Saturday, August 08, 2009

Canvas Picture Framing Tutorial

This is just a basic run through of fitting/framing a stretched canvas in a ready made frame.

My canvas is an 8 inch by 10 inch stretched canvas and the frame is a ready made, deep set frame with glass and a mat. I start by taking out the frame points with some pliers and taking out the glass and mat, which I'll use in another project.

The canvas sits into the frame then I drive framing points in with this tool that has an official name but I call it a point shooter. I put in two points per side.

Then I apply strips of acid free framing double sided tape to all four sides of the frame, otherwise known as ATG. Don't worry about going over the edges because it rubs off easily.

For the backing, I cut out a piece of brown packing paper a bit larger than I'll need. I begin by pressing down on the paper at the top edge of the back of the frame - I like using the longer side first. Then I pull the paper taught down to the bottom edge in the center first, then working out towards the left and the right. I do the same on the sides, starting in the center, working your way out (much like stapling a canvas onto a frame when stretching a canvas). I use my thumb and index finger to burnish the paper over the edge.

For the next stage, there is a cutting tool for this job available so you don't need to handle a blade directly but since I was trained this way when I was 16, this is the way I still like to do it today. I hold the blade between the meat of my thumb and the tip of my index finger, so the bottom of my thumb can be a constant gauge along the side of the frame creating a straight line all the way down. Again, I wouldn't recommend this technique, it's just how I do it. You can use a straight edge/ruler and a box cutter knife for similar results. In the last picture I show how you often get residue of the ATG once you've peeled away the paper. This rubs off easily and balls together like rubber cement when you rub the edge with your thumb.

Next up, I measure about a third of the way down the frame and make a small hole with an awl on either side. I get the screw eye started by hand then turn it the rest of the way into place using the awl.

Picture framing wire goes through the screw eye, pulled back, looped under and over the wire, then woven through the eye again. The wire then gets twisted around several times to really lock it into place (that wire isn't going anywhere now), cut and finished with a bit of tape just so you don't leave any raw pieces of wire that can poke and cut you or the handler of the piece. Pull taught but not TIGHT and do the same on the other side.

Add some bumpons to the bottom so it won't scuff up the wall and voila - you've got a framed canvas!

(If you're framing an oil painting, cut a hole in the backing paper so the canvas can breathe - this piece it is fine as it is).

I hope you enjoyed this simple tutorial of sorts. I'm looking forward to working on more framing projects now that I have the space. If anyone has any picture framing questions, let me know and I'll try my best to answer them. 10+ years in the business and most of the tricks of the trade are still fresh in my mind.


Jennifer Hayes Hugon said...

This is a great tutorial and I will be bookmarking it for reference. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jessica. Basic and simple. - I've learned to make my paintings standard sizes to fit ready made frames. Years ago in college I did not think ahead about framing so my canvases and drawings were many oddball sizes.

Rob Reeves said...

Looks like you and I went to the same framing school. I worked as a framer for a number of years while in my 20's. Your depiction looks step-by-step like the same process I was taught. Even the aul looks the same.



patty a. said...

I framed a lot of counted cross stitch samplers at a frame shop years ago that taught you how to do it yourself. They used glue instead of double stick tape to attach the back paper then they had a fine sanding block that you would rub the edges at an angle to sand thru the paper for a clean edge. It actually worked well - you just had to be careful and not go too far. One other trick they had was in order to get the paper tight, they had a spray a very light fine mist of water on the paper so when it dried it would shrink and therefore be nice and tight. I have been framing some of my son's artwork from high school (he graduated 12 years ago!) and have been even hand cutting the mats. I feel as long as a person does a nice neat job, it will look great framed and hanging on the wall!

Unknown said...

Hi Patty. Oh my, stretching cross stitch was probably my least favorite task when I was framing! Bravo for having the patience! The spray bottle of water trick on the paper backing is a good one I forgot to mention - thank you!

And thanks for stopping by Rob. Wonder how many of us artists had gigs at frame shops? haha lots I'm sure!

Robert said...

its really great!! now i can make my picture frame easily. Thanks. now time to work with my new tools. i got that tools in very cheap rates through hardware and tools coupon. hope this will helpful to all.