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

Why create Florida Stretchers?

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 a great article about a new way to stretch canvases which introduced aging issues for consideration. My initial large stretcher did not address tension over time and I had to re-stretch the canvas due to flimsy wood and other missteps causing sag. Thus, I wanted to learn more about conservation concerns and fluctuating tensions in stretched fabric. Commercial alternatives are a great option for some artists; however, the cost of commercial aluminum solutions along with hefty freight fees meant they were financially prohibitive. I wanted a personal system based on self-reliance.

With another large narrative looming I began designing a flexible aluminum stretcher system I could use for large work. A reliance on off-the-shelf materials at local hardware stores was important. However, extruded aluminum was the big unknown. I was sitting on my lanai in Florida surrounded by screens and those were attached to the answer: screen enclosure aluminum! I discovered the aluminum was readily available over at Home Depot. As such, this solution seemed a fitting influence for the system's moniker: Florida Stretchers.

After some trial-and-error I had notes, a system, and took a few pictures along the way. In a communication for my next course I attached an ancillary notation documenting the new stretcher. My professor was excited about the stretchers and suggested that I make a video for students. The more I thought about the video the more I realized what a massive undertaking it would be and very costly—as, these are big stretchers and while they're cheaper than commercial solutions the project requires a budget, planning, and significant time. Furthermore, I had never touched video editing software aside from "Movie-Maker" once and knew nothing about producing a video. Therefore, I dismissed the suggestion. But, this past spring I needed a second internship and pitched the idea of producing a tutorial video.

My idea was to assemble the stretcher system, create documentation, and prepare a demonstration model while donating the work and system to the broader artist community to modify for their own purposes. And, that is how this project emerged. Around eight weeks ago I started refining the system, writing documentation, and then buying materials to assemble a new Florida Stretcher. But this time around I had to shoot video clips! And, as indicated above, that was a problem—I didn't know anything about videos at the time.

So, as part of this internship experience, I referenced numerous video courses on Lynda.com, YouTube, and C4D Café. I began to learn a thing or two about three programs I had never touched around five or six weeks ago: Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Cinema 4D. And, wow, do I have an enormous new respect for the professionals that use those programs. I could not have done it without the superb talents at LinkedIn Learning and all over the internet that are kind enough to teach via tutorials. I relied on so many resources in this short window and I am very grateful to all those who contribute to our knowledge in this way.

As my quarter is at its end it is time to publish—please forgive any of its amateurish qualities. It's a system for artists to take and use as-is, or custom tailor as a template and foundation for your own ideas and project needs. Selfishly, though, Florida Stretchers was a vehicle for propelling me into new areas of learning. I do hope you find it useful and I am grateful you have taken the time to consider it for your artistic needs.

Marc Bridger