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Stretching canvas over frame, or how to reuse your old frames

How to stretch your own canvas by Sandrine Pelissier on ARTiful, painting demos
Crafts / Painting technique / Step by step demonstrations

Stretching canvas over frame, or how to reuse your old frames

I had some old paintings in my house that I still like  and am not yet ready to burn yet but as my skills have hopefully been improving since I started painting, I was thinking it would be a good idea to store them as a rolled canvas and reuse the frame for a new painting. It is not the best way to store a painting but a good compromise for those paintings you don’t like so much anymore.

Note: I am not talking about the picture shown up here 🙂

Stretching canvas over frame, or how to reuse your old frames

I did a bit of research on the internet and gave a try a stretching a new canvas with a piece of fabric I had at home. It is actually not very difficult to stretch canvas on a frame and I am posting here pictures of my process and what I learned while doing it.

  • The first step is to remove the staples at the back of your old canvas, nothing difficult here but just be careful not to damage the fabric.
  • Once I removed the canvas I rolled it , it is better to roll it loosely with the paint on the outside so it doesn’t get wrinkled.

Then I did lay out the fabric on my table and did place the frame on top.

I did trace the contour with a pencil, leaving enough fabric to go around the frame.

Cutting the Fabric.

On my first try, I did make the fabric shorter than the with of the frame, even though it is like this on most frames you are buying, I think it looks better if the fabric covers the stretcher completely.

stapling fabric on frame

So, on my second try I made the fabric a bit longer so it covers the stretcher bar completely.

The most important thing to know id to start in the center and work outside and opposites ways. I used a stapler gun and a pair of pliers

Once you did put 2-3 staples in the center of a side, stretch the canvas and staple the opposite side, then do the same on the other sides.

Pulling with the pliers and stapling. The second time I asked my husband to help me, it is way easier to do it when you have one person pulling and one person stapling.

Work you way from the center to the corners, then fold the corners and staple them.

The first time I did fold it like this but it is quite visible.

folding corners on canvas frame

So the second time I did fold it like this.

folding corners on canvas frame

So the second time I did fold it like this.

priming canvas with gesso

The next step is applying gesso on your canvas if you want to.

priming canvas with gesso

After applying gesso.

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Comments (12)

  1. Aron Cikač

    can you strech canvas over old canvas without removing old one

    1. I would either remove the old canvas and stretch a new one, or just paint over the old canvas.

  2. Nancy

    Fantastic! I SOOO appreciate how clearly you described the steps and provided great clear photos!!!! I’m so excited to try this. You rock!!

    1. Thanks Nancy, I am glad you liked the post 🙂

  3. Hi Sandrine, I love all the tutorials you so generously offer. And these tips on reusing stretchers is great. I’m a gouache painter….and I used it more like oils than watercolor…and have just begun experimenting painting on gessoed canvas. And so far so good…still have to complete a piece and varnish it before i declare it a good process.

    I sometimes use my old paper paintings as a collage base for a new painting, sometimes i cut up smaller pieces and make original notecards. Haven’t burned any yet LOL but may have to eventually.

    Blessings to you and your wonderful talent.

    1. Thanks Joanie! Interesting, gouache on gessoed canvas, I looked at your website and really liked your work, very colourful and very personal style.

  4. Hi Sandrin,
    Love your work. I reuse canvas by gessoing over. These are the usually “iffy” paintings that just didn’t make the grade or a style I’m not using any longer. I use a heavy body gesso and walla! New surface. If I happen to paint on paper, it gets recycled into a variety of artwork, or I use for stencils.

    1. Hi Barbara, thanks for reading my blog 🙂
      Recycling is a great way to use your old paintings because they are part of the new painting, in a way they are still there.
      I wonder if you can still apply gesso once the painting has been varnished.

  5. Finally, a blog (yours) that I can relate to! I love it all! I save all my old paintings–the watercolors especially. I cut out my favorite parts and make mini (2 x 3) paintings and small collage boxes, layering all the papers. Thank you, Sandrine, I recognize and admire your paintings through art magazines that I devour.

    1. Hello Kathryn,
      Thanks for your comment! Making mini paintings and small collage boxes is a very creative way to recycle your old paintings. I sometimes incorporate pieces of old drawings or watercolors as collage in a mixed media piece but never thought of cutting them into mini paintings. Great idea!

  6. Hilary

    What a great step by step. Thanks for the photos too…the visual really helps!

    1. Thanks Hilary, I am glad you liked it!

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