05-02-2012, 05:43 PM
Join Date: Nov 2007
5/2/12 Product Info Tip of the Week - Fredrix Canvas
What do you know about one of the most famous canvas makers in the United States? Fredrix has been making canvas for over 140 years and is one of the leaders of professional grade canvas in the world. But how did they start out and how is the canvas made?
The Friedrichs Canvas Company was started in 1868, when E. H. Friedrichs started priming canvases in New York. Mr. Friedrichs was the first person in America to start producing artist grade canvas for the general public. About 100 years later another company, located in Georgia, started up with the hopes of making it in art world by selling canvas as well. This company was Beaux Arts, which later in 1968 changed their name to Tara Materials. The name change was in reference to a popular movie at the time and the Tara Plantation. In 1969, the grandson of Friedrichs, decided to sell the company Tara Materials. Fredrix canvas is still primed in Georgia.
The priming and stretching process is a labor of love and not something that Tara Materials or the Fredrix Company take lightly. The whole process starts with a “made in house” gesso. The canvas or linen is then shipped in from all over the world. The cotton is US grown but shipped to India, Turkey, Pakistan, or several other locations where it is woven and shipped back. The linen is sourced from one mill in Belgium where it is grown and woven. At the factory in Georgia, there are four coating lines for priming the cotton canvas. In one year Fredrix can prime close to 10 million square yards of fabric. The actual process takes 6 major steps. A similar process is used to prime the Belgium Linen; however, the actual application of gesso is done by hand.
1. Fabrics are steamed to open the pores
2. Fabric is brushed to raise the tooth and make it ready to accept the gesso
3. Fabric is vacuumed to remove dust and debris
4. Fabric is run through the calendar (ironing) station
5. Fabric moves through the coating table where a line of gesso is applied and then knifed smooth across the surface
6. Fabric is finally dried with forced air
Fredrix is best known for their pre-stretched canvases and rolls of canvas, but what many people may not realize is how many different varieties they offer. Some options they offer are: Heavy Duty, Medium Grade, Portrait Grade, Linen, Cotton, Cotton Duck, Polyflax, Watercolor, Oil Primed, Acrylic Primed, Canvas Panels, and Round or Oval Canvases, Traditional Profile, Gallery Profile, and Deep Profile. They are also known for their stretcher bars which use kiln dried lumber from the United States. Recently, Fredrix has started making Inkjet canvas as well. The Inkjet Canvas is available in large rolls or packages of smaller sheets.
Tara Materials and The Smithsonian did some testing and found that the synthetic fabrics, such as the Polyflax, and acrylic based gesso were the most archival and under their testing would last longer than cotton or linen. Traditionally, linen had been thought to be the most archival since the longer strands of flax root took longer to decompose than the shorter strands of cotton.
If the canvas is loose prior to or after painting, wait to add corner keys. Instead lightly spray or add a few drops of water to the back of the canvas (even if the painting was done in oils). The water should tighten up the fibers, even the Polyflax, naturally. It is similar to putting on wet jeans since they will shrink as they dry.
Product Information Specialist
For further assistance using art supplies, feel welcome to contact our Product Information Department at 1-800-933-2542 or e-mail us at [email protected]. Hours of operation: M-F, 8:00am-5:30pm CST.
- your friends at Blick Art Materials