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How to Make a Reverse Canvas: Easy & Inexpensive Framed Art!

Learn how to make a reverse canvas sign with this simple tutorial! This fun method is a great way to easily create inexpensive framed art in no time.

Just deconstruct a basic wrapped canvas and reuse its own frame. So easy!

Make a Reverse Canvas.

 

How to Make a Reverse Canvas: Easy & Inexpensive Framed Art!

I first saw this method for making signs a few months ago via tutorials from Weekend Craft and A Girl and A Glue Gun. After seeing them, I definitely had a “Now why didn’t I think of that before??” moment.

Seriously. This method is SO straight-forward, painfully, obviously GENIUS that I can’t believe it’s just now a thing.

This is a game changer for all of us who love making our own DIY signs.

 

 

So, What is a Reverse Canvas?

When making a reverse canvas, you’re turning a basic wrapped canvas that you can find on the cheap at any craft store into a framed canvas sign or art piece.

Instead of having the canvas wrap around the front of the frame, you’re moving it to the back and showcasing the frame too rather than having it hidden behind the canvas.

You’re reversing the placement of the canvas. Get it??

All you have to do is:

  1. Remove the canvas from the frame
  2. Paint/stain the frame
  3. Add design element(s) to the canvas
  4. Reattach the canvas to the back of the frame

SO SIMPLE!

 

Reverse Canvas Supplies

Here are the supplies used to make a reverse canvas:

 

Step 1: Remove the Canvas from the Frame

The first step in this process is removing the wrapped canvas from its frame.

Just place the wrapped canvas on a table facedown, then grab a utility knife or X-Acto knife and start slicing through the canvas along the OUTSIDE of the staples.

Make a Reverse Canvas.

 

Here’s what you’ll end up with: the canvas sheet and the bare frame.

The remaining strips of canvas that are still stapled to the back of the frame can easily be pulled out and discarded, but don’t worry about removing the staples.

Since you’ll be reattaching the canvas in a bit, they’ll end up being covered.

Also, at this point, you can trim the canvas to size if you’d like, or do it later once you’re ready to reattach it.

I did this part later after applying my design so I was certain my design would be centered.

Reverse canvas with canvas removed from frame.

 

Step 2: Prep the Frame

Now you can move on to the frame. I had NO idea such a cute little thing was hiding in plain sight all this time!

The wood is bare, so you can stain it or paint it any color under the sun.

FYI: Since these canvases are inexpensive and their frames are hidden, the wood is not exactly…shall we say…top quality.

However, it’s still good enough to make a fun little project. Don’t worry if you need to do a little sanding first to smooth everything out.

Make a Reverse Canvas by painting or staining the frame.

 

Step 3: Apply Design Element(s) to Canvas

While the canvas is off of the frame, you can go ahead and apply your design element(s). Or this step can also be done AFTER your canvas has been reattached…whatever you prefer.

For this particular project, I applied a heat transfer vinyl (HTV) decal, so I wanted to add it to the canvas before reattaching it to the frame.

That way I had free range of movement for my iron without the frame getting in the way. (If you’d like to see how to use HTV, check out one of these tutorials!)

***NOTE: Make sure you size your design so it fits INSIDE the frame. My wrapped canvas started as a 9×12, but the dimensions for inside the frame are 7×10.

Make a Reverse Canvas using a heat transfer vinyl decal.

 

Here’s how my components looked at this point:

How to Make a Reverse Canvas.

 

Step 4: Reattach the Canvas to the Frame

Once the frame is dry, you can reattach the canvas to the back.

I first centered my design in the middle, then used some thumb tacks to temporarily hold it in place.

I also trimmed off the edges of the canvas so nothing would be visible outside of the frame (and as you can see, I struggle with cutting a straight line).

Back of a Reverse Canvas.

 

As soon as my hot glue gun was warmed up, I permanently attached the canvas along all four edges and removed the thumb tacks. A staple gun would work fine too.

Depending on your project, you might be finished now! Hooray!

I, however, had one more step to do.

Attaching the back to a Reverse Canvas.

 

Here’s how it looks: not too pretty, but hey, that’s why it’s the back!

If you’re feeling extra frisky or giving your creation away as a gift (or selling it), you could always cover the entire backside with a piece of felt or fabric. That way, both sides of the sign are equally presentable.

Since this sign is going to have a home on a shelf in my craft room, I left this as is. No shame in my game!

How to Make a Reverse Canvas.

