How to Make a Reverse Canvas

How to Make a Reverse Canvas

I kept reading about reverse canvas this and reverse canvas that and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what it was.  

Well, it’s basically taking the frame from behind your canvas and putting it on the front.  


Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. 

What You Need:

  1. Canvas – any size will do but it needs to have a frame in the back.  It can’t be one of the canvases that is just on a board.
  2. Paint – optional
  3. Design to put on canvas – you can paint this or use vinyl, etc.
  4. Staple gun and staples
  5. Sharp knife/blade/scissors
  6. Screw driver
  7. Pliers
  8. Sand Paper

Let's Begin!

Remove Canvas

  1. First things first.  You need to removed the canvas from the frame.  There are several ways to do this.
    1. Pull each staple out to release the canvas.
    2. Cut the edge of the canvas next to the staples all the way around the frame.
    3. Cut a small portion of the canvas close to the frame and pull/rip the remainder of the length and wide by hand.

Option A can be a bit tricky as if you are not being careful, you can tear a whole through your whole canvas leaving you with a hole that needs to be fixed or worked around.

Option B and C will require you to remove the staple after the fact but as the canvas will be removed at this point, there is some play between the staple and the frame, so you can easily put a screw driver under to pull the staple up.

Personally, I do option C.  I cut just a small portion of the canvas at the corner and pull the strip of canvas all the way down.  Repeat 3 times.  The image to the right shows the back of the canvas with 3 sides torn off.  Don’t worry about the frayed edges right now.

Remove the Staples

2.  Once you have removed the canvas from the frame your frame will look something like this (if you did option B or C above).

All of these staples need to be removed.  This is the back side of the frame so it’s ok to use a bit of force to get the staples out.  Any damage that may be caused to the frame will not be seen.

I use a flat head screw driver and pry it under the staples. Then I push the screw driver handle down and the staples comes up.  Sometime the staples are a bit tricky so I’ll need to use some pliers to pull it out all the way.

Prepare Canvas and Frame

3.  Optional – Paint the canvas.  Depending on what look you’re going for, you can leave the canvas the white that it is or you can paint it.  For this tutorial I painted my canvas.  This may take 2-3 coats of paint depending on the look you’re going for.  If you are painting the canvas, make sure you go almost all the way to the edges as shown below.


Finish the Frame

4. The frame will need some work.  I recommend doing a light to moderate sanding on the frame, depending on the state of it.  I haven’t found a frame in great condition yet.

5. Paint or stain the frame.  Again, as the frames aren’t in great shape it makes for a nice finish.  I usually paint the frames.  This will need 2-3 coats as well.

Re-attach the canvas

6.  Once the paint has dried on the canvas and the frame, you can re-attach them.

Try to center the canvas the best you can to the frame.  Staple one corner. For the purpose of this tutorial let’s call the first corner the top left corner. 

Pull the canvas as tight as you can along the top, all the way to the top right corner. Staple that corner next.

Now, again pulling down from your top left corner, pull as tight as you can and staple the bottom left corner.

Finally pull the last corner, bottom right as tight as possible and staple.

I find that pulling and stapling the corners in this fashion does not allow for loose material to be left along the edges.

Once all 4 corners are stapled you can fill in the length and widths of the canvas with additional staples.  Before adding staples, make sure to pull the canvas tight at each staple point.

Back of canvas after staples reapplied

reverse canvas

Front of canvas after staples reapplied

7.  You will notice that I now have surplus material around the edge of the frame.  This can be cut off with scissors, a sharp blade or by tearing the way we did at the beginning.

I don’t recommend tearing – this may lead to tearing into the canvas within the framed section.

Add a design

8.  I used permanent vinyl and applied it straight to the paint.  I’ll make another tutorial on how to make and apply designs.

And That's It! You're Done!

reverse canvas

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