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Review: Genie Collapsible Big Canvas

One company's solution to shipping big and oversized paintings on canvas

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Painting on an oversized canvas becomes problematic when you need to get it from your studio to a gallery or someone's home. Shipping a large canvas presents not only issues of wrapping it safely, but also a huge cost! Which is where Genie Canvas has spotted a niche, and has started manufacturing a blank canvas that's easy to roll up and restretch. Everything fits into an oversized tube, reducing shipping costs. (Buy Direct)

Sound too good to be true? I had my doubts, especially concerning what wrapping the stretchers inside the canvas might do in terms of denting the canvas. This is what I found:

The Biggest Posting Tube I've Ever Seen!

Roll up big canvas for shipping in a tube
Click on photos to enlarge.
When the manufacturer says it's a big blank canvas, they mean it. I have never seen such a large posting tube before (and I suspect the delivery courier hadn't either!). While it's still heavy and bulky, the canvas is far more manageable rolled up than it would be flat. The tube is made from quite thick cardboard, so is very rigid and should protect a precious, finished painting well in transit. Certainly the blank canvas arrived in pristine condition.

Color-Coded Corners

Roll up big canvas for shipping in a tube
When you pull the canvas out of the tube, you'll find the canvas is attached to two stretchers and rolled around the other two, plus the central strut. You don't have to worry which bit goes where though as the corners are color-coded with small dots. Simply slide the two pieces together. You might have to give it a thump to encourage it all the way if you're not very strong as it's a neat fit.

How Big a Canvas?

Roll up big canvas for shipping in a tube
To give you a sense of scale, the person holding this is six-foot tall (about 1,8 metres). This photo shows the first side stretcher being put into place. As you can see, it folds in the middle.

Canvas onto the Stretchers

Roll up big canvas for shipping in a tube
The canvas is stapled to two stretchers and there's hook-and-loop tape (aka Velcro) on the other two to hold it in place. What you can't see in this photo is the plastic strip holding the two pieces of the folded stretcher together. Once the canvas is pulled over, everything is quite rigid.

Easy-Fold Corners

Roll up big canvas in a tube
Don't worry about folding the corners neatly if hospital-corners aren't your thing. The canvas comes pre-folded so let the existing crease lines guide you. And if it isn't quite neat enough, you can simply do it again as the canvas isn't stapled on!

Folding Central Strut

Roll up big canvas for shipping in a tube
The central stretcher bar slips into place easily, and has a metal piece you slide across to keep it rigid. To prepare to roll up the canvas again, you simply move this piece across and pull the bar out.

The Stretched Blank Canvas

Roll up big canvas for shipping in a tube
This photo shows the blank canvas fully stretched. I had worried that it being rolled around the stretchers would create dents, but this wasn't the case. There were, however, a few wrinkles. A bit of water sprayed on the back should sort this out, like any other small canvas dent.

Getting It All Back in the Tube

Roll up big canvas for shipping in a tube
Rolling up the canvas again around the stretchers and protective wrapping so that it was tight enough to get back into the tube proved a challenge. I knew it fitted -- after all, it came out of the tube -- but it took several attempts (with an extra pair of hands helping) to do it. It was also hard to roll it up without the canvas wrinkling; this may be easier when the canvas is painted rather than blank, as the paint would stiffen it somewhat. Rolling it up and putting it back into the tube is something I would definitely practice before painting on the canvas, as I wouldn't want to be rolling and re-rolling a finished work.
Is It Okay to Roll Up a Painting?

Manufacturer's Details: Genie Collapsible Canvas

Roll up big canvas for shipping in a tube
Photo ©2013 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
Genie Canvas is based in Germantown, NY, USA.
• 10 oz, primed cotton duck canvas
• Stretchers 17-ply birch
Sizes 36x36", 36x48", 36x60", 36x72" 48x48", 48x60", 48x72"

Supporting videos: Assembly, Folding Corners, and Packing.

Buy Direct

My Overall Verdict

© 2013 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

It's a clever solution to a very real problem: how to easily transport a really big canvas. I would practice rolling it up before painting on the canvas, because that's where the potential for damaging it exists. In terms of price, it may seem expensive, but big canvases (when you can find them!) are expensive. You will certainly save on postage! In terms of quality, it's what you'd want, a sturdy, well-primed, ready-to-paint support.

Disclosure: A sample canvas was provided by the manufacturer for this review. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

Updates

Photos © 2013 Genie Canvas
February 2013: Since sending me the sample canvas, Genie Canvas has introduced an inner tube for wrapping the canvas around and holding the unattached stretchers (click on photo to see larger version). They said they'd "improved the shipping with an inner tube for the canvas, which alleviates the bending around corners and will also help with crushing that may occur if handled harshly by transporters." I think it'll help make rolling up the canvas easier too.

June 2013: Available through Blick Buy Direct

Reader Submitted Review, June 2013:
"I like to paint big, and I sell my paintings online. I had a hard time selling big paintings because the shipping was always so expensive. I started using Genie Collapsible canvases - and I've sold a bunch of them! The largest size they sell is 6x4 feet, and I can ship for $40 from NY to California. The quality is top-notch, including the canvas itself, and the stretcher bars, which are very warp-resistant (plywood). Also included is a middle support which snaps into place which makes the canvas really tight. I can assemble one in 5 minutes, with no tools! I love these canvases! And the owner is really great at answering questions and making sure you're happy. Highly recommended!" -- Patty Baker
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