How to...Stretch A Canvas

How to...Stretch A Canvas

Grace Shu
Mar 5, 2008

This How-To is inspired primarily by a Good Question, so here the request from AT reader Sara: I ordered & received this "Subway Sign" from Pottery Barn, not realizing that it was an unstretched canvas. It came with some tacks for hanging, but I'd like to do something a little more 'classy'. How do you stretch a canvas? Is there another, better way to display this? Thanks!!

[ Photos from Pottery Barn and BarronArts ]

The first time we stretched a canvas was in 9th grade art class, and let's just say that it turned out not-so-taut. In fact, over a few months, it got really saggy. This is probably due to the fact that there was a staple gun involved and everyone wanted to keep their thumbs intact.

Stretching canvases isn't very difficult at all, and there are two tutorials online that are particularly useful: this old school one (complete with black and white photos!) from Rex Art, and a more updated version at wikiHow. A tip: having a very strong friend helps, especially when it comes to pulling the canvas as tight as possible over the stretcher frames. If you're in a predicament like Sara and are stretching thinner fabric, be careful not to stretch too tight to avoid doing any damage to the fabric.

Good luck!

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