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Question: How can I prevent canvas from cracking along the fold?

Answer: Traditional Artist canvas sometimes has a tendency to crack when folded; this is an unfortunate traditional characteristic of the Gesso coating or painting surface. The canvas is especially susceptible to cracking in freezing temperatures when it becomes brittle. Let the canvas warm first in order to become pliable.
Some things that help to prevent this are a good ink receptive top coat which creates an additional barrier and layer of protection for the gesso layer.
The best protection against cracking is a good top coat over the printed image; this encapsulates the print which ensures additional bonding throughout coatings as well as surface protection for the image. In addition a good topcoat, sometimes referred to as varnish or liquid laminate, can help to protect the image from fading which is caused by UV rays.
When mounting to a frame it is important to remember ‘stretching’ a canvas is more a descriptive rather than a general term. Actually it is more like ‘wrapping’ the frame with the canvas under tension. The reason I make this clarification is that the canvas itself will typically have more give or stretch as a woven fabric whereas the coating is often not ‘stretchy’ especially when traditional textured canvas is considered.
Additional techniques to prevent cracking are:

  • If the fold is on a printed area, try to fold & mount soon after printing as the coating is softened by the ink on aqueous based canvas.
  • Lightly dampening the reverse ‘raw’ canvas side with a spray bottle will also allow it to become more pliable & less prone to cracking.