Painted canvas stretching.
March 23, 2005 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to get an already painted canvas "stretched" over a frame?

Many years ago a friend gave me a painting. Her technique did not allow her to stretch the canvas over a wooden frame in the usual manner. I'd now like to display the canvas without it looking like a great big bit of material. It is about 1 1/2 by 2 metres in size, and afaik painted in acrylic. I'd prefer not to have it framed under glass as it would be expensive and probably look crap.
posted by arha to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Yes. Any good frame shop will do that type of work. Make sure that they know what they're doing as unprofessionals can really screw it up. Or, do it yourself.
posted by Juicylicious at 3:40 PM on March 23, 2005

Acrylic paint is pretty flexible. If you can roll the canvas and unroll it without affecting the painted surface, then chances are good that it's acrylic and it'll stretch well.

This site
has a pretty good walk-through in the process or framing/stretching a pre-painted canvas.
posted by pmbuko at 3:41 PM on March 23, 2005

Yes, but it isn't easy. You'll have to build a stretcher the right size and lining up the paint edges with the wooden stretcher is quite a challenge, considering the canvas will have to stretch to fit and be tight enough to look decent.
Pull too much on one side and you're in trouble.

The thicker the paint, the more likely it will be to crack. Hopefully your friend used decent materials. If he/she painted over some weird non-gesso product (house paint for example) then the underpainting won't stretch at the same rate as the painting and you could get cracking, flaking etc.

If you can afford a pro, it's worth it. Or you can continue to appreciate it hanging as a great big piece of material, a la Leon Golub!
posted by Cuke at 9:09 PM on March 23, 2005

Unless it is a very old acrylic painting, or your friend mixed up other chemicals in the paint, it should never crack. Dried acrylic paint is very stretchy and malleable like soft plastic and you shouldn't have a problem stretching it onto a frame. As already noted, building a frame (stretcher) the right size and lining up the canvas correctly will be the hard part, and probably a job for a pro. It shouldn't be expensive though, and if you are on a budget an art shop will probably do it for you rather than taking it to a picture framer or conservator. My local large art store has a canvas guy who does all kind of crazy stuff for me, including stretching pre painted canvas onto stretchers.

You could also stretch it onto a piece of wood. It's the cheap option and leaves you less flexibility in the future, but is simple to do and will be easier to frame and hang.
posted by fire&wings at 4:29 AM on March 24, 2005

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