the linen prep..

Interesting what we sometimes get ourselves into. Crazy even. I have always loved using oils on linen - the texture, the give, the quality of the canvas.. In the past I've bought loose pre-primed linen and stretched it by hand, the result being much the same as those pricey canvases available in the art shops.

Then I had a niggle. What if.. (darn those unexpected what ifs..) I bought raw linen, sized it myself, gessoed it myself, stretched it myself, I could then even say I made this work from the very stretchers up!

So this is what actually happened..

1. Bought linen - very excited!
2. Finger stretched it ever so gently, with enough play so that the sizing will not tear it when it dries
3. Applied first coat of size (I used watered down PVA, of the acid free and pH neutral type in 70/30 to water ratio - didn't have the patience or quipment to do the rabbit skin stuff, too lazy to bother!!
4. and this is where things started to go wrong... instead of shrinking and becomming tighter on the bars, the linen was getting looser and making a nice pool in the middle of the canvas - darn!
5. okay then, take out staples, stretch again, apply second coat of size
6. same thing happens! Linen doesn't tighten, it actually gives again! So here goes, off with the staples, stretched it again..
7. On with the third coat of size, it pools in the middle, I pluck off the linen from the stretcher bars, using ever so slightly deteriorating language to express my disdain
8. Nah. Still not as tight as a drum.. so this sister goes researching again and you know what the probable cause is?
9.  twofold: the linen was probably too thin and finely woven and also one should really wash the linen to get rid of the manufacturer's "size" before trying to do anything as drastic as what I've been doing
10. My reminder then:
Choose good thick linen fabric.
Use PVA in 60/40 ratio - two layers should be fine.
Invest in clear gesso and all should be a-okay.

Back to my (thin) uncooperative piece of darned linen and you know what? I washed it this morning, here it is, I'm waiting for it to dry so I can stretch it again and see what happens..

I think I've found the title for this unpainted linen canvas..


PS please please don't make me want to make stretchers bars too, not that, please? LOL


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