I'm working on a piece for a group show at The Center for Contemporary Arts here in Abilene. Thought I'd show it from the beginning since I'm actually stretching a canvas for it. Usually I depend on pre-stretched canvases I buy online from Dick Blick or ASW. However, I happened to have an old frame of 12" by 24" size stretchers hanging around and that's the size I wanted. Initially, I began by stapling about three staples in the middle of the long side, flipping it to the opposite side, stretching it tightly and then stapling three directly across from the first ones. Then, I did the same to the short sides. The canvas grippers help make sure it's tight enough. Just have to continue switching off and maintaining symmetry with my staples. I have to be careful about doing this too tightly which causes it to warp. (very annoying and sometimes it doesn't warp until you apply the gesso)
I think I've gotten the proper and even tension throughout. Tucking in the corners helps finish the back. Later I'll trim the canvas more neatly.
Now I'm ready to put down the first coat of gesso. I have lightly misted the canvas with water to help the gesso to soak in. Later coats I won't need to do this. I'll probably end up with two or three coats depending on how it looks. It helps to change the direction of the brushstrokes with each coat so you don't get a dominate texture from the gesso.