How to Roll up a Painted Canvas

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Once you've toiled for hours over your painted canvas (or toiled for hours to earn the money to buy one), you should protect your investment by always storing it properly. Ideally, painted canvases will spend most of their time on display. However, they will need to be moved or stored occasionally, and many canvases will get rolled up in this process. Sticking to the steps outlined below will make sure that rolling up your fine canvas won't damage all of your hard work.

Things You'll Need

  • Painted canvas
  • Acid-free paper
  • Sturdy cardboard tube
  • Go to a fine art supply store if you do not already have a supply of acid-free paper or a sturdy cardboard tube. While not common at general retailers, these supplies are very common at art stores and are usually very affordable. Make sure that the length of the tube is longer than the shortest side of your canvas and that the acid-free paper is larger than your canvas in both length and width.

  • Lay out a sheet of acid-free paper on a flat surface. If necessary, you can trim the paper with scissors, but you should leave at least a foot of excess in width and another foot of excess in length. If you don't have a single sheet that is large enough, arrange a grid of several overlapping pieces.

  • Lay the canvas down flat on the acid-free paper with the painted side down. Make sure that there are no wrinkles and that all layers are absolutely flat.

  • Roll the paper and the canvas up together, starting on one of the short sides. Take note that you're rolling up the canvas with the painted surface on the outside, although it is covered with the paper. Also, be sure to roll it rather loosely; you'll want to encourage air circulation throughout the canvas while it is in storage.

  • Slide the rolled-up canvas into the cardboard tube. Do not enclose the open ends of the tube, even if it came with fitted plastic lids. The canvas needs to breathe. Store the tube on its side in a dark, cool and dry place.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rolling is rarely the ideal way to store or move a canvas, but it is often the most convenient and compact way of doing so. Make the decision to roll your canvas carefully and only after seriously considering alternative storage methods.
  • Never roll up a painted canvas with the painted surface on the inside. This compresses the paint, which leads to cracking and peeling. Rolling in the other direction stretches the paint, which can be done without concern.
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