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Author Topic: Finishing the back of a canvas?  (Read 1882 times)
Mike Guilbault
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« on: April 18, 2013, 12:15:17 PM »
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Do you cover the back of a canvas once it's framed?  I guess the question would apply to gallery wraps too. Is there a reason one way or the other other than aesthetics?
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John Nollendorfs
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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2013, 12:36:56 PM »
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This used to be called a "dust cover". One real reason is to keep moths from chewing on the canvas from the back. But not nearly the consideration, since most of our canvas' are a cotton synthetic blend now. ;-)
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Justan
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« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2013, 12:45:31 PM »
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I put a cover on, plus add felt pads, 2 CRL picture hangers, and a page of information about the work on a piece of paper thatís taped with ATG to the craft paper.

I get the craft paper from Uline, the heaviest weight they have.

Customers love and look for elements of fit and finish.

Cost is around a dollar with the biggest cost being the ATG tape.
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2013, 12:52:48 PM »
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That's what I've been doing with paper prints when matted and framed.  I was just wondering if there was a different practice or consideration when framing a canvas. 
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Paul2660
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2013, 01:02:28 PM »
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I leave the back open 95 percent of the time.  If I cover it I use a mat board up to 30x 40.  After that size I don't cover the back.  Problem with craft paper is odds are while handling the print someone pokes a hole in the back it's easy to do since most of people will try to grip from the back.   Many times people will be adding a frame later anyway.  Personal prefs. 

Paul Caldwell
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Paul Caldwell
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2013, 07:21:47 PM »
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I've already had that happen and had to 're-back' it.  Think I'll go without for a while and see what the customer feedback is.  I would like it to be more 'finished' looking, but other than a backing can't think of another way.
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louoates
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« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2013, 07:41:02 PM »
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I usually don't cover the back. It does look a bit more "finished" with a cover but few buyers look at that before deciding on the purchase. The biggest drawback with a back cover, mentioned earlier, is improper handling by customers and, believe it or not, gallery folks. Even though I carefully explain that the proper way is to carry it by the hanging wire, 90% of people simply grab it with fingers on the back and front, both piercing any backing paper and indenting the canvas on the face. The key is to never touch the image area with the fingers. When hanging, they should use gloves and handle only the wire with a weight-supporting palm touching only the gallery wrap edges.
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bill t.
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« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2013, 07:44:30 PM »
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Concentrate on making gorgeous framing jobs with craftsman-like, perfect corners.  It's the front that counts, put your money and effort where it shows.  Those involved in framing have been going around in circles about the canvas back/no-back question for eons, so I will not say anything more about it except that I am a non-backer which is one of the advantages of mounting on Gator: backing is irrelevant.  Data point...without exception all the big name, fine art painters I know do not back their $4-figure+ canvases.

If you must back, try the Tyvek products designed for the purpose.  Almost puncture proof.  Of course, a properly assembled, paper-backed frame is puncture proof too, if the framer does the right thing and fills out the back of the art package with spare matte board etc so it is flush with the back edges of the frame, and therefore finger-puncture proof.  But Tyvek gives you more leeway.  And can't say enough bad things about ATG tape for any imaginable framing purpose intended for display anywhere except Joe's Java Joint.  Properly applied backing should be glued to the frame if you want it to last.



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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2013, 07:59:00 PM »
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Good points.  Thanks guys.
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Paul2660
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« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2013, 09:13:22 PM »
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I just remembered another reason I don't use paper.  If you gallery wrap, you can use screw eyes inside the frame, they allow you to hang the print flush to the wall, for a great look.  I only use the mirror hangers on something larger than 30 x 45. 

Paul Caldwell
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Paul Caldwell
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« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2013, 09:28:35 PM »
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ahhh... great idea!  Thanks for that too.
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Colorwave
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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2013, 11:55:41 PM »
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I used to add paper backings to my gallery wraps, but discovered that it encouraged mold (at least here in Hawaii), and to trap ambient humidity that encourages tension issues in climate controlled spaces with changing conditions.  Here, most of the galleries have air conditioning, but often leave the doors open.  It subjects the art to rapid changes in temperature and humidity between day and night, and the air space inside the print changes much more slowly than the exterior, creating problems.  I suppose Tyvek would have less issues than paper, but it still isn't the same as unimpeded airflow.  I just staple neatly and while the paper looks nice, is isn't that big a difference without as long as things don't look messy.
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framah
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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 10:03:34 AM »
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Wrapped canvas pieces should be backed with either a piece of foam core or Coroplast or Polyflute which are names for a corrugated plastic sheet.
The reason for doing this is to protect the canvas from being damaged from the back. One of the most common damages to a canvas painting is when something pushes it from the back causing the canvas to stretch or even tear.
No matter  how careful YOU might be with the piece, there is ALWAYS some dam fool who will lean the piece against the corner of something, allowing it to push into the canvas.
Paper is usually put on to prevent dust and dead bugs to buildup  in that area at the bottom of the canvas where it meets the stretcher. All of this schmutz builds up over time and will accelerate the deterioration of the fabric ... rotting.

My personal thought here is that if you are having a mold problem, it might  be more a lack of air space behind the piece rather than a piece of paper on the back. Hanging a piece too flat to the wall will invite mold more than a piece of paper in preventing air circulation. It is one of the reasons for hanging at a slight angle as well as bumpers at the bottom. While helping to prevent possible damage to a wall, they also increase the air circulation behind the art. Another possibility is that the wall isn't insulated, which allows moisture to pass thru the wall and to the back of the art that is too close to the wall.

