All About Buying Unstretched Art

I’m often asked: doesn’t it hurt the art to stretch it after it’s been painted?

And I assure them that it is a very common industry practice for artists to ship large or oversized art unstretched, with the canvas rolled in a tube for safe and affordable shipping, and for the buyer to arrange for either a gallery, a framer, a furniture maker, or a local canvas company to properly re-stretch the art back onto bars for hanging.

Some artists have processes and methods that make their art not eligible for rolling up unstretched and naturally they will advise against it. But my materials and methods allow me to take the canvas off the bars and roll up the art with no harm, using Saatchi’s shipping guidelines as my standard.

There are a few extra inches of canvas all the way around to help the re-stretching process.

I paint with the canvas that is lightly stretched on bars, this allows me to enjoy painting stretched and not struggle to pin large canvases to a wall or a special wall easel.

However, the bars I use to paint on are abnormally deep so I can have plenty of extra canvas for whoever is going to be re-stretching the art. They need enough to grab hold of and pull on when re-stretching. It's too difficult for me to work with canvas on my walls if there is a ton of canvas "bulk" in the back pushing it off the hanger so I have to work with the deep sides, which end up being the backside once re-stretched. 

Because of the depth of these bars, I am not able to sell my work on the original bars, they are simply too bulky and would need to be re-stretched on to 1.5” deep bars.

What happens to the bars, you say? They end up being “recycled” and new canvas is stretched onto them so I  can start a new painting.

Taking the art off the bars and shipping in a hard PVC tube allows me to offer free shipping on these sizes and to ship your art safely with little to no risk of damage. Re-stretching is a relatively lower cost in comparison to their shipping rates and ranges from $50-$250, depending on your area.

Some of my large sizes have been flat-out rejected by shipping services like UPS and FedEx because they have maximum box sizes.

And I have been quoted $1200+ for a box that was 48x48. You can see why I go the rolled up in a tube route for less than $100—it’s a big difference! I’d hate to increase my art’s purchase price or pass on the shipping fee to you in order to cover these high costs.

A VERY BIG IMPORTANT NOTE: I strongly DO NOT recommend stretching your art yourself, please hire a professional and shop around to find someone you trust. Even as an artist who is familiar with the process and have tried on my own in the past, I am not nearly as good as my canvas company.

And speaking of my canvas company, they mostly charge in the range of $75-$150 for re-stretching my size artworks that are over 36”. If you are in the San Diego area, I’d be happy to refer them to you.

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