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How to Stretch a Painting on Canvas

By Jainam ShahAugust, 31 2016Comment

The hardest and the most crucial point comes after the painting i.e. stretching your canvas sheet on your stretcher bar. It is all about the perfect fit. You need to buy the perfect sized stretcher bars with pre-made lips so that your painting fits on it like a glove. Before going into the hows, a little tip: Make sure that your stretcher bar frame is slightly small than your canvas sheet.

Following are the steps that will tell you how to stretch your painting on a canvas:

Step #1

Measure Your Stretcher Bars

With an inch tape or a T-scale, measure the length and width of the stretcher bars. Now, measure your painting and make marks at the back of it so that you have the correct points on which the canvas will be placed.

Step #2

Placing of the Canvas

On a clear surface place some tissues or a sheet so that your painting does not get destroyed when it is flipped over.

Once the painting is face down, place the canvas on top of it. Make sure that the edges of the painting are aligned with the edges of the stretcher bars according to your measurement.

Step #3

Stretching the Canvas

This is the part where you require a steady hand.

  • Once the canvas and painting are aligned, put pressure on the bottom bar of the stretcher and pull the canvas sheet around it
  • Start stapling the length from the middle and then proceed to both ends
  • In order to avoid displacing the painting and the canvas, get up and sit on the other side of the canvas instead of rotating it
  • Grab canvas pliers or normal pliers and hold the other side of the painting. Put pressure on the stretcher bars and stretch the painting with the pliers. Once you believe it is tight enough, grab the staple gun and staple the sides as you did in the first one
  • Repeat this for the width of the canvas and leave the corners

Step #4 

Take care of the corner

 Folding the corners of a canvas is exactly like folding the corners when gift wrapping. However, in a canvas, this process requires more power.

  • Stretch the painting’s corner as hard as you can
  • Pinch the fabric in the form of a triangle
  • Pull tight, lap one over the other and staple three times due to the thickness
  • Repeat the process on all corners

Once your painting is fully stretched, turn it over because now is the moment of truth. Is your painting tight enough or not?

When you tap the middle of the painting, the surface should feel like the base of a drum, tight and bouncy. If you have achieved this tightness then congratulations because you just stretched a painting on a canvas like a pro.

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