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How to safely roll a painting on canvases

Canvases painting that are stretched on artist canvas are bound to take up a lot of pace. It can be tiresome to find enough storage for all your artwork. But then there can come a time when you need to transport your work for sale and you’ll think about what may be the best way to go about it. You may consider rolling it up but will also wonder whether it is safe to roll up an artist canvas that you have worked so tirelessly on.

This is a pretty common question among artist and the answer is not easy. However, in general you can roll up a finished artist canvas painting, but you will need to take precautions into account before doing so.

Is it ok to ship or store a rolled canvases painting?

Canvases painting should survive the journey being rolled up and shipped, provided you ensure that the paint is completely dry and make sure that you don’t roll it up too tightly. You must realize that the process of rolling has risks associated with it.

The main concern is the potential for damaging the painting when you take the canvas off its stretchers. It will also need to be restretched and that is another opportunity for damage.

As for storing canvases painting that have been rolled up, it’s not an ideal choice in the long run. You may want to consider limiting it to your ‘B’ grade paintings if you do need additional storage space. Keep your best paintings on the stretchers and don’t roll them if not needed.

How dry should the paint be before rolling?

The paint needs to be utterly and completely dry, not just touch dry on the surface. Do not be tempted to roll a painting up when it’s not completely dry as this can cause many problems, particularly with oil paints which can be very wet under the surface. Not to mention it can ruin a lot of effort put into painting on the artist canvas.

If your buyer can’t wait for the painting you need to let him know that the paint needs to dry before you can roll it up and ship it.

You should present the attitude that you would rather risk losing the sale by telling the person to wait. It is better than having a dissatisfied client in possession of a messed-up painting. Hence, wait!

How to roll an artist canvas

To reduce the risk of damage to a minimum, you will want to follow a few simple guidelines: keep the roll loose and the paint on the outside.

Make sure you roll up the canvas with the paint on the outside. If you roll it up with the paint on the inside, the paint may wrinkle if it has been applied too thick or has a lot of texture.

If you’re worried about this, do a quick test: bend a finger and pay attention to your skin. On the outer edge, it stretches slightly to cope with the curve, whereas on the inside it folds up and compresses. Paint does the same thing, though it is not as visible as it is on your skin.

Try not to roll the painting up too tightly. Make sure that it is as loose and as big a roll as possible. If you’re putting the painting into a tube for shipping, buy a tube with a larger diameter. Ideally, you should buy two tubes: one to roll the canvas around so it can’t be squashed accidentally, and another to put the rolled-up painting into so that it stays safe and can’t be damaged.

Whether or not you decide to put something over the painting before rolling is debatable. You want to protect the painting but you don’t want something that will stick to it, rub off on it, or chafe it.

Something with texture, such as bubble wrap, may ‘imprint’ itself on the paint which is called ferrotyping.

Paper has the tendency to absorb moisture and go moldy, especially thin tissue paper.

A plastic that’s too thin may stick to the painting like cling film and be hard to remove.

If you decide to use another piece of canvas, make sure it has a fine weave, not a coarse one.

But then again, you also don’t want a rolled-up painting to chafe against the inside of the tube, so you do want to put some sort of packaging between it and the tube.

Remember that you should resist the temptation to roll the canvas with the painting on the inside to solve this problem.

How Long Can You Store a Rolled Canvas Painting?

Ideally, you should store a rolled painting for as short a period as possible. If possible, store a rolled canvas vertically rather than horizontal. This tends to put the weight on the outer edge of the canvas and not on a side of the painting.

The best case scenario for long-term storage is to make sure to store an artist canvas unrolled and lying flat. Try to find a space to do this, but don’t store too many paintings on top of one another as the bottom one will eventually be flattened by the weight.

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