Stretching Oil Paintings with Heat?


May 26, 2004
Brandon, MS
Brown’s Framing & Fine Art
We have a customer who has several very expensive oil paintings. She had a couple stretched at another local framer & was very unhappy. They wrapped more that a couple of inches of the image around the back on the strainer-stock & cracked the paint.

To make a long story short, she asked us about heating the canvas before/while stretching to prevent cracking. Of course, I assured her we did (not knowing anything about it LOL).

Any tips about heating an oil painting before stretching?

Shannon Ryle
Waltman Originals
Byram, MS
Sounds to me as if the canvas(es) should each be lined onto a fresh canvas. But I am sure that you should seek a more on-the-spot and experienced conservator in this case. The lady seems unhappy so why not cheer her up a little and find her a "Specialist with experience of solving this type of problem". She might even think about suggesting to the perpetrators of this crime that they could consider paying the bill.
Yeah, but did she mention that she told the other framer that she "didn't want to spend much" and had it put into a readymade size so she could buy the frame at a crafts store chain? Hmmm?
Perhaps your customer went into the "perpetrators shop" with the idea of not framing the paintings. Perhaps your customer asked that the painting be stapled on the back, so that the staples would not show. It is even possible that the other shop or "perpetrators" in this case, told your customer she would lose part of the image if she stretched her paintings this way.

Without talking to the other shop, you have no way of knowing what your customer ordered from the "perpetrator". Her latest suggestion to heat the canvas while stretching will probably turn you into a "perpetrator" as well, when she goes to the next shop to have your work corrected.

I have had customers tell me to staple on the back, I have made them sign a permission form to do it, then seen the look of total dismay on their faces when the picked up the job. They understood completely that they would lose part of the image, yet they insisted it be done. That type of customer falls under the heading of, " You can always tell an expert, you just can't tell em much."

I do know this, it is a lot easier to stretch a canvas with a side staple than it is to staple on the back. I can not imagen a frame shop doing that unless the customer ordered it in the first place. Alan was correct, send her to a conservator, you will be a lot better off.

Try the Upper Midwest Conservation Association in Minneapolis. 612 870 3120

If they are too far for your client to use, they may be able to refer them to a closer paintings conservator.