Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

How to Stretch Your Silk Painting on a Canvas Frame in 10 Easy Steps – a Tutorial with Photos

Here at long last (without any real desktop publishing tools) is my response to the request for more visual material on how to stretch your silk painting onto a canvas frame. As many of you will know I have already published an article which describes this process. However, a picture speaks with such clarity, doesn’t it? So here I have a small tutorial for you with pictures and words.

To get started you should have the proper tools at hand so that the process flows as easily as possible. This is what you need: a large board or surface to work on, a roll of masking tape, a stapler (not the small sort you use in the office), a measuring stick or tape, a sheet of paper to protect the silk when working, a chunky artist’s frame of your choice which should be a approximately 15 centimetres smaller than your silk painting in both width and breadth, a Stanley knife and of course, last but not least, your beautiful work of art.

As you can see we are busy framing a one million dollar note reproduced in silk. If you’re at all into Feng Shui, then you’ll know that this is ideal for the prosperity corner.

Step 1

Step One:

Place your board on the floor or table, lay the sheet of paper on top of this and finally place the artist’s frame on top. . Now lay your silk art face up around the canvas frame. Lightly fold it over the edges. You don’t need to worry at this point to centre it as you are only taking the measurements. Now lay your measuring stick across the top surface to measure both the height and width of your picture.

Step Two:

Now remove your silk painting again and lay the frame to one side. You will be needing it again in a moment so have it to hand.

Step Three:

Step 3a

Step 3b

Lay your silk painting face down on the paper and using the measuring stick and masking tape, measure out the dimensions of the frame. If your frame is 50cm wide, then make sure that you have an equal amount of background both left and right of your image, and mark these with the masking tape, so that the frame will sit nicely centred. You can see from the photo that our picture had 4cm on both sides. Do the same for the top and bottom, placing pieces of masking tape to show the outer edges of the frame.

Step Four:

Step 4a

Step 4b

Now take your canvas frame and gently lay it down on the silk, taking care to align the masking tape with the edges of the frame.

Step Five:

Step 5a

Step 5b

Now you’re going to start the actual stapling of the silk onto the wooden frame. You can see quite clearly why the silk needs to be a few

Step 5c

Step 5d

centimetres wider than the frame for the wrap around. Start in the middle of the

edge nearest to you and pull the

Step 5e

silk firmly up and over the frame. Holding it down flat, staple the silk firmly in place. Proceed with the opposite edge. Repeat this for the remaining two edges. If your work is on the floor, it’s quite easy to move around in a circle. Next add staples halfway between all the ones you have already attached and repeat this process until the silk is snugly stapled all the way around the frame. Don’t staple too close to the corners.

Step Six:

Step 6a

Step 6b

Next you’re going to attach the silk at the corners. Tuck the excess silk underneath and fold an edge

to make a 90 degree angle, with the fold of silk lying along the edge of the frame (see photos 6a and 6b). Firmly staple the silk in place.

Step Seven:

Step 7

The remaining excess silk gets folded back in the opposite direction (to the outer edge of the frame). Fold so that the silk is flush with the corner of the frame (Step 7) and on the top tuck the last silk in diagonally towards the middle of the picture. Firmly staple in place on top. DO NOT staple where the silk is visible. Repeat on all four corners.

Step Eight:

Step 8

Lift the picture up to check that everything is nice and straight from the front. The million dollar note needs to be very straight due to the straight edges in the painting. You may get away with less precision with other images. Should  you decide that anything needs altering, ie. the image is a bit squint, then  carefully turn your picture back over, undo the staples and readjust your silk.

Step Nine:

Step 9

If you are satisfied with the result, place your measuring stick along the four edges and trim the excess silk off with a Stanley knife. Please only do this if you are wide awake.

Step Ten:

Your picture is now ready for hanging. The beauty of this method is that you only need 1 nail as the picture is so light-weight compared with a traditional frame. You may need 2 for larger pictures. In this case we used two. Knock in the first one, hold up your spirit level and mark where the second one goes. Knock it in too. And now you can hang your picture.

Step 10

Eh, voila. You have a beautiful work of art, framed to perfection which shows off your artwork wonderfully and it hasn’t cost you a fortune to do it either. Enjoy.


January 20, 2010 - Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , ,


  1. The wordpress blog seemed rather overwhelmed at so many photos that we had difficulties putting this together. After much pulling out of hair 🙂 I decided that broken lines, non-aligned photos, etc. were not as important as the message here of mounting your silk paintings. So perfection aside and let’s be creative. Let me know what you think.

