How to stretch a large canvas – with Corey D’Augustine | IN THE STUDIO

How to stretch a large canvas – with Corey D’Augustine | IN THE STUDIO

So today I’m going to show you
how to stretch a large format canvas. This is a 40 by 40 set of stretcher bars,
and you’ll notice that at this format, I’ve added some cross bars here. The reason for that is to make sure
that the stretcher stays in plane and when you apply pressure to it,
it doesn’t torque. Where the corners would come forward
from the wall, and look rather stupid. I’m using cotton duck canvas here,
cutting a piece that’s 46 by 46. So the stretcher is 40 by 40,
the canvas is 46 by 46, because it has to account for the depth of
the stretcher bar, going over the side. And then I want to be having
a little bit of excess canvas here, on what will be the back of the stretcher
where I’ll be adding staples. So unlike the small canvas where
we stretch that work facedown, we’re now going to be
stretching work face up. So I’m going to slide the stretcher
just underneath the canvas. So the next thing that you want to do, just
like when working with a small canvas, is to make sure that
the canvas is centered over the support, over the stretcher here. And it doesn’t have to be perfect, but
make sure that you have roughly the same amount of canvas hanging
over all of your edges. So the first thing that I’m
going to do is to add a staple now, upward into the reverse
of the stretcher bar. [SOUND] And just as in the small
format canvas, the rule of thumb here, is to always apply tension across
the center of the painting. Another one I put one in there,
now I’m going to be pulling across. Now if you’re really strong, and in
fact for this size canvas I really could do this with my hands, but
certainly for a huge canvas, or if you don’t have a lot of hand strength you
can use a pair of stretcher bar pliers. What’s important to look
at here is the profile which has this little flinch down at the bottom. That’s the end that’s going
to end up rotating down on the side of the stretcher bar
to pull some additional canvas. Now if you do this,
there’s nothing to rotate against. So this is really the active
part of this tool here. You’re going to grab the canvas and then pull
it down using this little flench to roll over. Another thing and
I’m going to just show you here. It’s that sometimes if you just grab
the canvas and you’re really pulling. Especially, let’s say we have
a hundred-inch painting, something like that, monumental size. You may worry about tearing the canvas. So, one thing you can do is
to fold that canvas over. And then grab it two-ply,
two thicknesses of canvas. Either way is fine. This is a very durable cotton duck,
so I’m not worried about that. But if you’re stretching a fine linen or
something, then you may. So I’m grabbing the canvas, I have the
metal right against that stretcher bar. And you can see the tension,
that I’m applying as I pull this under. Now the trick is that you
want to keep that tension there. And then staple directly
behind that tension. So if you see what I’ve done here. I’ve added that staple, not on the
reverse, but on the end of the stretcher bar and I pulled this under
tension before adding that staple. I’ll do the same thing
now with the third side. So one thing you may be wondering is
how far to space these staples and there’s no golden rule for this. In fact, I just use the average
length of one of these canvas pliers. If I put a staple way too far out here,
I’m going to get what’s called scalloping, which are these rolling undulations of
the canvas that are going to be down edge here. Which again, is going to make your
painting look rather poor quality. Well, how far is too far between staples? It depends on the canvas,
it depends on the size of your painting. This is nice because now my staples are
going to be evenly spaced on the sides of the canvas where they might
be visible to the viewer. If the staple doesn’t go in all the way,
you can simply hammer it in. Okay, I’ve turned the canvas over now
to give myself some better access to these corners. And the same principles apply as we
just explored in the small canvas video. In other words, I’ve stapled
completely two opposite edges. Meanwhile, the other two edges, opposites,
I’ve left some space at the corner. In other words, I haven’t put in that last
staple which is going to give me a little bit of space to fold over that
canvas which is what I’ll do now, we fold this around
the wood with your thumb. Pinch that canvas and
then fold it straight back over the top, give us some tension. And then stay put in place for
a couple of staples. And again be sure not to staple over
that 45 degree minor join there that would close your stretcher and
turn it into a strainer. Really no need to do that. Okay, so
the canvas is nicely stretched now. I do have a lot of baggy
extra canvas on the back. So typically what artists will do is
just put a couple staples in to make sure it’s not going to fold back on
itself when you hang in on the wall or add it into a frame or
something like that. Alternatively what you could do is
stretch this again, put a staple in and then remove the staples from the edges
which are no longer holding tension. You would only do that if you
wanted to have clean edges and you didn’t want to look at
all this staples on the edge. In other words you could stretch
the tension on the edge, transfer the tension on the back. And then remove the staples from the edge. I’m not going to do that,
these staples don’t bother me. So I’m simply going to pin down
This baggy canvas on the back. So all the staples are in. Let’s take a look and
see how we’ve done here. Nice square canvas, everything looks good. The edges,
nice evenly spaced staples here and now here is the test, sounds nice. This is the kind of tension that we want. The canvas is nice and tight, so when we
are brushing on it, we are not going to push it down and hit that wood because
we have some good tension here. So large format 40 inch square canvas,
nicely stretched here.

27 Replies to “How to stretch a large canvas – with Corey D’Augustine | IN THE STUDIO”

  1. Hey everyone, tune in this Wednesday, May 17 at 3:30 p.m. EDT for a LIVE Q&A with IN THE STUDIO instructor Corey D'Augustine. Corey will answer questions from previous videos, as well as from the live comments section. Watch live:

  2. Hi Corey. I really enjoy your work and always learn which is a good thing, indeed. Is the instruction for stretching a small canvas video on you tube, also? Many thanks,

  3. Tune in for a live Q&A with Corey on Thursday, September 14 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. He’ll be answering any questions you might have on artists, materials, and techniques. He’ll also be revealing the next episode of IN THE STUDIO to go into production!

  4. Hi, so I've got a roll of already gessoed canvas and its been rolled up for a while, so it already has kind of a waviness to it. I'm experiencing some scalloping even when I'm keeping the staples really close together. Any advice? Thank you!

  5. Hello Corey , I stretched my canvas and primer, was excellent the tension, but after paint on it with oil using spatula the canvas lost the tension , and the surface moves like a jelly. could you give me some tip ?… Thanks!.

  6. Tune in for a live Q&A with Corey on Wednesday, February 7 at 3:00 p.m. EST! He’ll be answering any questions you might have on artists, materials, and techniques.

  7. I've used thumbtacks on the sides as I stretch the canvas, then turned over and stapled on the back. Remove thumbtacks and it just takes a light rub with fingernail to realign the weave. Might not be as tight as yours though…

  8. Thanks for the clear instructions. Question: I was taught to do all sizes face down, with staples on back and have done it that way with canvases up to 60×60 with no issues so far (some are over 20 years old). What is the reason for doing large canvases face up and side staples?

  9. I love the demo but staples visible on the side? Even if you remove them as he suggests at the end, there would be holes on the side. I really don't get it.

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