Home Made Stretched Canvas

In planning my next project, I decided I wanted to do a large canvas painting.  Put together a sketch of what I wanted to paint and blew it up to a 3 foot by 5 foot size.  Purchased some linen at Walmart for less than $5.00 and planned to use it instead of canvas.

I wanted to purchase a large canvas but when I called the local art store (Michael's) was informed that the size I was requesting cost $99.00.  I explained that I had my own canvas and wondered if they had any stretcher bars.  They do not handle that item and explained that the cost for the bars would be almost as much as the canvas.

That's when I decided to go on YouTube and learn how to make my own canvas.

After watching several videos depicting use of different methods and materials, I knew what I was going to use to make my stretcher bars.  Went to Lowe's and found the pine pieces that cost $3.50 a piece then found a miter box.  What a handy little gadget.  I had never used a miter box but really enjoyed making those 45 degree angles needed for my frame.  

$15.00 miter box

My first 45 degree angle cuts.  

I placed wood glue on the angled cuts then stapled them in place.  I then used screws to secure the wood together.  I measured and cut some support bars and staggered the placement in order to place the screws to secure them in place.  It was really hard working with a frame that is larger than my work table.

Then placed the frame on the linen and stapled the sides onto the frame.  The videos were very helpful on demonstrating how to do the corners which were tricky.

This is the stapled underside of the canvas.

This is the front of the canvas.

I used Mod Podge to seal the edges of the linen to prevent fraying.  I then painted two coats of primer onto the canvas.  Then went to bed.  I had been working on this project for over 8 hours.

Haven't figured out yet how I'm going to place the canvas in order to draw on it and paint on it.  It is going to be a challenge to find just the right position in my small working space.

This 5 foot by 3 foot stretched canvas cost about $20.00, not counting the miter box.

Now that I have the 45 degree angles down pat, I can make my own frames for my completed paintings.  That should be fun.




The project I had in mind when I built this canvas was to paint a map onto it with scrolled borders.  So far, this is what I have done.  

This is a map of what Grande Terre Island looked like when the Privateer Jean Lafitte lived there with the Baratarians around 1805 - 1814.  

I used a pattern I found of this map in an old library book written in 1930 about Jean Lafitte.

I drew the map with the canvas lying flat on the table.  However, I think it will be easier to work on it while on this easel. 

Even though I have enlarged the map to a huge size, it is still hard to make out all of the detail on it.  To do it justice it would have to be double this size.

The next step will be to draw a likeness of Lafitte on the left side and some kind of treasure chest on the right, as well as the scroll around the map.




Got the drawing done and started adding paint to the island.  I dread having to draw the scroll.

Finally got the scroll drawn on and painted the ends of it.  I'll have a hell of a time painting in the body of the scroll.  I should have painted the scroll on the canvas first.  Oh well... 

I'm enjoying this adventure.




I was really anxious about painting Lafitte but he looks pretty good - I think.

Now it's time to paint the inside of the scroll.

I mixed some medium and two colors together and gave it a once over but didn't like the look so I mixed white, yellow, and gold and came up with this color.  Not exactly what I wanted but I'm getting tired of working on this canvas.  It's been two weeks now and I want to move on to something else.

It looks really nice done in sepia.

I read somewhere that if you spray water on the canvas that it will shrink up.  The support bars on the back of the canvas were showing so I wiped the back down with a wet sponge and it did improve the look.

So, that's it.  I'll let it sit for a day or so then brush a sealer on it.  Whew... that was not easy to do and I may have gotten out of my system the desire to paint on a large canvas.


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