    Comment by Fiona | January 20, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thank you for your help!

    Comment by Carol Turkin | February 5, 2010 | Reply

    • You’re very welcome.

      Comment by Fiona | February 9, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] secure it. I have written a tutorial on this one and you can find it on my blog under the title : How to Stretch Your Silk Painting on a Canvas Frame in 10 Easy Steps. That’s the way I do my mandalas pictures with the gutta embellishments. I put my mandala […]

    Pingback by Silk & Art Newsletter | Tips, Hints and Latest News from Silk & Art | » Newsletter – April 2010 | April 21, 2010 | Reply

  4. […] Some of you may recognise this painting from a post I made quite a few months ago. It was entitled “How to Stretch Your Silk Painting on a Canvas in 10 Easy Steps”. I wanted to bring it out again into the limelight to show it off a little bit because it’s […]

    Pingback by The Million Dollar Silk Painting « Fiona Stolze's One-Stop Blog for Silk Painting | July 10, 2010 | Reply

  5. […] at stretching your silk pictures on artist’s frames, have a look at my tutorial on this blog: How to stretch your silk painting on a canvas frame… It might make things a bit easier for you if you haven’t tried it out before. Good […]

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  6. Very helpful tips and the photographs nicely reinforced the information provided.

    Thank you!

    Comment by Jackie Sampers | August 28, 2010 | Reply

    • You’re welcome. Glad to be of help.

      Comment by Fiona | September 3, 2010 | Reply

  7. You gave instructions with such clarity. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Comment by dolphinity | February 5, 2011 | Reply

    • You’re so welcome. Glad it was of some help.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | February 5, 2011 | Reply

  8. Hi Fiona,
    Thanks for this great tutorial–I found it doing a google search.

    I had question, however, about using canvas: Is it necessary? Are there materials that can be applied over the frame instead? I ask because I need to build a custom frame for a beautiful silk scarf that I bought in Venice. To have the frame custome built (with canvas) is going to cost over $200. I plan to build the frame myself and I’m trying to figure out if I absolutely need to learn to stretch canvas over it. Thanks for the help!


    Comment by Ryan | February 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Ryan
      Glad you found this tutorial useful. And thanks for your question. Basically you don’t have to use canvas on the wooden frame. The reason we use it is because it gives a really sturdy base for your silk. You can however just attach your silk straight onto the wooden frame. That works too. However if you have a white background, the colours in your silk are much more vibrant.

      If you go for canvas, then you would simply buy the length you need and give it one or two coats of white paint and then when it is thoroughly dry, just fix it onto the wooden frame in exactly the same way as you would for the silk as described above. All you need to watch for is to pull the canvas very firmly in place at the corners before stapling in place.

      I hope this helps and do let me know how things work out.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | February 6, 2011 | Reply

      • Thanks Fiona for the response. What color canvas do you recommend for dark silk The silk I have is a very dark blue, almost black. The colors on it are earth tones. Overall, the whole thing is pretty dark. Do you still recommend a white canvas?

        Also, can you recommend anything in lieu of canvas? Perhaps some kind of special paper?

        Thanks again!


        Comment by Ryan | February 7, 2011 | Reply

        • You’re welcome Ryan. And yes, I always recommend only white. Even black looks more vibrant with that background. The lighter colours will get swallowed up if you use a darker tone.

          I wouldn’t suggest using paper of any kind with the fabric. When I am framing silks behind glass I use white acid board backing with a layer of thick white paper on top of the backing board then the silk. Not though when the canvas is open. I would go for canvas covering or the silk alone.


          Comment by Fiona Stolze | February 7, 2011 | Reply

          • Fiona, thanks again. I’ll send you a picture when it’s done.


            Comment by Ryan | February 8, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Fiona,
      Do you have a recommended type or manufacturer of paint for the canvas? Also, is it the case that you would paint the canvas (as you said above), before stretching it on the frame?

      I’m about to purchase everything and trying to avoid beginner mistakes.

      Thanks again for the help!


      Comment by Ryan | February 17, 2011 | Reply

      • No recommendations Ryan, any canvas primer, but yes definitely paint the canvas first before you start the stretching work.


        Comment by Fiona Stolze | February 17, 2011 | Reply

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