Stretching Yourself 

Canvas StretchingThe last few days have been unusually busy here in High Wycombe, we had an Art and Photography course scheduled which was so over subscribed we had to add an extra framing day last Friday – and that filled up too! We also had a canvas stretching and framing day today which is the subject of this blog.

I have been around for several of the Art and Photography Courses and there is something of a festive air, most of the participants are looking forward to framing their own work, or are so new to the idea of framing that they are all excited about the new experiences. The canvas stretching course was a little different, all the students had some experience of framing and many of them were there because they had specific business needs for the processes involved. There were several from companies who print canvasses and a couple of people working toward the goal of running commercial framing businesses. That is not to say that there was any less enthusiasm or excitement but the atmosphere was quite different, much more businesslike.

Folding CornersThe idea of our canvas stretching course is to teach people to make a frame over which to stretch either a printed canvas or a piece of fabric work like cross stitch or tapestry. The students then make a tray frame, something that looks completely wrong until you see the canvas fitted into it. The real skill is in getting the fabric stretched cleanly over the frame and folding the corners in neatly.

Tray Framed CanvasEach person was asked to bring in two canvases and they quickly set to in making the first stretcher. They used two sorts, pre cut lengths with wedges and two way stretcher made up like a conventional moulding these give a ‘gallery wrap’ with a depth of about 35 or 45 mm – those are where the canvas sits against the wall, frameless. I have not done this myself so I was fascinated to see how it is done. It seems that the crucial thing is to make sure that the frame is square to the picture (or the horizon in the picture) when you start stapling, watching the concentration while this was going on I felt really guilty that I was taking photos, I felt that I might have been distracting them but the results were great, everyone got their canvases nice and tight and flat. The corners are the most challenging, getting them tight and neat requires skill and patience but by the second frame everyone was producing very neat work.

FixingThe final part of the training was fitting one of the canvasses into the tray frame using a neat combination of an eyelet and a screw.

Stretching and framing canvasses is an essential skill for anyone who is involved in framing, it is expected by clients and is a great service to be able to offer. It is also a good thing to be able to offer if you are printing canvasses.

Do look at all the pictures , there is a bit of a laugh to be had at the bottom of the page!

Neat CornersCentreing the picture in the tray frameStretching and staplingFitting eyelets

Stretching and staplingRichard showing us how to saw!