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Thread: Hand Stretching a large giclee

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    Default Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Hi,

    This afternoon I tried hand stretching a 50x30" giclee canvas. Didn't come out so well. I have vertical ripples (up and down on the 30" height):

    ripples.jpg

    I've been doing others, up to 20x30 with no problem. I use Breathing Color's "Stretch Relief" plyers, although I believe they also go by the name "Pitbull".

    I usually do the long (in this case the horizontal) sides first. I tack one side with a few staples just to set it in place, then use the Pitbull, starting from the middle and working my way to one side and the back from the middle to the other. I'm using a hand staple-gun and put the staples about an inch apart. I go back to the first side, remove the ''tacks" and then start again from the middle with the Pitbulls and work my way to the sides again.

    I then fold my corners, cut away excess canvas and then, starting from the middle again, stretch one way and then the other, stapling as I go with a few extra staples on the corner fold. Flip to the other end and repeat.

    Any ideas on how I can improve on this?
    Mike Guilbault
    www.MGphotography.com
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    Hail to the CHIEF shayla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Is the canvas you're working with different than those you've done before?
    At our shop, whereas the guy who usually makes our prints uses great canvas
    that stretches well, another photographer uses a stretchy, almost plasticized
    canvas that's a real pain to work with. Plus, it keeps on relaxing even after a
    good initial result. Just curious...
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Same canvas I always use. Breathing Color 'Lyve' and coated with BC's 'Timeless'.
    Mike Guilbault
    www.MGphotography.com

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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    I just did a 6' x 8' canvas and a 24" x 150" one.

    My method is similar to yours.
    I use a pneumatic staple gun versus a hand or electric one. Much easier on the hands.

    I center the piece on the bars.
    I staple the middle on one of the long sides. Then I stretch and staple the middle on the other long side.
    I do the same in the middle of the short sides. Just a couple of staples in the middle of each side to start.
    I then pull and stretch the canvas towards each corner, pulling the short and long sides to the corners and I put in temporary staples in the corners. 2 staples in each corner, 1 on each long side corner and 1 in each short side corner.
    This will put tension towards the corners.
    I shoot them part way in so they're easy to remove later.

    Then I stretch from the middle to the corner, usually starting on the long side.
    As you stretch, try to pull towards the corners as well.
    I have found this very effective on the larger pieces that I have worked on.
    I don't fold the corners until the very last thing. I pull out the 8 temporary staples and fold over and staple all 4 corners. I then clean up the back. I never cut a "real" canvas and I try to never even cut a giclee.

    I also always stretch with the canvas standing up, not lying on the table to keep the canvas from sagging.
    This also gives me better leverage with the pliers to get good tension.
    I stand on the work table if I have to. I have also climbed up on a ladder to stretch a really large piece.
    I put pads on the floor to protect the sides from damage or dirt.

    Good luck on your stretching.
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    I was wondering about that, putting a staple in the short sides before the actual stretching of the long sides - just to give some sideways tension, which I assume on these larger pieces is more critical. I did the corner folds before stapling the ends - just folding, not stapling though, so as I stretch and staple from the middle to the ends I end up stapling the corner folds at the same time.

    OH.. and what do you mean that you "never cut a "real" canvas and I try to never even cut a giclee"? Are you talking about the corners? I find the corners too bulky if I don't cut some of the extra material off.
    Mike Guilbault
    www.MGphotography.com

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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Are you stapling one side at a time or stapling from the center of each side ( a little at a time) and then rotating the piece and going on to the next size until all sides are completely stapled?

    Taking out a few staples to the the fabric "Equalize" and then restapling can be your answer.
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    I would assume you have one but...does your stretcher bar have a cross brace?
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Quote Originally Posted by Artistic Framer View Post
    I would assume you have one but...does your stretcher bar have a cross brace?
    That and is the strainer bar perfectly straight? If it bows inwards at all that could cause that kind of ripple.

    Another option is to go with a keyed (real) stretcher bar, not a strainer.
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Good to mention that. We brace the heck out of ours, but not everyone does.
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Keyable stretchers are a must for me, I find giclee generally better not to stretch too much and then just key them out. If you wish to avoid bulky corners you can score with a utility knife a triangle and remove a 1/16 in the stretcher to fit the bulk canvas into.

