Support Frames / Stretcher Frames
So what is canvas stretching?
Stretcher frames are rectangles that canvas artwork is stretched
over. They are most often wood but can also be aluminium. Our support
frames are made from Tulip wood which gives a great balance between
weight and strength, whilst still being easy to work with. The Tulip
wood we use is kiln dried and naturally resistant to warping. Tulip
naturally has very few knots, which makes it preferable as a support
The Tulip we use is FSC certified. Using materials that are sustainable is important to us.
Our preferred size for a canvas stretcher bar is at least 40mm x
30mm. Using any less than this can give the impression that the artwork
isn’t as substantial, which has a subconscious effect on price
perception. Plus is creates a much more stable, solid structure to
ensure the frame lasts for a long time.
We apply several extra touches to the support frames we make. The
corners are gently softened. This means the canvas won’t rub or show
through a sharp inner edge. We like our frames to look as good from the
back as they do the front.
If the size of the piece is particularly large in any one dimension
we’ll add support struts to the reverse of the frame. This ensures that
the rectangle holds its shape and helps support the corners of the
In commercial environments (as well as with important artwork) we add
a backing board just behind the canvas material. Apart from giving a
sturdier feel this protects the work from accidental punctures. This can
happen with passers by giving an experimental prod if the art is hung
in a public area. This backing board is perfectly flush with the support
frame and is not noticeable from the front. Unless you give the
Canvases were traditionally fixed to the support frame by using
pins/nails along the outside edge. You can notice this on works from
Picasso for example. The modern technique is called “Gallery Wrapping”.
This is where the canvas is fixed onto the stretcher frame from the
reverse, leaving the edges visible and clean. With canvas prints, this
allows mirroring of the image to create a seamless extension that wraps
around the canvas.
There are 3 ways we can use support frames to help you.
1. Print & Stretch
If you have a digital image we can use our HP 62″ Giclée printer to
create a perfect reproduction onto a professional canvas. This image can
then be stretched over our support frame. It can be hung to good effect
as a “bare” canvas. Or a tray frame can be added to complete the look.
Before we print your file you should decide how you want your image to “wrap” around the sides of the canvas support frame.
The three common options are:
Solid Colour Edges
Have a solid colour (black or white usually) on the sides. This would
mean the image terminates exactly at the front facing edge of the
stretcher frame. This is sometimes used to help emphasize a shadow gap
when we add a tray frame to the canvas.
Gallery Wrapping or Mirroring
Alternatively the image itself can wrap around the sides. So we don’t
use up any of your image on the sides it’s usual to “mirror” the image.
This means we replicate the edges of your image to extend the overall
size slightly. The effect is largely unnoticeable as the same patterns,
colours and gradients of the image are continued to create this mirrored
section. This is the preferred option most of the time. Particularly if
you’ll be hanging the canvas without a frame.
The image can be wrapped around the canvas support as-is. This means
the actual image will be wrapping around the sides. It’s a highly image
dependant technique, as you don’t want to “lose” any important aspects
of the art.
2. Stretch Your Canvas
If you have painted or acquired artwork on canvas we can present the
art in the best possible way for you. The canvas artwork can either be
loose/rolled for us to stretch to a frame. Or we can re-stretch work
that’s already on a support frame. Again, an optional frame can be
There are sometimes special considerations needed about the condition of the work…
If the artwork is old, damaged or cracking then stretching will need a few extra steps to ensure a good final product.
If the work is damaged then we may discuss art restoration with you.
What this involves is entirely dependent on the work itself. It can
range from the application of special treatments to expert oil
restoration of areas in the art.
3. Blank, Primed, Pre-Stretched Canvas
There’s a common problem we find with canvas stretcher frames that
come into our workshop. If they’re not created with meticulous attention
to detail they can end up not being square. Even if it’s a few mm off
square it can cause issues during the framing stage. The eye notices
slight differences like this, particularly if you want a 10mm shadow gap
between the tray frame and the canvas. There are solutions to this
problem, but it’s much simpler to start with a perfect square. We can
supply pre-built canvases, pre-primed with gesso, ready for your brush.
