Canvas prints offer a unique texture and a certain richness that no other print media can come close to matching. The standout effect it has on all types of prints has given rise to its popularity. Artists know a thing or two about getting their artwork looking its finest on canvas, but for the consumer, not all are aware of the different types of canvas prints, and the work that’s involved in getting it ready for display.
The two types of canvas prints
Canvas prints are sold as one of two types; a stretched canvas print, or a rolled canvas print. For artists who do their painting directly on the canvas, it is likely that they will be working with stretcher bars, then removing them to ship the rolled canvas in a tube, rather than combined with the stretcher bars. This saves on shipping costs.
It will be more affordable upfront to buy the rolled canvas, but the downside is that it involves both cost and effort to stretch the canvas. Usually, when all costs are considered from the buyer’s perspective, it makes sense to buy a stretched canvas. The only time it doesn’t is if you have experience stretching canvas, as that takes some practice to get right.
When you purchase a stretched canvas, you actually get more than you bargained for because included with a good quality stretched canvas is a little bag of wedges; usually eight of them. These are to be used to adjust the tension anytime the canvas slackens.
A lot of customers are surprised to find what looks like a little bag of wood off-cuts shipped with their canvas print, sometimes, thinking they were shipped in error and toss them in the bin. Canvas wedges or canvas keys should never be tossed out. At the very least, store them behind the canvas because they will be required at some point. Any time the canvas slackens, or a crease begins to appear, the canvas keys can be tapped into the stretcher bars to almost instantly remove any kinks in the canvas.
A stretched canvas print is not a framed canvas
The point of stretching the canvas over stretchers is to make it presentable. The tension is what makes the texture stand out, adding to the grandeur of the art.
The stretcher bars can be concealed to the back of the canvas, and if the piece has a gallery wrap, the art will be visible around the edges too. These can be displayed as it is without any framing. The stretcher bars are the only support structure required to display a canvas print.
There are certain pieces that despite being printed or painted directly on canvas, when hung on display, can still look incomplete. In those instances, it is possible to frame these in what is called a canvas floating frame.
These differ from standard picture frames in that they are designed to have a shadow gap to give the illusion of the art floating inside the frame. And, since canvas does not need glazing, a canvas floating frame remains unglazed, keeping the entire piece lightweight and the texture of the canvas visible.