I was looking for some ideas for our Spring Market and came across a method of creating wall art and signs called a “Reverse Canvas”. I do most of my signs using Chalk Couture and plywood or chalkboard, but this looked interesting. Ken is good about cutting things for me, but it’s a process to haul the big sheet of wood home, cut, sand and prep for chalk. This reverse canvas method uses an inexpensive artist canvas and a few basic tools. No saws required! And, because the canvases come in a variety of sizes, the possibilities are endless.
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To make a reverse canvas, you will need:
- An artist canvas in the size of your choice. I generally purchase mine online. You can buy them as singles or in value packs. Keep in mind that the wood frame is hidden under the canvas. We are going to disassemble the canvas to reveal it.
- Wood stain or acrylic paint
- Sandpaper or a sponge sanding block
- Sponge brush or paint brush
- Utility or X-acto knife
- Stapler or staple gun
- Your favorite Chalk Couture transfers and chalk paste
DIY Reverse Canvas Art Instruction
Remove any plastic covering on your canvas, and turn it so that the back side is up and the stapes and wooden frame are showing.
Gently remove the canvas from the frame without damaging it. There are a variety of ways you can do this. I prefer to use a utility knife to cut the canvas on the outside edge of the stapes and just leave the stapes in the back. Others opt to use a flat screwdriver and a pair of needle nose pliers to remove all the staples. Both options work. (Don’t give up. Removing the canvas is the biggest part of the work, but it will be worth it!)
Adding your Chalk Couture Design
Now that you have the canvas and the frame in two parts, set the frame aside and lay your canvas on a flat surface. The canvas comes with one side painted in gesso giving you a smooth white surface. The other side of the canvas is a bit rougher texture and a creamy color. Either side can be used.
Lay the frame that you just removed back over the area that you’re going to chalk to use as a guide for placing your transfers.
Plan your transfer placement making sure that you leave a little space between the frame and your design. Be sure to smooth the transfer so that it sticks well in all areas to keep your paste from bleeding under. Set the frame aside while you chalk your transfer. Working quickly, apply the chalk paste to your design being careful to keep it on the transfer. A bit of washi tape or painters tape around your transfer edge can help mask the areas you don’t want chalk on. Scrape off the excess paste and remove the transfer while the paste is still damp. Rinse your transfer in warm water and lay out to dry sticky side up. When you’re satisfied with your design, set your canvas aside to dry and prepare your frame.
Preparing the Frame
Using a sanding block or sandpaper, go over your frame and smooth some of the rough spots. These frames are more of a farmhouse style so they will be a bit more rustic. Dings, dents and a few rough areas just add to the charm. Embrace the imperfection! The stapes that are in the front corner of some of the frames can either be removed (the frames are glued so they won’t fall apart if you do remove them) or just painted over.
Stain your frame with your wood stain or acrylic paint. I like to use Minwax Stain in Dark Walnut. I just wipe it on with an old sock or a scrap of t-shirt. (Not going to lie; staining isn’t my favorite part of the job and can be a little messy. I try to do a whole pile of frames at a time.)
Set your frame aside and allow to dry thoroughly. Don’t even try to put the frame back on the canvas until you know without a doubt that it’s dry or you’ll mess up your canvas (take it from an over zealous crafter who just couldn’t wait.)
Putting it all Together
After your frame and canvas have dried, it’s time to put it all back together. Lay your canvas design side up on a flat surface. Position your frame right side up on your finished canvas. Move the frame around until you like the way it looks. Carefully hold the canvas and frame together as your turn the whole thing over. Place a staple in the middle of the top of the frame, attaching the canvas to the frame. Pull the canvas tight and put another staple in the bottom center of the frame. Take a moment now to turn the whole thing back over and make sure that the canvas is still centered in the frame. If needed, remove a staple and re-center. When you’re satisfied with placement, turn the whole thing back over and continue to pull the canvas tight and staple to the frame. (The excess canvas will hang over the frame.) Make sure that your staples are placed near the center back of the frame so that it’s easier to trim the canvas. I tend to use a ton of staples just to make sure my canvas is tight. If you flip it over and find that you have a wrinkle in your canvas, just remove a few staples, pull the canvas tight and re-staple.
When you’re happy with the way it all looks, take your utility knife and trim the excess canvas, being careful not to get too close to the staples.
At this point you can add a bit of cardstock or scrapbook paper to the back to hide the staples. No one looks at the backs so I just leave mine. Add a sawtooth hanger and you’re done!
I really like the look of this method and ended up doing an assortment of sizes to create a gallery wall for my granddaughters. It was a quick, easy and inexpensive way to add some unique art to their room.
Have you tried this method? I would love to hear what you think and see your creations!