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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    My method is the same as neilframer's. Even on large pieces, I don't get these pesky ripples. The most common cause of those ripples even if you do it "right" is having the long sides bow, so I brace anything above 24". On smaller pieces I make corner braces so I don't have to fuss with exact measurements, but for larger ones, a cross-brace is a must.

    In your case I would try to undo a corner where the ripples are closest and try again, making sure to pull towards the corner as well. Sometimes that does the trick rather than having to redo the whole thing.
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Quote Originally Posted by Artistic Framer View Post
    I would assume you have one but...does your stretcher bar have a cross brace?
    This particular one doesn't. But that could be the problem. Unfortunately I cut away the excess canvas before discovering the ripples so I have no where to grip it. I've printed another one and will try again next week.

    I get my stretchers pre-made to size by my wholesaler but this didn't come with a brace. I assumed that if it needed one they would add it, but maybe not. I'll have to check with them. If I was to add one myself, what would be the best method?
    Mike Guilbault
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    It looked to me in your picture that the ripples were in the middle of the long side but the direction of the ripples indicated a lack of tension horizontally and not vertically.

    Center braces are usually placed in the center of the long side to prevent bowing in the middle.
    Your ripples appear to be caused by lack of tension in the other direction.
    You should have a brace in the center of the long side, but I don't believe that this is your main problem.

    Measure the stretched canvas and see if the ends and the center are the same measurement.
    For a center brace, I make the stretcher frame and then add a bar in the center by measuring the inside bar measurement at each end and then I cut a bar to that dimension and put it in the middle, mainly just on the long side.

    For your size, just one center bar on the long side would be fine if your bars are the right size for the piece.
    You want the center bar to be recessed from the front of the canvas by at least 1/8" and 1/4" is even better.

    The 24" x 150" canvas that I stretched this week had multiple braces on the long side and almost looked like a home made ladder because of the size.

    As far as cutting the canvas, as I mentioned in an earlier post, don't cut them.
    We have an original Australian aboriginal canvas in our shop right now that was cut in the corners when stretched by another shop.
    This could wind up in the court system costing the other shop at least $1000 for restoration, repair or possible replacement.

    Never cut an original, and if you have to cut a giclee, get written permission before you do it, but it's better to just not cut them ever.
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeGuilbault View Post
    This particular one doesn't. But that could be the problem. Unfortunately I cut away the excess canvas before discovering the ripples so I have no where to grip it. I've printed another one and will try again next week.

    I get my stretchers pre-made to size by my wholesaler but this didn't come with a brace. I assumed that if it needed one they would add it, but maybe not. I'll have to check with them. If I was to add one myself, what would be the best method?
    Mike: if your wholesaler is Wallacks, they also sell centre braces.

    I learned long ago not to cut away excess canvas. Staple it neatly to the back.
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Quote Originally Posted by neilframer View Post
    I just did a 6' x 8' canvas and a 24" x 150" one.

    My method is similar to yours.
    I use a pneumatic staple gun versus a hand or electric one. Much easier on the hands.

    I center the piece on the bars.
    I staple the middle on one of the long sides. Then I stretch and staple the middle on the other long side.
    I do the same in the middle of the short sides. Just a couple of staples in the middle of each side to start.
    I then pull and stretch the canvas towards each corner, pulling the short and long sides to the corners and I put in temporary staples in the corners. 2 staples in each corner, 1 on each long side corner and 1 in each short side corner.
    This will put tension towards the corners.
    I shoot them part way in so they're easy to remove later.

    Then I stretch from the middle to the corner, usually starting on the long side.
    As you stretch, try to pull towards the corners as well.
    I have found this very effective on the larger pieces that I have worked on.
    I don't fold the corners until the very last thing. I pull out the 8 temporary staples and fold over and staple all 4 corners. I then clean up the back. I never cut a "real" canvas and I try to never even cut a giclee.

    I also always stretch with the canvas standing up, not lying on the table to keep the canvas from sagging.
    This also gives me better leverage with the pliers to get good tension.
    I stand on the work table if I have to. I have also climbed up on a ladder to stretch a really large piece.
    I put pads on the floor to protect the sides from damage or dirt.

