If you're new to canvas stretching, stretching a canvas can be a bit of a daunting task. Most stretcher bar suppliers offer no instruction on how to use their product and your mostly just left to the internet to hash your way through a minefield of different information.
One of the main drawbacks for me when I first started canvas stretching was getting used to canvas stretching pliers. Awkward to hold, and in some cases, surprisingly heavy, these oversized bulldog clips lopped around. They'd mostly give me a stretch so unevenly tight, that once one image transformed from a simple picture of Big Ben into some weird Salvador Dali tribute.
Getting even tension across a frame, especially if you are "cut and pinning" your stretcher bars, requires technique and a lot of practise. Smaller frames are relatively simple, however the more you start moving up in size, the more often your tributes to Dali.
One of the main goals when we started Wunderbars was to "automatically" stretch a canvas. Machinery was out of the question. A lot of Photographers and framers work in garages, or out of homes. Sticking a stretching machine on the dining room table may stretch your table cloth over the table well, but it wasn't really our top priority. What we wanted to create was a stretcher bar that could stretch the canvas evenly on its own, that took up little or no space, could be done by anyone and removed the need for pliers.
Wunderbars uses unique spring loaded corner blocks. When you pull a pull pin out from the corner blocks of a Wunderbar stretcher bar, it fires a nylon piston. this spring loaded piston, gently pushes open the corner of the frame. You're stretching the corners, not different parts of the frame/canvas as you would do with stretching pliers. The pressure is relatively equal on the corners, creating a flat, smooth canvas. Free of ripples and as tight as the canvas allows. Basically, you let the bars do the stretching and no pliers required!
One of the best kept secrets of canvas stretching, and a question i'm asked over and over again is "how do I fold canvas corners"?
When I first started stretching canvas, it was the hardest and most elusive aspect of canvas stretching. Do you cut the corner? Do you fold it like a bed sheet? How the heck do people get the fold so straight? I couldn't for the life of me work it out. It was as if people we initiated into a weird "folding club" and I wasn't invited!
However, One day I decided to do what most men refuse to do. I asked someone...
It was like I'd been presented with the golden chalice. The holy grail of canvas stretching. And was I going to share this new found knowledge? Not on your nelly was I. I'd been included in a club that so very few people had been invited. I was the Paul Daniels (I'm not very tall) of the canvas stretchers magic circle. The David Copperfield of Stretching. I was going to practise a magical canvas stretching technique passed down over the ages to only but a chosen few and prove my worth amongst the circle.
I imagined the sly winks and tips of the imaginary Fedora to all of the other canvas stretchers I knew. I could now pass off the "well its quite simple really" comments to all who I demonstrated to. Like some speed Origami Sensei, i'd deftly fold the corner, so fast I'd leave people gasping and scratching at their heads as they tried to unravel the mystery that surrounds that of the corner fold.
However, about five minutes in my fantasy filled corner folding utopia, it struck me. There's no REAL, right or wrong to folding canvas corners. All this time I'd been kidding myself that my neatly folded bed-sheet "hospital" corners were the scourge of the stretching world, where-as all I needed to do, was be shown. My hospital corners were fine. People bought them. No one complained. It was me that never thought that they were "quite right". I needed to find out how to fold them differently, and that's just what I did. I found out. And I practised. I practised until it just became second nature.
Like riding a bike, when you "get it", folding canvas corners is easy. There's no magical way. There's no "Circle of canvas stretchers". People just got shown. People just practised. As long as your customer is happy with the corner folding you've used for for stretching your canvas, then you should be happy with your corner folding.
If you're like me though, if you have a desire to straighten up your corners and learn a new technique this "how to fold canvas corners guide" will let you know how I was taught. I don't cut the corners and never have. I am of the school where stretched canvas's should be fully reversible and cutting someone's highly prized artwork, for me, isn't nice. So if this technique helps you out, next time we meet, give me a tip of your Fedora and a sly wink (a business like sly wink mind, I am married). I may go off into my corner folding utopian state, but at least i'll know i've helped!
Alternatively, just leave a comment and say thanks.......
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Tim Jones is one of the three owners of Wunderbars Limited. He's a little bit (very) obsessed with canvas stretching.