There are two valuable lessons that the painting pictured below has taught me that I will never forget.
I painted this painting in 2014 for my group solo (really....what the hell is that anyway?..more on this topic later) and once it was finished, I hung it in my house for storage. Once I got it onto the wall, I noticed the canvas was significantly warped. $@%&#! Lesson number one: Always check your canvases before you bring them home. I'll be the girl in the art store putting everything on the floor and pressing it on all sides right there in the aisle....yep..that's me.
For 2 years I walked past this painting, taking it out of the show, putting it back into the line up... taking it out... wondering how to frame it to get rid of the warp... placing heavy weights on it for weeks at a time...everything. Last week I decided that I wanted to show it... so I needed to fix the warpage...now or never.
I don't have any extra money right now.. especially for a 30x40" custom frame job.. so I searched frames on the internet... I found a canvas floater set for $88..but that seemed risky to me, not to be able to see it in person, the floater was non-refundable. So I then packed the frame into my car for a road trip. I headed to the art supply store to check if they had stretcher bars in stock.... they did.
I've never worked with stretcher bars before, but I thought that since the canvas was already stretched, and the bars that were coming out were the same as the bars that were going in...switch-a-roo...right? Wrong. What a galactic pain in the ass. Especially handling things as one person. Never again. The stretcher bars cost me about $55, and they are very sturdy, USA made, glorious, wood pieces that are even way better than what came with the canvas in the first place. I am happy to report the canvas finally made it into it's new set of bars...and it's flat in the wall, ready for the show.
Now.... if I was stretching raw canvas... yes. I would not be afraid of a set of stretcher bars. But lining a painted canvas back onto bars precisely... it's pretty tough. Which brings me to one more important piece of advice that you should consider when shopping for canvas: Don't buy trimmed canvas. Smaller canvases come trimmed, you cannot re-stretch those. Always make sure your investment pieces are folded over the stretcher bars.