Canvas Cloth: The Essential Utility Fabric

It is also commonly used by artists as a painting surface, usually stretched across a wooden frame. Canvas cloth is also used in designing fashion objects such as handbags and shoes.

What are the physical characteristics of the canvas?

Modern canvas is generally made of cotton or linen, even though historically it was prepared from hemp.  The term duck is derived from the Dutch word for cloth, work. In the U.S., the canvas is measured in two ways: by weight (ounces per square yard) and by a graded number system. The numbers run in reverse of the weight, thus a number 10 canvas is lighter than number 4.

How does Canvas help in Painting?

Canvas has become the most common support source for oil painting. The Venetian sail canvas was the most readily available and regarded as the best quality.

A canvas may be coated with gesso before it is to be used; this is to prevent oil paint from coming into direct contact with the canvas fibers. This will eventually cause the canvas to decay. A traditional and flexible chalk gesso consist of lead carbonate and linseed oil, applied over a rabbit skin glue ground.

Previously, canvas was made of linen, a sturdy brownish fabric of considerable strength. Linen is especially suitable for the use of oil paint. In the early 20th century, cotton canvas cloth, often referred to as “cotton duck”, came into use. Cotton duck stretches more fully and has an even, mechanical weave that provides a more economical alternative. The advent of acrylic paint has immensely increased the popularity and use of cotton duck canvas. Linen and cotton originate from two completely different plants, the flax plant and the cotton plant.

Canvas as a compound agent

Canvas can also be used as a covering layer on pavise shields. The canvas is covered with multiple layers of gesso and is often richly painted in the tempera technique. Finally, the surface is sealed with a transparent varnish. It serves as a perfect painting surface and the key purpose of the canvas application may have been the strengthening of the wooden shield corpus in a manner not unlike to modern glass-reinforced plastic.

Non-traditional applications of stretched canvas fabric

There is rapid rise in using the wide range of stretched canvasses sizes and shapes for unconventional creative expression. Artists can create miniature works on a business card-sized stretched canvas and utilize them as trading cards to develop connections with other artists. Many artists use canvas for altered art pieces and scrapbook pages due to the availability of stretched canvas in many sizes, from miniatures to wall size. It can also be used for decoupage and needlework projects, made into lamps, or painted simply for home decor.

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