Benefits of Our Canvas Frames:
- Giclée printing (if required)
- Tulipwood FSC support frame
- Gallery wrapped corners
- Mirrored Edges
- Support Backing
- Deep 40mm edges
- Premium materials
- Fittings included
- Specialism in oversized work
- A Perfect sprayed gallery finish is available
When Should A Stretched Canvas Be Chosen?
The stretched canvas is an instantly recognised contemporary look
which works well on clean painted walls. It can also be more economical
than other types of framing, simply because you don’t have to have a surrounding frame. It can be hung as a canvas in its own right.
Glazing is not usually applied to canvas works unless the value of
the piece is very high or you’re concerned with damage from UV light.
Acrylic and oil paintings are much more resistant to UV than other types
Also our technique for Giclée printing makes the inks stay perfectly
vivid in sunlight for around 100 years. Because you don’t need glazing
the final product is much lighter. Which means it’s easier to hang and
send by courier. It’s also much more resistant to damage in transit.
When using a backing board to protect from punctures it’s almost
impossible to damage a canvas frame. Finally, no glazing also means that
the art works superbly in bright areas. There will be no reflections or
subtle colour casting of different glazing products.
Stretched canvases are often used by interior designers with stock
images or photographs, as they can be customised to their personal
Stretched canvases are often used with digital art we print for
Property developers, offices & reception areas. Our client’s state
what colours are needed & we suggest pieces to suit. These are then
approved or tweaked & we print the pieces to quality heavyweight
canvas with mirrored edges. We also install the canvases with security
Tray Frames / Baguette Frames
tray frame is normally shaped like a letter “L” and wraps around the
canvas. There is no glass or acrylic used for tray frames. If glazing is
used it becomes a box frame.
Although an “L” shape is the most common we can create almost any
shape you’d like to serve as a tray frame. We’re very comfortable using
any combination of angles and curves to suit your art.
We usually create tray frames from Tulip wood and hand finish them to
compliment the artwork. They can also be made from aluminium but the
finishing options are limited compared to Tulip wood. Most of the wooden
tray frames we created are sprayed to create a modern, seamless finish.
With normal profile construction you can see the joining line at 45
degrees on the corners. The spraying process makes this construction
detail completely invisible.
A shadow gap is the space left between the profile
and the canvas. Adding this feature can help let the art breathe, and
serves the same purpose as mount board in a normal framed picture. This
gap can be any size you require but we usually use somewhere between 0mm
and 20mm. Using a distance of 0mm isn’t redundant as the curving of the
canvas around the stretcher frame does create a visual line break from
the profile and can enhance some types of art.
Tray frames are not just used to frame canvas art. Any work that has
inherent depth and doesn’t require extensive protection can be enhanced
with a tray frame. Thick oil painting on boards, fine detail work on
gesso painted tiles and laser cut artwork are suitable for tray frames.
What are Floating Picture Frames?
Another term sometimes used to refer to tray frames is “floating
frames”. This isn’t a well-established term and can refer to several
different types of framing however. With canvas tray frames the canvas
can appear to float inside the frame which is where the name comes from.
When are tray / floating frames used?
Tray frames are to display & enhance works with depth where no
glazing is required. A frame is desired possibly to link the piece with
other interior design items, or to protect the piece.
A full range
of bespoke sizes & finishes are available for any interior
requirement. One project we undertook was to display a series of 5 tray
frames for steel & plywood fretted art pieces for Susan Laughton
& Ian Turnock. They had been commissioned to produce the set for a
cruise ship. We worked with the artists to meet their deadline and to
exactly match the colour scheme & look that they needed.
Canvas Box Frames
this is similar to a tray frame. The difference between a tray and box
frame is that box frames are glazed and tray frames are open.
The process for constructing a box frame for a canvas is much the
same as a box frame for any other item. You can read full information
about box frames suitable for canvases here.