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220 S. Wabash Ave. Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 431-9588
Stretching An Oversize Canvas for Exhibition at Woman Made Gallery

We received an inquiry from an artist on the East Coast, Christine Soccio, about stretching a very large painting for an exhibition in Chicago in which she was participating. It was simpler and cheaper to send the canvas to us rolled up and stretched locally than to box and crate it fully stretched and then ship it by truck. Very wise. The canvas was vertical, 4 feet wide and 11 feet tall. We agreed to help her by stretching it and shipping it to Woman Made Gallery at 685 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago.

We used heavy duty stretcher bars, three wooden crossbars, with one of them primarily for the purpose of attaching an aluminum z-bar hanging cleat. For those of you who want to work this large, here is a suggestion:  Use a heavy duty canvas that is 10 to 12 ounces in weight, not the 7 oz. cotton that Christine used. While we were able to stretch it without any problem, it was not stretched as tightly as we would have liked to, since we were afraid it would tear when pulling it from the short ends very tightly. Heavy weight canvas does not have that problem. Still, it turned out just fine.

Canvas stretched by shop manager Dana L. Fisher, MCPF
Stretcher design, project management and photos by Brian D. Flax, CPF
Image of canvas shown by kind permission of the artist, Christine Soccio.

We use a pneumatic stapler, space the staples out about 2-3" apart and put them on an angle so that they do not follow the grain of the wood.
Here is where we added the aluminum "Z" bar cleat. An identical cleat gets attached to the wall and they lock together when facing each other.

The canvas is vertical and our ceiling height in the basement workshop at 32 E. Adams was not tall enough to stand it fully upright.
The extra cross bar was added to attach the aluminum z-bar cleat for hanging.
We used Richeson adjustable corner braces to give the corners stability. We could have, also, used fixed wooden 45 degree corner braces.