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Repairing Overstretched Canvas Fine Art

Repairing Overstretched Canvas Fine Art
Oh no!  Something has happened and you've stretched out the canvas on your wall art.  Now it has an unsightly bubble.  How do you get rid of it and not damage your artwork?  Never fear.  Cramer Imaging is here to help.

Cramer Imaging's graphic and photograph of before and after fixing overstretched canvas fine art using a fast DYI method

I remember when my mother was complaining about this problem after moving one time.  The boxes in the truck had shifted and a box point had made just such a bubble in one of our family's expensive original oil paintings of a seascape.  She was not happy.  She was afraid it was ruined forever.

Not wanting to give up so easily on such an expensive investment in art, my mom went on a mission to fix the painting.  After some asking around, she learned that you could wet the canvas down, not enough to soak it nor make it drip, but enough so that you knew it was wet.  Then, all she needed to do was to let it dry overnight.  She could repeat the process if she needed to.  Presto!  The unsightly canvas stretch injury was gone and the image was returned to normal.

Cramer Imaging's photographic illustration of how to fix overstretched fine art on canvas using water and a cotton swab
Use something precise to apply water to the affected bubble area.
Fixing overstretched canvas is a lot easier than it sounds.  Check out how to do so right here.

Why Does This Work?


It totally blew me away when I first heard about this trick.  Fixing the art couldn't be that easy.  I didn't believe it would do anything at all.  The proof, however, was in the result.  When it worked, I started wondering why.

It took me a bit when I was younger to figure out why this worked so well.  This works because the drying canvas (which is really just a certain kind of fabric) will shrink.  The canvas was applied to the frame when wet and allowed to dry so it would be taut.  The canvas will still return to being stretched taut on the frame even now.  All it takes is a little water a little time, and a little patience.

Will This Work For Every Art On Canvas?


The answer to this question is no.  It will not work for every piece of art on canvas.  If you will be applying the water directly to a paint or ink which is a water-soluble substance, this trick may not work as hoped.  While it will re-stretch the canvas, it might also dissolve the image and make it run.  This will ruin your artwork.

While most artwork on canvas is not water-based ink or paint, if you happen to have a watercolor on traditional canvas, it should be painted on a white and chalky primer substance called 'gesso.'  This primer protects the paint and will allow you to shrink the canvas back to regular shape using the above technique with no problems.

If you have a water-based ink printed on canvas, then you will probably not be able to use this technique.  Unless you have a portion of the canvas which you are willing to test on, assuming that you might dissolve the ink, then you should not touch your ink on canvas artwork with water just to be safe.