Canvas Stretched Professionally

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How to stretch canvas professionally on a canvas-panel?

In case you ignore pre-stretched canvas panels from your art-material dealer and prefer to use a specially chosen painting cloth, you need to know, how to professionally stretch canvas on a wedge panel. First put the roll canvas flat on the floor. To cut the cloth to a proper size, place the frame on the roll canvas and cut the cloth all around about 10 cm (4 inches) bigger on each of the four sides of the wooden panel. You need that much overlay to stretch and tighten the textile professionally on the canvas panel.

This traditional painting grounding for artworks in oil colour, acrylic, and gouache is often attached to the panel with broad headed nails, that still can be seen aside the canvas panel. These days painters mostly use electric staplers to fix the stretched cloth.

Fasten the canvas with accuracy

You can also fasten the canvas to the frame on the backside of the panel, so the nails or staples aren't visible. This gives you the great opportunity to use even the sides of the panel as part of the artwork. Finally you are able to present a painting on such a backwards fixed canvas panel even without an additional decorative frame, as it can be seen very often in modern art galleries.

Art material shops provide pairs of stretch nippers, special tools that help to stretch the canvas with a little bit more tractive force and accuracy than it would be possible with the strength of bare hands.

To start stretching, first fasten the centre of the painting ground over all four middle axes of the picture frame. Prepare your working tools, so you can easily reach each of it from all sides. Always remember to stretch the canvas with constant and even tensile force, but avoid to overstretch the material.

Stretch the image centre so tight, that folds in the canvas cannot be seen anymore. But the textile should still allow to give in to pressure. It is extremely important that you do not overstretch the canvas, because all canvas-cloth contracts during the following process of grounding and drying. Canvas-panels that show to tight tensile force, will start to warp the wood-frame diagonally. Warped panels have to be un-stretched and the canvas with the grounding has to be re-stretched on to a new wedge panel, what isn't always successful or professionally looking.

After you have stretched the centre of the panel towards the middle of all four sides you should fix the four corners temporarily with the same tensile force. When doing so, check very carefully the textile structure (warp and weft) to be parallel to the wooden frame. Now the whole square is fixed provisional and you can begin to stretch the canvas from the middle of the first long side towards the corner. Attach the cloth about each 8 cm - 10 cm (3 - 4 inches) and always check for the cloth's structure. Also draw with a little additional force towards the panel corner, where you might have to readjust the first temporary fixing. Next follows the opposite half of this long side, then the other two halves. After both long sides are done start with the short sides in the same order.

Professionally stretch canvas on a wedge panel

Finally pay attention to the temporarily fixed corners of the canvas panel. A final even draw and then fold the canvas as wide as possible to avoid an ugly thick accumulation of cloth at the edge. The more you can spread the overlay of cloth over the corner area, the more professional your stretched canvas panel will appear later.

No matter, if you use rough materials like sack-canvas and thick nettle canvas or thin materials like cotton and raw linen, the procedure of how to professionally stretch cloth on a canvas panel will always be the same. There might only be differences in the tractive force, the different textiles may be able to hold.

Appropriate roll canvas to use for a professional painting ground is raw linen, linen blanket, nettle and cotton with or without linen-optic. To provide a proper grounding will be the next step you have to go, before you can start to paint on your stretched canvas. Professional panels have 2 wedges in each corner to readjust the tensile force, if the canvas of the finished artwork might get wavy after several years.

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Canvas Stretched Professionally