Friday, September 28, 2007

Stretching canvas

In today's mail (snail) came Just Paint, Golden's newsletter. It featured an article about stretching canvas, from the corners in, with pictures. Here's a link:
(No pics online?)

Over the years I have become more careful about supports, even though (knock wood) I've yet to have a real failure. One of the things I've managed in the past couple of weeks in spite of this bronchitis that's hanging on is to stretch a few canvases, working in the traditional way from the centers and spinning it, tacking as I go. Then I sized them with rabbitskin glue, and after it dried, as it turned out, almost completely restretched the canvases (it usually turns out that way--I blame it on the humidity). The cheap Polish linen from Jerry's Artarama bagged and sagged unevenly, as though the manufacturing sizing hadn't completely washed out, whereas the Utrecht 66J (my favorite fine portrait linen) sagged quite evenly, needing to be merely tightened (which still involved pulling all the tacks and doing it over). With both linens I was careful to identify the straight grain--thanks to Miss Morrison, who in junior high Home Ec taught me almost everything I needed to know about working with cloth: not just how to run a sewing machine, but how to maintain it; how to alter a pattern to fit; which fabric worked with which styles... The bright yellow "slacks" I constructed for my oatmeal cookie butt were not her choice, but goddamn they fit. Sorry, I digress. My point is that I have always been careful, I'm not stupid about fabric, I use heavy-duty stretchers with quite a proud lip--and still I restretch. My painter friends think I'm some kind of dinosaur because I use tacks rather than a staple gun, but aside from the fact that a tack hammer is easier on my increasingly fragile wrists, it's way simpler to pull tacks when you adjust the canvas.

I've read the Cennini Forum for several years, where I've picked up some very useful information and been exposed to, let's say, some very odd attitudes. Stretching canvas is a subject that comes up often, and the moderator and owner of the forum has been reticent with advice, promising a DVD on the subject soon, with repeated warnings that everything you know is wrong. (Lot of help that is to artists who have to keep working, hoping that what they know is good enough.) I wonder if James Bernstein, in this article, has stepped on Rob Howard's lines. I'm eager to try Bernstein's method.


pursuitist said...

Miss Morison should stay (your public has spoken)

JC said...

It's so nice to have a public!