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The frame is usually 1.25" (approx. 4cms) thick. As a result, the hardware (staples or tacks) used to secure the canvas is not visible. The sides of the canvas are prepared and primed in the same manner as the face or front. They may then be painted a solid color (usually white) or painted to continue the image appearing on the face. This method of stretching and preparing a canvas allows for a frameless presentation of the finished painting or photograph. In some competitions it is considered "framed" and ready to hang.
In canvas printing, the term "gallery wrap" refers to an image that appears on the sides of the frame as well as the front. The image on the sides is either a continuation or a reflection of the main image, or an otherwise fabricated element such as a solid color or colors derived from the adjacent image.
Gallery wrap is a very popular way to display art. However, because the edges of the canvas are wrapped over the thick bars, approximately two inches of the image (top, bottom, and sides) are not visible from the front. If the subject of an image or painting is sized and positioned correctly, the image will not be negatively affected. However, in some situations photo editing techniques are employed to fabricate additional image/material or to mirror existing content on the wrapped edges. Solid colours can also be used on the wrapped edges.
Gallery wrap vs. canvas stretching
There is sometimes confusion between "gallery wrap" and a "stretched canvas". Gallery wrap is a method of displaying art wrapped over thick wooden bars. There are no visible fasteners (e.g., staples or tacks). It is a finished product that is intended to be hung unframed.
In contrast, stretched canvas is not a finished product. This process precedes the framing process. The hardware is also unique; the stretcher bars are thinner allowing the fasteners to show on the sides. This convention is changing however, and even thin stretcher bars can be found "gallery wrapped" as a hangable work without an outside frame.
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