Try placing fans blowing against the wall to increase air circulation.
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Colorwave
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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2013, 11:36:43 AM »
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LOL  I'll mention to all my clients and galleries that they should place fans along all of their walls to blow behind their art.
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Justan
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« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2013, 02:07:13 PM »
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Concentrate on making gorgeous framing jobs with craftsman-like, perfect corners.  It's the front that counts, put your money and effort where it shows.  Those involved in framing have been going around in circles about the canvas back/no-back question for eons, so I will not say anything more about it except that I am a non-backer which is one of the advantages of mounting on Gator: backing is irrelevant.  Data point...without exception all the big name, fine art painters I know do not back their $4-figure+ canvases.

If you must back, try the Tyvek products designed for the purpose.  Almost puncture proof.  Of course, a properly assembled, paper-backed frame is puncture proof too, if the framer does the right thing and fills out the back of the art package with spare matte board etc so it is flush with the back edges of the frame, and therefore finger-puncture proof.  But Tyvek gives you more leeway.  And can't say enough bad things about ATG tape for any imaginable framing purpose intended for display anywhere except Joe's Java Joint.  Properly applied backing should be glued to the frame if you want it to last.








Bill,

Your snarky comments roused my curiosity and so I spent some time at the Grumble (www.thegrumble.com) where I did not find one disparaging comment about using ATG or Kraft paper as a dust cap on the back of a frame. In fact, according to a survey there, the majority use Kraft paper and a lot, perhaps most also use ATG. Here is a typical thread on the topic: http://www.thegrumble.com/showthread.php?32942-What-are-you-using-for-backing-paper-Dust-cover

Here is the most recent survey of theirs I found:

Which BACKING PAPER do you generally use? Sep/Oct 2011, Sept 2008 (176 participants 2011, 190 participants 2008)

9/2011 9/2008 6/2004   
38.07% 35% 45% Brown kraft paper
32.39% 37% 56% Black kraft paper
16.48% 17% 36% Blue Lineco/ph buffered paper
3.98% 03% 06% Tape
2.27% 03% 11% Tyvek
1.14% 01% 02% Blue kraft paper
0.57% 01% 00% Fabric. Cambrick, etc
0% 01% 05% Decorative Paper
2.27% 01% 02% OTHER: See forum
2.84% 01% 02% None/does not apply

http://www.custompictureframing.com/poll_results.htm


While I didnít read everything the grumble has to offer, the closest to a negative comment I came across was one person who stated that if ATG receives direct sunlight it will loosen the bond. Of course, not a lot of sunlight reaches the back of most framed works. Many senior members there stated they have used ATG and Kraft paper for decades for this exact purpose. Some argued for white or other glues instead of ATG because it costs less. The cost issue is no doubt true, but it is waaay more difficult to place something over glue without smearing the glue, and on a 6 to 8 foot long work the dust cover is going to move around before it is placed correctly.

So Iím wondering, if you wish to share, what it is about ATG and Kraft paper that motivated the snarky comment?

BTW it is not easy to puncture 75lb Kraft paper.
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Paul2660
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« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2013, 03:01:22 PM »
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Justan:

I believe most of what you are reading on the Grumble is referring to standard framing, i.e. frame, glazing etc.  I always add a dust cover on a framed piece, most often white kraft paper.  Where needed I will use Tyvek.  A frame paper back is much less prone to puncture, sure.  But that all depends on the frame depth in use.  However with a canvas gallery wrap say  1 1/2 inch deep, it's very easy to puncture the paper since there is nothing behind it, during handling or most often when hanging the piece.   It's all a personal preference. 

On any GW I ship, I always back and face it, just to protect it during shipping.  But I tend not to back local ones and ones I have in Galleries. 

In all the frame shops I have been in, or worked in, Kraft paper tends to be the standard for backing a framed piece, however more shops around here are getting away from the brown paper, and using black, or white, or Tyvek.

Paul Caldwell
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Paul Caldwell
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bill t.
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« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2013, 03:55:46 PM »
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^ATG is an adhesive based technology, and all adhesives fail within a time frame of years.  It's just that simple.  The only rationale for ATG is expedience in the absence of foresight.  Check out the frames at the thrift or antique stores.  Lots of backings in bad shape, or entirely missing, or recently replaced by new backings.  And ATG guns are an invention of the Devil, just ask anybody who owns one.

[numerous snarky statements deleted from this section]

Please don't anybody be offended by my tendency towards snarking.  Snarking is the poetry of Skeptics.  And SHAME on those ATG-hugging framers over at The Grumble!  Smiley  But at least they told the truth.  Expedience usually wins.
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Jason DiMichele
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« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2013, 09:38:30 PM »
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The only reason I cover the back of the canvas is if it's acoustically dampened to be installed in either a sound critical environment or a large echoey area that the client wants to help dampen. These prints are typically at least 3-4ft to have the most effect, and often the client will purchase multiple pieces to have more of my art to cover their walls and to create more dampening surface area in the room(s).

Cheers,
Jay
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Jason DiMichele
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framah
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« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2013, 10:12:26 AM »
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LOL  I'll mention to all my clients and galleries that they should place fans along all of their walls to blow behind their art.

You know as well as anyone (or you should) that mold grows where there is moisture and no air circulation. If you have a mold problem, try to figure out HOW to get more air circulating behind the piece... or reduce the moisture content.   Simple as that. A fan was suggested as a way to reduce the problem till it could be controlled permanently.

Leaving a backing off will not matter a whit.

Other than that, canvas pieces still need a protective backing more than just paper.
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Colorwave
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« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2013, 11:41:45 AM »
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When you live in the tropics and get 60" of rain or more per year, you mitigate mold, but never fully eleminate it.  Sealed or enclosed spaces encourage it.  This isn't Kansas.  Not all of Hawaii gets that much rain, but Hilo gets around 120" a year.  It's hard to even keep books from getting moldy in a climate controlled space there.
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