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Friday, December 3, 2010

Tutorial-how to stretch your own canvas Part 3

Check your progress on the front of the canvas. If there is a ripple in the mid section, you can gently pull out the tack with the tool, then firmly pull again with pliers and re-tack. Be careful when pulling out any tacks, they can fly into your eyes! I usually do not have problems with ripples, but every so often, I find a canvas does not co-operate. There are differences between each canvas, some are springy, some are really tight, some looser feeling...these will cause you to adjust how hard/firm you pull with the pliers. The lip on one side of the pliers is there as a leverage device, and can help you pull tautly. It takes some practice to get the feel for it, but is well worth the effort.

To finish the long sides of your canvas, you must tuck the ends under and then tack. I first tuck in the canvas excess from the short side, laying it flat on the long side bar.

Then tuck the long sides excess in at a 45 degree angle and lay it down on top, making sure the edge is flush to the bars.

Pull firmly with pliers and tack, taking care to note where the stretcher bars are actual wood, not inset portions. If you tack into the insets, the tacks can pop out of the cross-grained softer wood. This means your tack with be either at the front or back of the bar.

Repeat on all corners. Check to see if your canvas sounds like a drum when you tap on it. I like to hear a good tight drum sound that almost hurts my ears. Check again for ripples. Many are pushed towards the corners and work themselves out, which is nice. Check again for squareness of canvas, you don't want the canvas to not fit into a frame by being off of angle

Lay canvas face down and cut off any sloppy excess. You need enough canvas overlap to staple down on all sides for a neat finish. Some like to use a staple gun in place of tacks. It works well, too. I prefer the old-fashioned method-it seems to hold up the best for 100's of years, and tacks are easier to remove and re-use, in my opinion.
I will publish a post down the road about making canvas panels.
Finished canvas:

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