By Theano Nikitas
Gallery wraps are gaining in popularity with the general public as evidenced by more than a few online sites offering wrap services for consumers. The do-it-yourself photo and canvas versions from Hahnemuhle were introduced last fall and offer a relatively simple and cost-effective method of wrapping photo canvas.
Hahnemuhle offers three options for gallery wraps: Gallerie Photo Wrap, a simple, all-in-one option, as well as Standard and Pro Gallerie Wrap systems. The former is available in two set sizes: 8 ½ x 11 and 13 x 19 inches, with finished sizes of 6 x 8 and 10 x 16, respectively. The latter two offer more versatility since wrap bars are available in boxes of 20 in lengths from 8-24 inches (Standard) and boxes of 8 at 8-60 inches (Pro). Each type requires corner positioners, corner braces, pins and archival glue. Center braces are available for the Pro versions.
As someone who always had problems stretching canvas for art class, I thought I would be the perfect test case to try out the Hahnemuhle Gallerie Wrap. Using the Standard sizes, I opted for an 8 x 12 set-up to wrap a vertical shot of a grey Heron printed on Hahnemuhle’s Monet canvas.
Click any image for larger view. Images ©Theano Nikitas
In order to wrap around the bars, the print needs to be made 1 ¼ - 1 ½ inches larger than the final frame size on each side (the Pro version, with deeper bars requires 1.8 – 2 inches extra). OnOne Software’s GenuineFractals 6 has a nifty feature that can automatically extend your margins for gallery wrap prints.
To get started, I organized everything on a table: the 4 bars, corner positioners, corner braces, glue and pins. Before assembling, I placed the print under the bars to check positioning.
Assembly is pretty easy, although Hahnemuhle’s estimate of “minutes” to put one of these together is overly optimistic, especially for the first few attempts. Following the instructions to pull the adhesive tape from the bars prior to popping them into the corner positioners proved to be a mistake. You need to press down on the adhesive-coated bars to snap them into the blue plastic pieces and my hands ended up sticking to the bars. A much easier method is to lift the tape from the corners of each bar so the adhesive remains covered until you’re ready to flip the frame over, adhere it to the canvas and remove the blue positioning corners.
Be sure to have a straight edge and a sharp X-Acto type knife on hand to trim the excess canvas around the frame. The frame’s adhesive did a good job of keeping the canvas in position during the trimming, which was encouraging since I wasn’t sure that it would hold.
The rest of the process was relatively problem-free, although it’s important to be careful not to run too much glue along the inside edges of the frame (this holds the canvas to the bottom of the frame when the bars are folded up).
Before pulling the bars into position, you need to open up the corners by cutting a 45-degree slit. That was easy, but once attached to the ends of the bars, the canvas needed to be trimmed a little more for a neater edge.
Once the bars were pulled up and the frame actually looked like a frame, staples were (gently) hammered into the corners for stability. While corner braces are also available, only the longer set of bars on this unusually sized frame had slots for them. But the frame was more than sturdy on its own. (My partner, an engineer, assisted in this whole process and agreed that corner braces were not needed.)
Over the course of a month, the framed image has held up well, with corners remaining square and no sign of the canvas being over-stretched or scratched, despite being dropped a few times. While I wouldn’t say it’s a museum quality wrap, it certainly is suitable to hang in a client’s living room or office.
While the initial investment, which requires the purchase of four plastic corners, PH neutral glue and pins, is slightly higher than ongoing costs, the Hahnemuhle Gallerie Wrap system seems priced reasonably enough to add on a decent profit margin without having your clients suffer from sticker shock. On the other hand, if you find that orders for gallery wraps start to peak in your business, then it might pay to find a wholesale source for the bars and accessories or order from a lab.
Theano Nikitas is freelance writer and photographer who has been writing about photography-related topics for 19 years. Her reviews, feature articles, tutorials and photographs have appeared in print and online for publications such as Photo District News, CNET.com, Popular Science, DigitalCameraReview.com and Imaging-Resource.com, among others.