This week on Twitter Salla @xthesedreamsx gave a fabulous guide to canvas making. Before these tweets got lost I wanted to collate them into a blog post. So here they are. Thank you Salla for generously sharing your wisdom!
1. You can cut your own frames to make them cheaper. I tried it, but now I mostly use ready made ones from a Finnish company. (I found a couple of U.K. suppliers by doing an Internet search for stretcher bars)
2. I use the thickest linen I can find from a regular fabric store. It’s a little more expensive, but works amazingly.
3. Measure the canvas so that you have enough room to stretch it over the frame, so it looks more “professional”.
4. When stretching the canvas I usually start from one of the largest sides. Stretch the material to the “back” of the frame, staple it (8mm staples work best), then turn the frame around and stretch, stapling the opposite side. Repeat with the shorter sides until all sides are properly stapled. On each side the first staple should be made in the middle.
5. The corners are the tricky bits, but you basically just need to fold them as neatly as possible.
6. After you’ve done all the stapling the stretched canvas should sound like a little drum when you hit it.
7. To prime use either gesso mixed with water or wood glue mixed with water. You can also add colour if you wish.
8. The gesso/glue should be put on by first using brush strokes that all go one way, then let it dry. The second layer of brushstrokes should be painted across the first, to make across cross pattern.
9. For a super smooth canvas sand with sandpaper in between the gesso layers.
10. Depending on the thickness of the gesso I use between three and five layers. Alternatively, you can buy ready primed canvas for stretching.