Love Your Canvases

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welcome_pictureThere is nothing more disheartening than painting on a canvas only to discover that it has moved, warped or gone saggy. To keep your canvas in tip top condition try following our handy list of hints and tips.


To prevent warping, try not to keep your canvases:

- In damp conditions

- In a position near a heat source such as a radiator (or dry them next to)

- In direct sunlight

- In regularly changing environmental conditions (wood and canvas take on and give off moisture absorbed from the atmosphere)


To prevent dents and sagging of the canvas:

- Choose a suitable weight of canvas for your working methods

- Work on & store the canvas in a vertical position

- Avoid leaning objects against the surface of the canvas

- Protect your canvases with card or bubble wrap whilst in storage


If your canvas is dented or saggy you can:

-  Remove small dents with warm water applied the back of the canvas with a decorating brush or spray

-  Apply the supplied wedges by gently tapping into the corner holes until the canvas is nice and tight.


If your canvas isn’t a perfect square or rectangle any more:

-  Lay your canvas flat, face down on a protective cloth or piece of bubble wrap. Use a tape measure to measure the distance from corner to corner, the distance from each set of diagonally opposing corners should be the same, if it isn’t, gently tap the corner with a rubber or velvet mallet until the measurements match (you may need to retention the canvas after doing this)


Wedges (Keys) wedges 1

With each canvas or stretcher frame order you should have been supplied with a bag of wooden wedges. Wedges or keys as they are sometimes known are used to retention you canvas during or after painting. Use a small hammer to tap the wedges into the holes on the inside corners of you canvas or frame, see diagrams below.

wedges2     wedges3

Two wedges should be applied to each corner and one wedge where the cross brace meets the inside of the stretcher. Take care not to over tighten your canvas.


You only need to use the wedges if your canvas has become saggy. Remember to pass the wedges on with your canvas when you sell it.

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  1. Stephen Munslow

    Excuse my pedantry, but I think re-tension is what you have in mind, not "retention". Retention is retaining something.

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