Picture Framing Tips and Techniques

How to Frame Stretched Canvas

By January 26, 2020October 2nd, 2020No Comments

How to Frame Stretched Canvas

How to frame stretched canvas

If you’ve been wondering how to frame stretched canvas, you’re not alone. Stretched canvas presents some unique challenges when it comes to picture framing. This is due largely to the fact that most picture frames are not designed to hold a stack of components more than ¾” thick. Yet canvas stretched on a framework made of stretcher bars (some times called stretcher strips) typically runs from ½” to 2-1/4” thick, which means most frames are not equipped to hold the thickness of a stretched canvas.

To be clear, the frame can actually hold the  canvas, but not without a portion of the stretcher sticking out of the back. If the canvas doesn’t drop fully into the frame, it cannot be secured by driving points into the walls of frame recess to hold it in. So what do you do?

Regular Frames with Off Set Clips

One option is to accept this imperfect state of affairs and secure the canvas in the frame using off set clips. Off set clips are designed to reach up and overlap contents that protrude from the back of a frame. This is a good option whenever the stretched canvas is only marginally thicker than the frame is deep, say ¼” or less. The amount of canvas that protrudes is minimal, is not visible from the front or sides, and permits the framer to choose from a broader selection of frame styles. See our selection of offset clips.

Shadowbox and Canvas Frames

A second option is to go with shadowbox and canvas frames. These frames are deep enough to hold the thickness of stretched canvas. The only drawback is that they are limited in terms of style. Most are flat faced with minimal accents or ornamentation, but we are adding more all the time. See our shadowbox and canvas frames.  See our shadowbox and canvas mouldings.

Floater Frames

For those seeking a little more selection, floater frames may be the right choice. Floater frames are front loading frames that promote the illusion of the canvas floating within the walls of the frame. Floater frames are available in a variety of colors and depths and some even come with subtle design accents but like canvas frames are largely without other ornamentation. See out floater frames.  See our floater mouldings.

Gallery Wraps

The fourth option is to forego the frame altogether and do a gallery wrap. A gallery wrap is canvas stretched on stretcher bars in such a way that part of the image is wrapped around the sides of the stretcher bars. Gallery wraps have the obvious advantage of being cost effective (you forego the cost of the frame) but they have to be planned for to the extent that they must be considered at the time the canvas is stretched on its stretcher bars. What’s more, gallery wraps are commonly associated with contemporary and abstract art and may be stylistically inappropriate for more traditional paintings.

So framing stretched canvas presents an altogether different set of challenges than framing art on paper. Nevertheless, several options do exist to address those challenges. Choose the right one and your canvas will be presented in a way the is pleasing and appropriate.

See the accompanying article: When Does it Make Sense to Stretch Your Own Canvas?

Go to the Department: Canvas and Needlework Supplies


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