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MITRA Forum Question Details

Image Picker for Section 0


  • Tacks or staples?ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2019-03-24 17:21:16 ... Most recent comment 2019-03-24 19:53:39
    Flexible Supports

    ​Are either considered to be more ideal in stretching canvas?

    I've used both and find the tacks to be a little more adjustable.  That is to say I can more easily remove and reposition them.  Though one wonders about the impact shock from hitting them in.  On the other hand the staples also seem to go in with quite a "bang".   Not much of a concern with a yet to be primed surface, but what about restretching old paintings?  Could old paint be loosened from the canvas?

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​ ​We have covered most of this question on an earlier thread. Here it is for your perusal

    Additionally, one of our moderators has written a good synopsis of the various pros and cons of the two methods. The link is here

     I will say that as a practicing painter who primed my own canvases, I vastly preferred staples intelligently applied on the back of the stretcher (see the link) and as a painting conservator, I generally use tacks on the sides of the stretcher. Neither are from a worry about dislodging paint. If a painting is that fragile, it requires additional conservation procedures. I should add that I stretch unprimed/unpainted canvases face down and anything with painted imagery face up. The latter is far more difficult but is necessary for ethical conservation.

    Brian Baade
    2019-03-24 19:19:21
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Additionally, there is an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) bias that tacks on the side of the stretcher are better than staples. I believe that much of this opinion comes from disasters resulting from staples driven too deeply (the bottom of the staple should not countersink the surface of the canvas) and a failure to set the staples at a 90 degree angle rather than parallel to each other. As a painting conservator, I have also seen innumerable cases where tacks were driven too deep and the canvas has pulled loose from the stretcher.

    I generally go with staples if on the back of the stretcher and tacks of on the sides.

    Brian Baade
    2019-03-24 19:53:39
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    OK finally, finally. One of the tricks were use in painting conservation is to use a hole punch to punch out small circles of high quality blotter paper and push the tack through this before using it to attach the canvas to the stretcher. This makes it far less likely that the tack will be driven too deep into the canvas and cause a potential puncture. I know that some conservators and a couple of painters will staple their canvases through linen twill tape for the same precaution.

    Brian Baade
    2019-03-24 19:58:52
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thank you very much, that's quite helpful.

    2019-03-24 22:43:17

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