Artists who work in oil painting or embroidery needlework understand the need for using a quality canvas stretcher. Canvas stretcher bars are used to provide a framework on which the canvas is attached. This allows you to create a very smooth and tight surface with the canvas, making it easier to perform needlework, or to showcase an oil painting. Stretcher bars are the means typically used for stretching the canvas taut.
Stretcher bars should be made out of quality wood with smooth edges that will not rot or warp. Smooth edges that have been slightly rounded on canvas stretcher bars will help to reduce pressure on the edges of the canvas most prone to tearing, and thus can help preserve you are fine artwork. Rot can damage your canvas, causing mold to creep onto the canvas and damage the painted surface. Warped wood used in the production of heavy-duty stretcher bars will cause the surface of the painting to become unevenly stressed, which can also damage the surface of the artwork. The stretcher bars are used together, four at a time, to create what looks like a simple, rectangular-shaped wooden frame. This does not go on the outside of the canvas to border the picture, however.
The artist stretcher bars are put together into the rectangular shape; you can do this yourself, or purchase a canvas stretcher that comes preformed for you. After this, you place your canvas on the canvas stretcher and begin to staple with a staple gun or tack down the canvas to the stretcher bars. It is usually a good idea to place a couple of staples on one side, and then do a few more on the opposite side. By moving around the four edges of the heavy-duty stretcher bars, rather than stapling down an entire side and then moving on to another site, you can ensure that the canvas surface will be completely smooth and taut by the time you get all the way around the canvas and not warped. When you have worked all around the edges of the stretcher bars, you will neatly fold the canvas over the corners to finish it off in the back, and then staple it to secure it.
Once the canvas is attached to the canvas stretcher bars, you can decide what to do with it next. Many times, especially for large pieces, you are done and ready to hang the artwork up for display. This is often what occurs in fine art galleries. If you prefer, however, the artwork is also now ready to be placed in a wooden frame. The choice is entirely up to you and what would look best with your particular piece of art.
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