Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You think you are ready to stretch? I'm ready to show you!

You’re almost finished!

Phase 3: The Canvas

Tools needed: Canvas, scissors, razor blade, red marker, Canvas Stretching Pliers, Hammer, staple gun with staples, tape measure, and flat-head screw-driver

Cutting the Canvas

First you will want to decide if you want a gallery wrap or not. A gallery wrap is where the canvas stretches around to the back and stapled. The other way is where the canvas is just stretch to the sides and stapled. This way is harder to stretch as the wood frame cannot be laid flat on the floor and canvas pulled around. The gallery wrap is much easier as you can use the back to help brace while you are stretching and attaching the canvas. I find the gallery wrap is not only be easier but, looks much more professional and finished out. That’s just my opinion though. Do what works best for you and your art!

1) Now that you have decided whether you like gallery wrap or wrapped just to the sides. Roll the canvas out enough on the floor to be able to measure and cut it. Remember to always add a little extra canvas to be for sure. If you chose the gallery wrap, you will need extra to go around to the back and attach. EXAMPLE: If your wood frame is 24 inches and the wood used is 1.5 inches, you will need to cut the canvas to at least 28-29 inches. Beginners add a little canvas. If you choose the side wrap, you won’t need as much, because you just need enough to go along the sides to attach.
2) Now that the canvas is cut, place the canvas (side you will be painting on) front side to the floor and position the wood frame evenly on top of the canvas. It is best to measure around so that it is pretty much the same amount of canvas on all sides. TIP* Look at the wood frame and make sure the best side with no holes, knots, or blemishes is face down. You always want the best side touching the canvas. The side that you will be painting should be as perfect as possible.

3) Take your Canvas Stretching Pliers, hammer, and staple gun. Start in the middle of 1 side of the frame and attach the canvas to the wood. Put at least 2-3 staples (or whatever you are using to attach the 2 together) in the center. Then, go to the opposite side and do the same. Here you will need to use the pliers to pull it tight prior to attaching. Next do the other 2 sides using the pliers from now on through the process.
4) Once you have continued to work your way out to the edges, you are now ready to do the corners. TIP* Leave enough room that is not stapled down to do the corners properly. You will want to have to opposite edges that go under the other 2 opposite edges.

5) Go to the edges that will go under the other two and continue to staple them all the way to the end. TIP* If there is too much canvas once you get to the end, you can cut some of it. It will fold better for the corners.

6) Fold the end of the canvas down the side, then fold it over and make the crease as close to the edge without going past. When you are ready to staple it down, take the pliers and pull it as tight as possible before stapling it down. This makes for a much neater corner. If you are having difficulty with this, think of wrapping a present, and do the same. It may be awkward at first and not be exact, however; be patient with yourself and keep working at it. It will get easier and look better the more you do it.

7) Continue to the other side, and the other 2 ends, and WALA you have a completed stretched canvas that you did for a fraction of the cost!

I think I have covered everything, if I have left out anything or you have a different and easier way, please let me know. Any ideas on the topic, I would love to hear them.
I hope this will inspire you creatively as much as it has helped me. I love stretching my own canvases. I find it very meditative and motivating. As always...Enjoy the Process!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What will your frame look like finished?

Ok, the pictures are in. I hope this will help you picture what I am explaining! Here we go!

Phase 2: Building the Frame
Tools Needed: Wood, wood glue, hammer, nails, sand paper, tape measure, red marker

Positioning the wood

What will it look like finished?
Ok, the first step in the phase is placing the wood pieces in the way you want the frame to look.

1. The best way to do this is to find a large area up against a very solid wall and lay the wood pieces in the dimensions and shape of the end product. Place the pieces with the best sides of the wood all facing the same direction. That will be the side that faces the canvas. Tip* Remember to always measure the frame prior to nailing it together. That way you will be sure to nail it together in the dimensions you were making.

2. Put a small amount of wood glue on the piece of wood that is being nailed into the other piece of wood.

3. Take 2 nails and hammer them into the pieces of wood with the glue on it. It is best to nail in a slight diagonal manner. Tip* Make sure the wood stays in a square position and is level & flat throughout the process. I will usually put 1 foot on each piece of wood to help keep it from moving while I hammer. Hammer both sides together, then move it to the back and do the other 2 sides.

4. Once the 4 pieces are nailed together, put in the brace. Measure the side and place the brace or braces (depending on size of canvas) in the middle. EXAMPLE: For a 24inch frame, brace would be at 12inches. For a 60inch canvas, the 2 braces would be at 20inch spaces.

5. Allow the wood glue to dry for 24 hours, then take sand paper and smooth out the corners, seems, and edges.

You’re almost finished! The last step is the canvas. Until next time...Enjoy the process!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tips to picking out your canvas

What width do I purchase the rolled canvas, and from where do I purchase the canvas? Questions that are going through your head, I bet. It can be confusing and overwhelming if you don't know where to begin. Step three in the canvas stretching process is your canvas choice.

As far as the choice of canvas goes, you have either primed or unprimed, as well as, cotton or linen. Primed means that gesso has already been applied. Unprimed means raw canvas with nothing on it. Depending on your project, you’ll need to determine what works best for you. I know of artists that never prime their canvas, however; they rarely use paint. Paint is liquid and will bleed through that is why it needs to be primed prior. I recommend buying a small piece of both primed and unprimed canvas and stretching both and see what you like best. Remember though, that the unprimed will need to be gessoed prior to the actual painting. That is an added step and cost. Once you have chosen which style you prefer then decide whether you like cotton or linen best. I find that cotton works best for me and is always reasonably priced.

Canvas comes in many widths from approximately 52 inches to 144 inches wide and in lengths from 6 yards to 100 yards. The width usually depends on the size of the piece you are going to paint. The bigger you go, the wider it needs to be. I suggest not going too big on your first few till you get the hang of the process. I would recommend going a little smaller in length till you decide what you like work with the best. You don’t want to be stuck with 50 yards on canvas that is hard to stretch.

Now that you have decided on the canvas selection, it is best to buy it in bulk. It is less costly and you will have more freedom. Research your local art shops as they frequently have sales and that is a great opportunity to stock up. I usually purchase it online and have it shipped. For me, it is the most cost effective with the choice and width I prefer. I purchase from Blick Art Materials for all my canvas needs. Dick Blick frequently has sales and a great selection of canvas both primed and unprimed cotton and linen in various widths. It may take time, but you will find what works best for you. Enjoy the process!

Fantastic! Now that you have made all your choices, you are ready to begin the next phase in this process.

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