Florida Stretchers is an alternative to expensive commercial aluminum stretcher-bar systems that has a substantial form.

Why create Florida Stretchers?

Florida Stretchers is a heavy-duty Do-It-Yourself (DIY) aluminum stretcher-bar system for artists and enthusiasts that provides adjustability. The system uses local off the shelf hardware.
When creating the Florida Stretcher system for personal use, I had four primary goals in mind.


An alternative to expensive commercial aluminum stretcher-bar systems that in large sizes incur exorbitant freight fees.


To address fluctuations in surface stress related to maturation and environmental conditions, the system must empower conservationists with methods of intervention well into posterity.


Light-weight framing that provides a deep and substantial appearance for the final stretched substrate. Yet, the system should also accommodate shallow depth preferences.

Local Hardware

Must incorporate off-the-shelf hardware and materials from local stores to eliminate special-order and freight concerns.

Does Florida Stretchers Cost?

No, the system is freely available. I documented the stretcher-bar method as part of an academic internship.



Yours to Customize


During my MFA coursework at SCAD I constructed my first large canvas, while encountering numerous problems and structural issues related to building larger frameworks. Years ago I discovered an article about a new way to stretch canvases, which introduced aging issues for consideration. My initial large stretcher did not address tension adjustments and required restretching due to flimsy wood and other missteps causing sag. I wanted to learn more about conservation and fluctuating tensions in stretched fabric. Commercial alternatives are an option for some artists; however, the cost of aluminum solutions with hefty freight fees meant they were financially prohibitive. Also, I wanted a personal system based on self-reliance, so I began designing a flexible aluminum stretcher system I could use for large work using off-the-shelf materials at local hardware stores. Screen enclosure aluminum is readily available at Home Depot and informs the system's moniker.

After some trial-and-error I had notes, a system, and took a few pictures along the way to document the system, subsequently sharing it with a professor. He suggested that I make a video for students. While they're cheaper than commercial solutions, the project requires a budget, planning, and significant time and I had no experience creating videos so I dismissed the suggestion. But, this past spring I created an internship opportunity out of producing and documenting Florida Stretchers.

Along the way I also prepared a demonstration model with the intent to donate the work and system to the broader artist community to modify for their purposes. And, that is how this project emerged. The enclosed system is for artists to take and use as-is, or custom tailor as a template and foundation for your own ideas and project needs. Florida Stretchers provided new areas of learning and is perhaps a little hokey. But, it is also a first attempt at video, 3D, and animation. I do hope you find it useful.

Marc Bridger