Stretching canvas is not really as difficult as most people think it is. Plunge into this article for step-by-step instructions on how to stretch a canvas.

How To Stretch A Canvas

“Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror, or the painter?” So goes a famous question asked by the even more famous Pablo Picasso. To some people, painting really makes for the one reason for their existence on planet earth. If you were to corner one such person and ask him or her Pablo Picasso’s question, he or she would probably choose the painter. This is really because a painting is the best representation of anything animate or inanimate. A painting makes for the artist’s impression on what he or she thinks about what is being painted. Now, don’t you think photography and the mirror are plain boring? Sadly however, while a lot of people can paint pretty well, they are not familiar with the know-how that it takes to stretch a canvas and prepare it for painting. It really is not sufficient for a painter to know just how to paint; a good painter should also know how to put his canvas together. Read on to gain access to step-by-step instructions on how to stretch canvas and get the same ready for painting.

Stretchinging Canvas

You Will Need

  • 4 Stretcher Bars
  • Carpet Tacks
  • Wooden Pins     
  • Small Hammer  
  • L-Shaped Ruler
  • Gesso
  • Gesso Brush
  • Canvas Pliers
  • Scissors to cut the fabric 
  • Begin by joining the stretcher bars together. To fulfill this objective, you will have to fit the groves of the stretcher bars together and ensure that they are well in place. Then proceed to lay the frame on a flat and even surface, preferably a table free of clutter.
  • Get yourself the L-shaped ruler and place it outside the wood frame to make sure the corners of the four stretcher bars are all square.
  • Once you have ensured that all four corners of the stretcher bars are square, push a carpet tack into each corner to prevent the bars from falling off their original structure.
  • Spread out the canvas fabric on your work desk and place the stretcher on top of it. While doing this, make sure you leave 2.5 inches of canvas that separates the end of the canvas from each outside edge of the stretcher bar.
  • You may need some brute force for this step. You will have to pull the edges of the canvas fabric over the stretcher bar and use a carpet tack to keep it in place. You can do this by pulling each side to the opposite side to ultimately ensure that the canvas is evenly distributed.
  • You are in luck; this step will see you ‘taking it easy on yourself, while you can at least’! All you will need to do here is neatly fold the edges of the canvas and then put in place a carpet tack to secure the canvas.
  • Begin this step by removing the four carpet tacks; these will be the ones you used to set up the canvas square.
  • Get yourself some wooden keys and put them into place at each corner of the stretcher. The sharp end of the key should be placed into the lowest opening of each corner. You can gently tap the key with a hammer to help you achieve the aforementioned goal.
  • In a plastic cup, pour around ½ to 1 inch of the gesso. Add water to the cup after taking into consideration the directions that you see at the back of the container. Stir!
  • Wet your brush with water and squeeze it dry before dipping it into the gesso. It is important to squeeze the brush dry because only this can prevent the gesso from sticking to the bristles of the brush.
  • Dip the dry brush into the gesso and apply a coat of the same on the fabric. For the first coat of gesso, paint only in one direction and wait for an hour or so for the gesso to dry.
  • For the second coat of gesso, brush in a direction perpendicular to the first and allow the canvas to ‘rest’ overnight before painting.
  • As far as the brush goes, wash it with soap and water right after you are done with the two coats of gesso.

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