Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Making a Gallery Wrapped Canvas

There is a lot to be said about painting on canvases bought at an art store...the most important thing being buy it, drag it home and start gessoing to paint. Sorry bad habit, I gesso even pre-gessoed canvas since that is how I was taught years ago and some things are hard to get rid of.
The only draw back to buying pre made canvases is the cost...especially at larger sizes. recently bought 2 36"x36" gallery wrapped canvases at around $110 - $120 for both. Can't remember the exact cost because I was in a state of shock once the cash register stopped ka-chinging. I wanted to do another one at that size so I decided to just make my own canvas.
To make one of these all you need is Canvas, Table Saw, a Chop Saw or Miter-Saw (even a hand operated miter box and saw will work), a Square, Finishing Nails, a Staple Gun (makes it easier but not neccesary). I bought Kiln Dried 2"x4"'s at a Home Depot hardware store. Kiln Dried wood is lighter than green drying wood and won't warp even after you cut it. Pick the straightest ones you find because even kiln dried 2"x4"'s can be slightly warped...sorry, that's the state of wood offered to the public in this day and age. A single 2"x4"x8' will make a 36"x36" canvas.
Sounds like a lot of work??? Go back up and read what I payed for 2 again. I figure this one cost me about maybe $10.00 including canvas and sweat.
First, I cut my wood into 2 - 36" sections. See the rounded edges of the 2"x4"? I cut the wood down the center keeping this rounded edge as the edge that the canvas will lay across providing a smooth surface when stretching.
After cutting the wood down the center I then re-cut above the rounded edge of the 2"x4" at a 15 degree angle. This gives me a bevelled edge so the painting surface of the canvas where it crosses the frame isn't flush with the wood. The canvas is suspended above the wood.
Here you can see the blade of the saw cutting the bevel above the rounded edge of the 2"x4"

This is how the bevel cut looks once the frame is being nailed together.

I used a Chop Saw, a saw which cuts mitered cuts, to cut the angles to join the corners together.

This is how the corner cuts look like when joined. I used stapels to hold them together until I could nail them with finishing nails.

And this is what your frame will look like when it is all nailed together. I cust scraps left over from my original 2"x4" to make the braces in the corner. I used a Square when nailing together to make sure the frame is square in all corners. (A Square is the angled tool in the pic above to make sure all ligns up.)

No more fun left in the garage so now I head into the house t stretch the canvas over the frame. A friend recently gave me a roll of pre-gessoed canvas so I decided to try that. All you do is lay a piece of canvas down that is cut oversized and begin your stretching. Here is that piece before stretching...
There are plenty of stretching tutorials online so I won't go into that here. Here is a shot of the corner fold though.

And after all of that is done you end up with a nice canvas waiting for paint!


Anonymous said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing this Ron, of course now I have to pass this info on to my husband :O) Me & power tools don't get along Ha-Ha! I just love the vinyard painting in your post "Big & Square" You outdid yourself on that one! Gorgeous work! Have a great weekend!


Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Teresa,
Finally painted this one but wish I had stretched the canvas a little tighter. Seemed too loose when painting. I'll do another and really crank down. Thanks for the comments on the vineyard. I learned a lot on that one.
See ya....

Ryan Evans said...

Hi Ron thanks for the step by step!
Haven't tried it myself but share the pain of expensive large store bought canvases. My recent Bass Rock commission was 40 x 40 inches and cost about £40 or ~$80 aaarrrrgggghhhh there goes my profit!!


Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Ryan,
Yeah, I couldn't believe the prices I payed for the first 2 canvases I bought. The very first thing that passed through my mind was of the painters I know who work large ALL THE TIME! What dedication they must have.

It is a little more work to make one but really not a lot of work, took me about 2 hours to make this one and that included the figuring it out in my head time added. I could probably make one now in half the time. I was given a huge roll of pre-gessoed canvas so I'm going to keep using that up. Had to go out and buy canvas pliers because pulling that stuff with just your finger tips is not enough.

I like working with wood so it is actually a fun project besides a hugh money savings at the same time. If you shell out the bucks for a table saw and a miter saw or can borrow one then it is pretty easy stuff to make one yourself. I think it would be better to make up 3 or 4 at the same time since your in the garage anyway. I'll do that the next time. I was going to do that then but couldn't wait to paint! hahahaha. Talk to you later Ryan.

Anonymous said...

thanks ron a lot. i have been looking for this on net for quite some time. have a question . if i want to make a paper poster look like a galery wrappped canvas, how do i do it? i want to blow up one of the photos and my graphic work and can i give the same treatment like the one mentioned above? and what type of paper do u think would go well ?
:)u made my day though

GFM Painting said...

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oil painting on canvas

Unknown said...

Does anyone here know if the back of VICTORIAN canvas had tacks instead of staples?

Ron Guthrie said...

Anonymous....I think the only way to make a poster look like a gallery wrapped canvas would be to take it to a printer to have a Giclee made of it and print it on canvas.

Thanks Wilson!

19026....Staples and the machine used to shoot them was invented in the late 1800's but I doubt any average artist could afford one. My guess is they were still using tacks into the mid 1900's as the industry standard. I don't think staple guns weren't readily available until the 50's.

You might want to check with any major canvas making company to find out when they started using staples.

Abby said...

Thanks a lot for sharing such a good source with all

Ron Guthrie said...

You're welcome a Abby!

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