As I've been looking at alternative ways to display prints, I came across this item called Stick & Stretch Gallerie Wraps. Or at least that's what they are called in Canada. In the United States, you'll find them under the brand name Hahnemuhle Gallerie Wrap. Different packaging, same thing. Basically they consist of four sticks, 1 ¼ wide in the Standard version and 1 ¾ wide in the Pro version. Each stick has an adhesive strip pre mounted, is beveled at the corners and is notched to fit into these moulded corner braces. You need a set of corner braces to make the system work, so your first purchase should be a Starter Pack that contains four sticks, reusable corner braces, a bottle of archival glue and some corner pins that look a lot like big heavy staples.
If you've ever done a Gallery Wrap the old way, with stretcher pliers and staple guns and hot glue, you know that while the final outcome can be beautiful, getting there is often arduous and frustrating. Hence this kit.
There are a couple of videos on the web that show how to use the kit, one from Photoplus in 2010 with the inventor, and one with Phil Neilsen from Amplis Canada. Both are excellent, Phil's is a bit easier to follow.
Making It Happen
- You collect your four sticks and by choosing different lengths and widths, you define your wrap size. Let's say you take 2 14" sticks and 2 17" sticks. You'll set up your print job to produce (for the standard sticks) a print that is 16 ½ x 19 ½, basically adding 2 ½ inches to the length of each dimension. This leaves you enough excess canvas to complete the wrap. If you are using the Pro series, you need to add 3 ½ inches to the length of each dimension.
- Print your image onto the canvas of your choice. This may require a higher end printer, or that you send the image out to a lab.
- Once the canvas is dry, hold it up to the light and mark the corners of the printed image on the back. This is important because you will use these marks to align the sticks.
- Peel back the cover of the adhesive on each of the beveled corners and then put the sticks into the corner blocks. They only go in one way. Standard corner blocks are blue, Pro corner blocks are red and they are not interchangeable. Press the sticks down into the corner blocks so the back sides of the sticks are flush with your table.
- Peel the remainder of the covering on all the sticks. Picking the frame up (corners and sticks) place it on the back of your print. Use the marks you made on the back to align the corner blocks to the corners of the printed image.
- Press each stick straight down. It will release from the blocks and adhere to the canvas. Use lots of pressure, you are making a bond happen between the stick and the canvas.
- Run a razor knife along the outside edge of each stick to trim the canvas. On larger prints you might want to leave an extra ½" to allow for an optional stapling step. Extend your cuts square to the corners and remove the excess canvas.
- You know have four sticks glued to the back of your image, that are properly placed and what looks like a square canvas area in each corner. Cut each corner at a 45 degree angle and fold back each section and adhere it to the exposed adhesive on the sticks. This will produce really nice clean corners when you do the tensioning.
- Run a bead of archival glue down the inside edge of each stick. When you tension, this glue will further adhere the canvas to the front edge of the stick and help address movement in the canvas over time.
- Starting with any adjacent pair of sticks, fold them upwards until their beveled edges meet in a nice corner. Take one of the staples and press it into the predrilled holes. Don't push it all the way in yet.
- Repeat for the other three corners. There is now nice tension on the canvas. Inspect your corners and if you are happy, tap with a small mallet or use some flat object to press the staple all the way in, anchoring each corner.
- Take the supplied corner brace sticks and press them into place. The mounting sticks have little notches pre-cut for these braces. This takes a bit of pressure and then they snap right in. This further tensions the canvas.
- At this point, I like to take a hard rubber roller and press the edges of the wrap again to assist the adhesive to bond.
- If you left extra canvas for your big print, now fold the excess over the back edges of the stretcher sticks and put a staple in every couple of inches. The adhesive is very good but this is sort of belt and suspenders solution.
This is really dead simple. My first one lost some tension about ten minutes after setting up, and that's why I added the step using the roller. The second one remains taut as a drumhead. The pricing for the sticks is pretty reasonable considering that they are all preformed and predrilled, the adhesive is decent, the archival glue works well and the staples are easy to work with. You will need to buy at least one starter kit for each format to get the proper corner blocks but once you have them, you're good. You can also buy glue as a standalone product as well as sacs of extra staples.
If you want to see someone do this before you buy, watch Phil's video on the Amplis Store page here.
Followup a day later. I've changed my description of the strip adhesive from good to decent. It doesn't stick consistently and to my disappointment, both wraps have sections that became unstuck. So I'm changing my rating and going to call the company tomorrow to vent a bit.