Picture Framing and Art Preservation/Canvas stretching


I have an oil painting to be stretched on bars.  The canvas has been trimmed to the image leaving no empty or blank canvas to stretch with.  I do not want to loose any off the image.  The canvas is not flat and needs to be seriously stretched to look good and be as flat as possible.  Would you suggest sewing on canvas on the four sides to stretch with?  The artwork is not especially valuable and the appearance of the finished product on the wall is the focus of this project.  Having said that I would like to do it in the most conservation friendly way possible.  I only have about .25 inch to work with on each edge.  I know it is not proper to mount a painted canvas but feel that may be the only solution for best results on a piece I do not believe will have any significance beyond the owner.  I would get a go ahead from the owner before doing anything to the painting.  Thank you for considering my problem and have a good day.

Hi Steve,

Yes, this certainly makes things more difficult, and I have to wonder if people who do things like this to art just don't like framers.

You're on the right track with looking to add extra material to the outside edges so that you have something to work with. This is often done with needlework lacking adequate fabric for stretching. For a canvas though I would be very hesitant to sew material on. With the amount of tension needed to pull a canvas into plane I would worry about the stitches either coming loose or damaging the canvas.

As an alternative to stitching there is a method called strip lining in which strong polyester material is added to the canvas with a specialized adhesive often used by conservators. A colleague of mine by the name of Rob Markoff often teaches classes on doing this, but I'll admit I don't know enough of the particulars to even start to tell you how to do it. At any rate I wouldn't want you to learn on a customer's artwork. If you would like to pursue the strip lining route I would recommend contacting a conservator who specializes in works on canvas.

From your description of the artwork as really only having value to your customer, and the fact that aesthetics are probably more important to him or her than preservation, mounting it to a rigid board may be the most practical and cost-effective option. If you do that, Kooltack (www.kooltack.com) has a board designed for exactly that application. It is a rigid foam board with a thick, aggressive adhesive formulated to hold heavy fabric like canvas.

Whatever you decide to do just discuss the pros and cons of each option so that an informed choice can be made.  

Picture Framing and Art Preservation

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David Lantrip, MCPF, GCF


I can answer questions about all aspects of framing, with special emphasis on preservation framing. Categories of artwork include works of art on paper, needlework, textiles, paintings on canvas and three-dimensional objects. Components of framing includes frames, glass/glazing, mats, mounting, their features and how to select them.


I have been a professional picture framer and educator in the field since 1994, including framing education for a major franchisor encompassing three brands and the Professional Picture Framers Association, and writing and teaching for DECOR Magazine.

Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) > Board member, PPFA > Member, Certification Board > Member, Chapter relations Committee National Society, Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR)

DECOR Magazine, 2005 - 2010 PPFA For Members Only newsletter Member of the PPFA Guidelines task force, assisted in writing PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Paper and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Works of Art on Canvas, and PPFA Guidelines for Framing Textiles and Needlework. Picture Framing Magazine, 2012

Georgia State University, many classes as a student and educator through the Professional Picture Framers Association and DECOR Magazine. Current member of the PPFA guidelines task force and certification board.

Awards and Honors
Earned Certified Picture Framer (CPF) designation in 1996, Master Certified Picture Framer (MCPF) designation in 2004 and Guild Commended Framer (GCF) status in 2008.

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