JAIC 1990, Volume 29, Number 1, Article 4 (pp. 45 to 76)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1990, Volume 29, Number 1, Article 4 (pp. 45 to 76)

DETERIORATION OF SURFACES EXPOSED TO ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES

GUSTAV A. BERGER, & WILLIAM H. RUSSELL



4 THE IMPORTANCE OF TENSION FOR CANVAS PAINTINGS

STRETCHING A fabric is the easiest way to give a practical form to the idea of a perfectly even plane. Surprisingly, the enormous stress changes in stretched canvas have little effect on its actual size. With a good, strong stretcher, the change in the length of the yarns and in the size of the fabric itself is minimal, due solely to the contractions and expansions of the stretcher. If the stretcher does not move, the dimensions of the stretched fabric do not change. Under strong tension, a stretched fabric is consistently more elastic and resilient than a solid material of equal weight. As long as the fabric is kept under tension, it remains inert and flat. Thus, a stretched fabric is an excellent engineering solution for a large, flat, stable, and resilient surface of low weight and low cost. This accounts for its popularity as a painting support.


Copyright 1990 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works