Question asked 2017-01-07 13:09:59 ...
Most recent comment 2017-01-07 13:15:00
Industrial and Non-Traditional Products
Studio Tools and Tips
Dear all, I am facing a problem. I am an art reproduction specialist, and until now I have been making all of my canvasses, from stretching on the frame, to prime grounding. I had done only one medallion in my career, and with success. It was longer than stretching a canvas on a square frame, but it wasn't that difficult. There were no folds, and I used tacks. I recently had a new order with a medallion format, and to save myself some time, I tried ordering to a national specialist a handcrafted but ready-made medallion canvas. I was shoked to receive it, first in only a thin cellophane wrap, but worst is, the cloth was stretched with staples, onto the back. Also the staples were put very close to one another, it felt like the number was too much, and they were not regularly applied. As a conservator too, and being aware of the quality of the materials I use, I find this outrageous.
I called the craftman to complain but he assured me during an hour that nobody ever complained, that that's how it's done, never in is career anyone said otherwise, and should I have wanted tacks instead of staples I should have asked. Now, again, this company is specialized in traditional, handcrafted canvasses, and their clients range about all the national museums.
I am lost here, what are your hints on the subject ? Am I to idealist to ask for tacks on a medallion canvas ? He said this would not have allowed to avoid folds entirely, but again, I did one myself with success. What do you think, do museums allow art reproductions to be made in these conditions ? Thank you again for your answers.
Answers and Comments
Many do consider tacks to be superior to staples for stretching canvases. Some of this is tradition but also the possibility of staples crushing or cutting the canvas if they are struck too deeply. If staples are used, only heavy duty staples should be used as they provide a lot of grip to hold hte canvas and are less likely to cut into the canvas. Care should be taken to not drive them deeper than necessary. I consider it best practice to set each staple at a 45 degree angle so that the number of hole made in the canvas in a straight line is cut in half. There are some other great suggestions in this article by a fellow paintings conservator published on Golden's website:
There is also a link to this article in the flexible supports section in our Resources section.
Have you purchased premade, high quality canvases in the recent past? I believe that the use of staples is pretty standard unless one asks specifically for tacks. Perhaps others have a different experience. I may be somewhat out of the loop on this as I have always stretched my own canvasses except when I need something cheap for a non-permanent purpose, like a demonstration.
If this were me and I had an issue with the tack on a canvas that I purchased, I would just add tacks along the outside edge. You could then decide whether you want to keep or remove the staples on the back.
I am not sure what you mean by, "museums allowing art reproductions made under these conditions." I have made many copies of works in major museums in the US. Some museums require a resume and reference letters, some require you to be enrolled in a class associated with the collection, and others are more free with access. None has ever asked me about mt substrate. Now I have made very technical reconstructions of paintings for foundations and museums education department (see examples in our Resources section) and used very exacting and historically representative materials for these reconstructions. This was, however, a choice on my part and not a stipulation of the museum.
Finally, as a conservator yourself, I am wondering if you will be at this year's American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works conference in Chicago. If so perhaps we can get together and talk more about this and reproductions of historical paintings.
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