When artists buy canvas in rolls it comes in several sizes, usually 54″ or 84″ wide. One wonders from where these numbers come.
The table below is to help artists buy canvas in bulk and stretch their own canvas.
This table can help determine how many canvasses may be cut from a certain size roll.
This first table is for gallery wrapped stretchers which are 1 1/2 inches deep. This allows 7 inches wrap or 3 1/2 inches extra material on each side for tacking on the back of the stretcher.
Here is how I use this table…..The column on the left shows that I can make two 27″ cuts across a 54″ roll to make two 20″ canvasses across with no waste. The left hand column shows how far down the roll I then go without wasting material…..12 cuts at 23″ is 207″……the table at the bottom says that 6 yards is 216″ so I can make 2 x 12 or twenty four 16″ x 20″ canvasses out of a 54″ roll at 6 yards
The table also shows that if I buy the 84″ roll in the catalogue I get three across and 3 x 12 or 36 canvasses per roll
This form of calculation is great but the standard sizes of roll and blankets of any cloth start with the loom. The first looms were 54″ and later came 84″. The standard sizes of canvas came from a “zero scrap” approach. I bought a blanket of linen which was 6 yards of 84″ wide material. When I unfolded it twice, it was 84″ x 54″….by making one cut I produced 4 pieces at 54″ x 84″. By folding and cutting twice more I had 32 pieces of 27″ x 22″ linen and no scrap. These pieces could be used to make either 16″ x 20″ gallery wrap or 18″ x 24″ standard stretched canvasses.
If you lay the blanket on the floor you will see that the folds have been made in such a way that measurements are often not necessary. Those funny looking numbers, 54 and 84 are carefully designed to waste little or no material.
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