Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fredrix Illustration Goof-up

As someone who has been stretching his own canvases for 30+ years, I was surprised to find a different method illustrated on the back of the blister packaging for my new pair of Fredrix Canvas Pliers. In fact, at a glance as I was tossing it in the trash, the image registered as wrong to me.

Can you tell what the problem is?

Well, I went to www.fredrixartistcanvas.com as they directed me to, which redirected me automatically to its 'new' home www.taramaterials.com, not technically a goof, since companies are bought and sold and domains change all the time.

Tara Materials has been the sole owner of Fredrix Artist Canvas since 1968, when Arthur Freidrich sold the NY based canvas manufacturer to a couple of guys from Atlanta.

I recently purchased my second pair of canvas pliers in 33 years because the first ones broke. Can you believe something I bought in college would only last 33 years or so? But way back in college, I learned that to properly stretch a canvas you tack stretched canvas starting in the middle of each bar and work the opposite side for the next tack.

The Fredrix canvas "mounting" instructions, while not very clear, are in agreement with what I was taught about working from the center out and across.

But look at the staples in the illustration.

Yes, I am picking on Fredrix for their packaging, but it is all tongue-in-cheek — I am confident in most any of their products, and as with any manufacturer, they produce varying qualities of some products to suit certain needs.

I am confident that the average artist who only stretches a few dozen canvases a year will do just fine with a set of generic canvas pliers, just as well as another brand for $15 more or, if you want to have exactly what I am using (and they do have some nice additional features, like a wider grip and a grip-handle stop at the far end to, presumably prevent breakage) you might want to go ahead and pony up the extra few bucks to get the Fredrix canvas pliers.


Diana Moses Botkin said...

Gee what dunderheads.

Sean said...

Yes,well the picture is totally wrong to me; the stretcher pliers are upside down,the rounded side helps with leverage and the staples aren't normally strong enough to hold the canvas.
Your right the best way is to alternate from side to side.

David R. Darrow said...

Sean, I hate to disagree with fellow artist, but there is a post, or a 'knuckle' that sticks out of one of the pliers sides, and that's the rocker for leverage. You can get so much more of a tight pull digging that knuckle into the stretcher bars, because there is extra space created, and it doesn't slip.

And staples are fine. You get twice the tacking as a single tack or brad, and they can be driven in with one hand. I space them just under 2" apart.

Celeste Bergin said...

ok--I give...I don't really understand what is wrong with the staples. What have I missed?

David R. Darrow said...

Celeste, if you read the instructions (link is in the story) you see that the time-tested method is to work from the center out. The first staples need to be in the centers of all sides.

The illustration shows stapling starting at the corner.

You could never get a good stretch this way.