How To Stretch Canvases

How To Stretch Canvases

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This post is a tutorial on how to stretch canvases.

Now that you’ve built your cradle, you need to stretch the canvas onto it!

Stretching your canvases requires a specific tool: canvas pliers. You can find them at your local (or online) art supply store (I recommend Blick!). You’ll also need high-quality canvas, also found only at your local art store. Do not buy the wrong canvas! It will be a mess. Make sure you purchase Medium #12 Cotton Canvas. Anything less will be too thin, and your paint will seep through. You can also use linen, depending on how much texture you’d like in your painting. I also recommend getting unprimed canvas, and priming it yourself.

What You’ll Need:

Getting Set Up

  1. After gathering or purchasing your materials, find a clean, flat surface to stretch your canvas on.
  2. Unfold and lay your canvas flat. Place your frame on the material, leaving about 4″ on the edges. Cut your canvas to size, leaving about 4″ excess on each side for stretching around the cradle. Fold up your remaining canvas and store.
  3. Fill your staple gun with staples and plug it in. Use an extension cord if you need more slack.

Stretching

  1. On the first side, pull the canvas securely around the frame and staple in the center.
  2. Flip to the opposite side and, using the pliers, pull tight and staple again in the center. Don’t pull so tightly that the other side of the canvas becomes uneven.
  3. Rotate and repeat on the next two sides.
  4. Alternating sides (working on sides opposite each other) work your way from the center to the edge of the frame, pulling the canvas taut and stapling onto the frame.Leave enough room on the edges to fold your corners (about 2 – 3 inches). Your canvas should be as tight as possible. You don’t want it to give under the pressure of your brush while you are painting. Periodically test the tautness by lifting it up and thumping on the center. It should sound like a drum.
  5. Clean corners are vital to the presentation of your canvas. You want to fold neat hospital corners, with the edge of the fold facing downward. Pull the excess from one side and tuck it underneath. Fold at a diagonal twice and staple securely.
  6. There should be excess canvas around the edges of your frame. Fold neatly and tuck onto the inside of the frame. Staple to secure. Trim any loose threads.

You now have an awesome, ready-to-paint-on canvas!

 

…If you’re using acrylic paints, that is.

Acrylic Paints are plastic-based, and won’t rot your canvas. Oil paints, on the other hand, will. If you’re using oils, you’ll need to prime your canvas first. Prime your canvas using smooth, quality gessos. You want your painting surface to be as smooth as possible.

See my tutorial for priming your canvases!


Hey friends! This post contains affiliate links. I like to promote my favorite brands, like Blick, and in return, I get a bit of commission. Help support me and my business by purchasing from these stores through my links!

 



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