Stretching a (very small) Gallery Wrap Canvas

This post falls in sort of a "note to self" category. But I thought it might be useful to someone else as well, and hey, here is as good a place as any to save my notes. In the past couple of weeks I've stretched no fewer than twenty four of my 6" mini canvases. Needless to say, I've got it dialed in fairly well by now. But I realized that I probably have all the tiny canvases that I need (or have time to paint) this year. And I also realized that by next year I might have absolutely no idea how I did them, because I'm like that. Like what, you ask? Worrying? Forgetful? Mildly obsessive? Yes.

So without further ado, here are my notes on stretching tiny gallery wrap canvases. Or any gallery wrap canvases, if you use bigger stuff.

I started with a 6" x 6" x 2" deep canvas stretcher (I have them made by a framing wholesaler), and an 18" square of canvas from which 5-1/4" squares have been removed at the corners. [singlepic id=393 w=250 h=240 float=]When the stretcher is centered on the canvas this leaves about 5/8" from the sides of the stretcher to the cut edges of the corners. [singlepic id=385 w=250 h=240 float=]

Once the canvas is centered, I pull up each side and place one staple in its center, on the back of the stretcher frame, being careful to stretch the fabric as tightly as possible from side to side. [singlepic id=386 w=250 h=240 float=]I pick a side and continue to staple all the way across. [singlepic id=387 w=250 h=240 float=]I then repeat this on the opposite side, again stretching the canvas as tightly as possible. [singlepic id=388 w=250 h=240 float=]After stretching two opposite sides, I then fold the sides of those flaps around the frame and place a staple in each one (4 staples total). This keeps the fabric flat as you fold over the remaining two sides. [singlepic id=389 w=250 h=240 float=]

After completing the first two sides, I trim the fabric on the stapled edges to about 3/4" from the staples to reduce the bulk on the back of the canvas. [singlepic id=390 w=250 h=240 float=]After this is done I pinch together excess fabric at each corner (starting at least 1/4" away from the frame) and trim it off. [singlepic id=391 w=250 h=240 float=]

After this is done it is time to staple the last two sides. I fold up the canvas flaps, using the edge of my scissors to tuck the corner in tightly as I fold the flap under. The edge of the folded flap should run neatly along the corner edge of the frame. [singlepic id=392 w=250 h=240 float=] After folding each edge, I pull the canvas tight and staple the rest of the side to the folded corners. [singlepic id=382 w=250 h=240 float=]

Almost done! Once the sides are completely stapled, I have only to trim the excess fabric near the staples... [singlepic id=383 w=250 h=240 float=] and give the folded fabric at the corners a few good taps with my hammer to "iron" them flat. Voila! The canvases are ready for gesso. [singlepic id=384 w=250 h=240 float=]

Note: you may have noticed in the photo I am wearing gloves. I am not just wearing gloves, I am wearing gloves over other gloves with a band-aid on my middle left top knuckle. If you stretch more than a canvas or two in a day, you will understand why.