Artists skilled in trade are called skilled workers. Because of this, great masters would instruct apprentices from start to finish in Renaissance times. An apprentice would be able to see the painting from its beginning as a frame made of wood, through to a canvas stretched and primed, and finally to a rare and valuable relic. This allowed the apprentice to understand and appreciate the effort of creating a finished painting.

Although we may not always be able to bring our students along to each step, we can teach them how we custom stretched canvas. Students are introduced to taking it for granted that art supplies can be purchased online and arrive at their door two days later. Students will see the time and effort of making a painting before any paint touches it. You can make your frames. This is especially true if you take a secondary or advanced painting class. Students can also create custom sizes and shapes.

Sandpaper can be used to smoothen the inside edges of the wood. A router, table saw,, or planer can align the edges at a 45deg angle. This ensures that the wood stretcher frame won’t be visible from the front of the painting. If you skip this step, the wood stretcher frame will be visible from the front of your finished artwork. It will create a distinct line that is hard to conceal.

Measure the length and width you want for your canvas. Cut your 1’’ x 2’’ bars to the dimensions you need. Cut each piece with a miter saw so that it is at a 45° angle. Measure the length sideways to get your measurements. Dry fit your parts. Make sure that the corners meet up at a 90deg angle. You can clamp the 1’’ x 2’’ bars together with clamps or a framing string. You can also place a book or other heavy object on each corner to prevent it from bending. You can wipe off excess glue with an old towel.

If you do not own clamps, glue the brads and miters together. Cut the canvas to 19’x21” if your stretcher is 16x18x18x18. This will allow you to stretch the canvas across the stretcher frame. Once it is in place, place the stretcher frame over the canvas. Pull the edges as tight as you like and staple them onto the back of the stretcher frames. You can use a pair of canvas pliers to stretch the canvas.

You can prime the canvas with a large brush or gesso. After applying a minimum of 2 layers of gesso, wait for 30tes before applying the coat. For more excellent coverage, you can use additional coats. Allow the gesso time to dry completely before applying the paint.

This skill can be taught or learned for personal or professional use. The ability to transfer valuable skills allows students to experience the entire art production process, from the beginning of prepping a material through the final result. Students can easily make custom canvases with just a few materials for a fraction of what it costs. We hope you enjoy this simple process!