How to Find, Stretch, and Prime Eco-Friendly Canvases

How to Find, Stretch, and Prime Eco-Friendly Canvases

Creating eco-friendly painting surfaces is one way of making your painting practice a little greener. Here's how to stretch and prime canvases with our Certified Organic Raw Cotton Canvas, plus find seven more sustainable surfaces to paint on!


*For the stretcher bars, you have a few options:

  1. Build your own.
  2. Hire a local woodworker to make stretcher bars with recycled or FSC certified wood.
  3. Find old paintings at yard sales or in second-hand stores and re-use those stretcher bars.
  4. Find pre-made sustainable (FSC certified) bars at a local art supply store.

Step 1: Place your assembled stretcher bars on a piece of canvas. Measure 3-4 inches around the outside of the bars and cut off the extra canvas.

Note: Cut the canvas wide enough so there's room to fold it over and pull on while you staple.

Step 2: Staple one staple on one side; pull canvas taut and then staple one on opposite side; then one staple on the next edge and then again on the side opposite of that edge. Continue stapling once on each edge in an even, balanced way. Keep going until the staples are spaced about 2 inches apart, but don't staple all the way to the corners - leave room for folding the corner fabric.

Note: Don't worry if staples don't go all the way in, flush to wood; you can always hammer them in later!



Step 3: Fold the corners. Make 2 folds by sticking your finger in. One starts from bottom of corner:

And one starts from top of corner:

Fold over and staple in place several times until secure.

Note: Your canvas will tighten on the stretcher bars after the gesso has been applied (so don't worry about wrinkles).

The back of your canvas should look like this:

Step 4: Follow our How to Prime Your Canvases with the Natural, Non-Toxic Eco Gesso Kit tutorial to prime your canvas. 

And voila! You've got yourself an eco-friendly canvas!

Plus, more sustainable surfaces to paint on:

  • Recycled fabrics
  • Hemp Board, like those found at
  • FSC Certified Wood Panels, like those found at
  • Bamboo Panels, like those found at
  • Reused paintings (paint over an old painting with Eco Gesso to start fresh)
  • Local and handmade surfaces, created by your local wood worker with recycled wood
  • Hemp or linen Canvas

Interested in more Natural Earth Paint tips, tutorials, and techniques? Visit our Tips page!
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