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No, I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of building a stretcher frame, mitering the corners, and discussing what sort of pliers or automatic stretching and stapling machine you should use. I want to talk about stretching from the aesthetic point of view and explain the three basic options in stretching your canvas.
There are typically three different methods to stretch your canvas. These methods would be applicable to either a print on canvas, a canvas transfer or an original oil on canvas.
The first is the “Standard Wrap” method. This is where the canvas is stretched with 100% of the image on the front. None of the image is on the sides, and the staples are showing on the sides. This method definitely yells out, “Frame me”. Otherwise, those nasty staples and possibly the ragged edges of the canvas will show on the sides.
The second method is the “Museum Wrapped”. In a “Museum Wrap, ” 100% of the image is showing on the front with the image going right up to the edges, and the plain white canvas is showing on the sides.
In this methoed, the staples are on the back and do not show. The sides are then treated to the owner’s specifications. In many cases, the sides are painted black. In others, the sides are painted some color that is complimentary to the colors in the artwork itself. This should be the stretching method of choice where important elements of the image are run right up to the sides and truncating them by wrapping the image on the sides would compromise the image and the artist’s intentions.
The third method is the “Gallery Wrap”. Here is where the image is stretched around the sides of the stretcher frame and the staples are on the back. The image is taken right up to the back edge of the sides and shows on the sides.
Both the “Gallery” and the “Museum Wrap” lend themselves to be hung with or without a frame. However, if you use the Gallery Wrap and a frame, the image on the sides is lost.
In artwork like the new Rodney White prints on canvas, the different stretching methods become important issues. Rodney White is probably the hottest artist in America right now. His prints are full bleeds, where the image is all the way to the edge of the paper. He also paints words that are already truncated right up to the edge of the image. If you use the Gallery Wrap method, you are going to lose even more of the words that are an important part of his images. Go to [http://www.RodneyWhiteeBay.com] to view his work, and you will easily see what I mean. The “Museum Wrap” should be the stretching method of choice on these prints. It leaves you with the option of framing or hanging it without a frame. Either would work and would not interfere with the image.
In considering seascapes or landscapes, where the image is merely a continuation all the way to the edges, the “Gallery Wrap” is very effective. There are also many images where there is plenty of negative space or an abundance of sky and/or grass where this method is also effective and aesthetically pleasing.
Finally, here’s a little tip on hanging your “Museum or Gallery Wrapped” canvas. You may want to consider hanging it from the stretcher frame itself with no hanger hardware. I like my unframed canvases to hang flush against the wall. I achieve this by putting two nails in the wall about 6 inches apart, making sure I get them level. You can use small a carpenter’s level for this. Then I merely hang the piece on the nails. Use the proper size picture hangers if weight is of a concern. But most unframed canvases are fairly light. Make sure you use two nails so that it will stay level. That also works when hanging artwork with wire hangers on the back.
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Floyd Snyder owned and operated three framing galleries for nearly 20 years. After selling his business in the late 80’s and retiring from a successful career in the stock markets he has returned to the trade he has always loved and missed. He has established his own online store representing some of finest artist in the world at FASGallery.com.
To see samples of each version of stretching by going to FASGallery.com and follow the links to Wall Art, Canvas and view the stretching options.