    Good luck on your stretching.
    I do it exactly as neilframer, figured out trial & error, after stretching 1000's of canvases.
    Only one little note, and this might seem trivial, but sometimes makes a difference:-
    -On your very first staples I usually do 2-3 per side center, not side by side, but rather one behind the other. Otherwise this can sometimes cause riplles (as you are stapling "loose" canvas).
    Also, another tip - I stretch with canvas face down, and on larger pieces, I use large sheet of clean foam, which allows me to "spin" entire package, rather than walk around table, as I move from side to opposite side. This also helps prevent scratching of artwork.

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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Quote Originally Posted by neilframer View Post
    As far as cutting the canvas, as I mentioned in an earlier post, don't cut them.
    We have an original Australian aboriginal canvas in our shop right now that was cut in the corners when stretched by another shop.
    This could wind up in the court system costing the other shop at least $1000 for restoration, repair or possible replacement.

    Never cut an original, and if you have to cut a giclee, get written permission before you do it, but it's better to just not cut them ever.
    So I assume when you say 'cutting the canvas', you're referring to the corner folds. For now, I only stretch my own canvases, or ones I print for other photographers so not dealing with 'original art' from other artists. But that's a good point and I'll be sure to keep that in mind if it comes up.
    Mike Guilbault
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    Question Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Quote Originally Posted by neilframer View Post
    Measure the stretched canvas and see if the ends and the center are the same measurement.
    For a center brace, I make the stretcher frame and then add a bar in the center by measuring the inside bar measurement at each end and then I cut a bar to that dimension and put it in the middle, mainly just on the long side.

    For your size, just one center bar on the long side would be fine if your bars are the right size for the piece.
    You want the center bar to be recessed from the front of the canvas by at least 1/8" and 1/4" is even better.
    Good point about measuring at each end. How do you attach the the center bar to the main stretcher?
    Mike Guilbault
    www.MGphotography.com

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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeGuilbault View Post
    Good point about measuring at each end. How do you attach the the center bar to the main stretcher?
    A little dab of corner weld at each end of the center bar and about 3 staples at each end where it touches the stretcher.
    You can get fancy if you want and use mending plates, etc. but with the tension of the stretched canvas it's not going anywhere on a piece the size that you're stretching.
    It's just there to prevent bowing in the center.

    On really large pieces I might use multiple cross bars and even 45 degree angle bars in the corners.
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Thanks neilframer... and everyone else for the tips.
    Mike Guilbault
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    I never cut off excess canvas, when the stretching is complete. Fold it over the back and staple it in place.

    It would have saved you printing another one if you hadn't removed the excess!
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    That's true, however, I don't like the look of the extra canvas that's loose on the back. From now on I'll flip the canvas and check it before trimming though!

    I usually trim the excess canvas that hangs past the stretcher bar and then use a book-binding fabric tape to cover the staples and hide the edge of the canvas. Usually there's enough tape to wrap it down the inside of the stretcher bar a little to give a nice clean finish to the back.

    How do you finish off the back of the canvas?
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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    It's always good to staple a rigid substrate to the back of your bars...this not only creates a 'dead air space' which inhibits potential temperature fluctuation, vibration, and loosening of the canvas, but it helps prevent against punctures from behind as well. This is true if you are doing either a gallery wrap or a framed canvas. At my shop we use artcare foam board usually for framed pieces, cut slightly smaller than the outer edge of the bars and stapled directly to them. For gallery wrapped pieces matboard works, a color or colored core that is inconspicuous against the edge of the art or against the wall

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    Default Re: Hand Stretching a large giclee

    Quote Originally Posted by Hatter View Post
    It's always good to staple a rigid substrate to the back of your bars...this not only creates a 'dead air space' which inhibits potential temperature fluctuation, vibration, and loosening of the canvas, but it helps prevent against punctures from behind as well. This is true if you are doing either a gallery wrap or a framed canvas. At my shop we use artcare foam board usually for framed pieces, cut slightly smaller than the outer edge of the bars and stapled directly to them. For gallery wrapped pieces matboard works, a color or colored core that is inconspicuous against the edge of the art or against the wall
    I second this. I always staple in a piece of matboard to the stretcher bars, or if I have to use offset clips to attach the bars to the frame, I use whatever size that allows me to accept the bars and the board together. For gallery-wrapped pieces I bevel the edges of the matboard.
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