting on is a relatively recent phenomenon. Historically artists have made their own, or had canvases made to order. Making your own canvas can be a very satisfying experience.
You'll need the following supplies and equipment to complete this task.
- A length of canvas (unprimed or primed)
- Four stretchers (the wood that makes up the frame)
- Staple gun and staples (or carpet tacks and hammer)
- Canvas pliers aren't essential, but do make it easier.
The first step is to join the stretchers. Lay them out on the floor, then fit the corner joins together. You may need to lightly tap the corners into place with a hammer. Use a set square or something you know is at right angle to ensure your frame is square.
Roll out your canvas, put the frame on top of it, then cut it to size, remembering that the canvas has to fold over the outside edge of the stretchers. You will need about 30mm more that the depth of the stretcher bar.
The most important things to remember when attaching your canvas to the stretchers is to work from the middle outwards and in opposites. So, starting in the center of one of the longest sides, staple the canvas to the back of the stretcher. Move to the opposite side, pull the canvas taught, and staple the middle in place. Repeat with the two narrow edges.
Now staple one edge from the middle of the longest side to the one end. Pull the canvas as tight as you can, use your canvas stretching pliers if required. Then do the same on the edge that is diagonally opposite. Continue like this until all the edges are in place. If you're stretching a very large canvas, don't staple all the way to the corner in one go. You'll get better tension by doing it in sections.
At the corners, fold the edges of the canvas neatly and staple the one on top of the other.