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Monday, November 29, 2010

Tutorial-how to stretch your own canvas Part 1

Have you ever wanted to stretch your own canvas, but don't know where to begin? I can tell you from personal experience that it is a gratifying process...but I tend to enjoy the behind the scenes of painting as much as the painting! This will be one part of my process towards a painting from start to finish. I am going to chronicle my next painting, so keep watching for updates.
Tools!! I love them, you just can't have enough. I got a table saw for Christmas one year, and it has been the gift that keeps giving. To begin proper canvas stretching, you will need the following assortment of tools-
canvas pliers (mine are from Art supply warehouse Item #: 602202 on sale through today for 19.99) do NOT bother with the cheaper ones, they tear your canvas.

tack hammer-home depot Husky brand-magnetized on one end to pick up tacks

stapler-love the JT-21-small and strong-home depot
canvas-I am using Fredrix "Kent"
stretcher bars
right angle or t-square tool-home depot
tack remover-home depot
tacks-I am using copper coated from Fredrix, but they are hard to find, Charvin makes them through ASW, but mucho $$ You can use #3 or #6 carpet tacks from home depot as well.
pencil, scissors
braces-home depot

I assemble my stretcher bars, the rounded side should face the back of the canvas. There are different weights, I am using medium duty for this 20x40 painting. My rule of thumb is 18x24 or less can use light duty (fredrix is common brand) Medium duty works about an 18x24 size. I have not worked larger than 30x40, but would probably use heavy duty beyond that size. For your first stretch, try a smaller range-12x16-18x24.

I check for squareness with my right angle tool, and then screw in the braces on each corner.

Place the bar set-up on top of canvas, I like to use one of the red thread edges for keeping straight of grain. Check that you have enough over lap to cover about half of the bar when stretched around.

Mark with pencil around the bar. I use the good side for this, so I can see the pencil. Cut around the pencil, leaving the extra 2-4" on all sides to account for the overlap.

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