stretching horror stories


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Aug 9, 2003
setauket, ny
Customer comes in and says she has a rolled canvas that she needs to have stretched and framed. I said I don't do stretching. "oh no?" she says, "too bad. This would be a lucrative job. There's more behind it". I say "Hummm, did I say stretching, I meant bending...I don't do any bending, but let me look into the stretching thing." :D
OK so I've read Vivian K.'s book. It doesn't seem too bad, but I thought I'd put a call out for horror stories so I know what I'm really facing.
What kind of customer would try to pressure you into doing something you're not comfortable with?

That, in itself, would send up a red flag.

It's not hard, but there's plenty that can go wrong if the canvas isn't probably prepped before it's used.
...and don't fall for the promise of more work in the future...pie in the sky.
'splain a bit more about the object at hand and we'll try to talk you through it.
Is it oil on canvas, acrylic, Giclee? How old, how long has it been rolled, and was it rolled with the pigment on the outside or the inside?
How big?
Is there sufficient border to wrap the canvas to the back of the stretcher, or just enough to cover the sides?

You can practice on a piece of primed linen, but there are many variables. On the other hand, you gotta start somewhere.
I'll let the experts give you the play-by-play, but one tip I have: Make sure you're working on a very clean surface. If you need to lay the artwork face down... A blob of black putty in the middle of a family portrait doesn't go over very well.

Have fun!
And keep a tight grip on the staple gun. It can make a very deep dent in the canvas if you drop it.
Come on now, it ain't all that hard you guys. Assemble your bars, lay the painting on top of the bars, line it up with the edge of the bars. Make sure the bars are square. Staple the painting at the center of each bar, giving it a fairly good, but not to much pull. You now have a diamond shaped ripple in the painting. Work it out toward the corners. DO NOT OVER STAPLE!!!!

Beginners want to have a staple right next to the last staple they put in, seems to get the funny little ripples out. Do not do it. Keep your staples 3-4 inches apart, this is important. Control the ripples by having the same amount of pull on your canvas as you set the staples.

Do not take the job if the painting is cracked or flaking off the canvas, or the canvas turns out to be an old bed sheet. Make sure it won't tear as you stretch it.

Fedrix puts out a little brochure on the history, manufacture, and stretching of canvas. I have an old copy that they sent to me back in the early 90's but they might have an updated version out now.

It is titled "Artist Canvas, Beyond the Brush" and has a 12 step easy to follow procedure for stretching canvas in the back of the 8 page brochure. You can also get the single sheet "How to Stretch Artist Canvas" by calling or writing to the Fedrix Artist Canvas Co., POB 646, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30246.

Stretching canvas isn't rocket science but it does require some basic knowledge of assembly and proper use of the stretching pliers and staple gun.

Thanks everyone! A little more research and then I going for it.
Like Wally says "gotta start somewhere".
Framerguy: that brochure is very helpful. I viewed it online. Thanks!