 

Optional Step 5: Apply Additional Design Elements if Needed

With this particular flower truck sign, I had some 3D paper flowers to apply.

Therefore, this step needed to be done AFTER the canvas was reattached to the frame so the flowers wouldn’t get crushed. I also added a small pink vinyl decal too.

Depending on your project, you may or may not need to add any additional elements here (or maybe even your only design component) and can of course skip this part if needed.

And with this step now completed…we’re finished! Woot Woot!

Making a Reverse Canvas.

 

The Finished Reverse Canvas Sign!

Here’s how my first reverse canvas sign turned out! Super cute, no??

This flower truck beauty is just the brightest, most cheerful sign and it looks absolutely adorable in my craft room.

If you’d like to see the full tutorial with all the juicy details on this Spring flower truck sign, check this out!

I had SO much fun with this project and I can’t believe how easy this whole reverse canvas method is. Much easier than any wood sign I’ve made.

I’ll definitely be making a bunch more of these in the future!

Glittery Flower Truck Reverse Canvas Sign.

Glittery Flower Truck Reverse Canvas Sign.

 

Quite the transformation, huh?

How to Make a Reverse Canvas.

 

More Reverse Canvas Sign Fun!

Don’t miss these other reverse canvas sign ideas!


 
Yield: One reverse canvas sign

How to Make a Reverse Canvas

How to Make a Reverse Canvas: Easy & Inexpensive Framed Art! | Where The Smiles Have Been #reversecanvas #canvas #sign #framedart #DIY #howto

Learn how to make a reverse canvas in no time! It's a great way to create inexpensive framed art. Just deconstruct a basic wrapped canvas and reuse its own frame. So easy!

Active Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $10

Materials

Instructions

  1. Using a utility or X-Acto knife, remove the wrapped canvas from the back of the frame.
  2. Prep the frame with sandpaper (if necessary) and paint or stain. Let dry.
  3. Apply the design elements to the canvas sheet.
  4. Trim the canvas sheet and reattach it to the back of the frame using either a hot glue gun or staple gun.
  5. Optional step: Attach any additional design elements.

Notes

  • Make sure you size your design so it fits INSIDE the frame.
  • You can also apply a sheet of felt to the back to give it a clean, finished look.

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Please leave a comment below or share on Pinterest!

 

If You Enjoyed This…

Make sure you check out my Project Gallery for lots of other fun crafty creations, tips, and freebies!

 

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Where The Smiles Have Been | Crafts. DIY. Home. Mom Life.

Kymberli

Sunday 31st of May 2020

This is great! I was looking for an inexpensive way to frame some artwork and I found your blog! Awesome, I’m super excited to try it out! I’ll be sure to share with others! Thanks!

Nicole

Saturday 16th of November 2019

Great tutorial! What do you suggest using for hanging one of these on the wall?

Christine

Sunday 17th of November 2019

Thanks, Nicole! These are so lightweight, I think using some Command Strips would work great!

Kimberly

Monday 15th of July 2019

Hello,

Thank you very much for this clear and concise tutorial.

I’d read the term “reverse canvas art” mentioned in a few reviews on Amazon, where I have been buying canvases for acrylic painting and I was unfamiliar with it. After Googling the definition, I came across your bright and colorful website.

This tutorial is particularly timely in its helpfulness to me because I’m about to start doing some paintings to decorate my hallways and, unlike my previous works, I prefer these to have a framed look. So, I was kicking the dust in annoyance at having to go through the trouble of having a bunch of pictures framed. But, now, I can just flip the canvas and do it myself! I, and my apartment hallways, thank you deeply.

Christine

Sunday 17th of November 2019

Oh Kimberly, your comment gave me the biggest smile! That is so great to hear! :) Have fun decorating your hallways!!

Melanie

Monday 20th of May 2019

This is an easy to follow tutorial. Thank you for sharing!!

Christine

Sunday 17th of November 2019

I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed this, Melanie!

Kay Gee

Saturday 16th of February 2019

It’s pretty clear you used two different frames. The finished one has inserts for the glass you removed and a raised edge all the way around. It’s a cute project and the finished project is cute, but if you really had used the canvas frame the face of the finished project would be flat and it would have a simpler, more home-spun look.

Abril

Saturday 22nd of June 2019

Those inserts are not for glass. They are for the canvas pegs in case the stretched canvas (when used as intended) needs to be tighten then you insert those pegs (which normally are in the back) and hammer them until the canvas is tight again. The raised edge makes the canvas wrap around the edge smoothly while keeps it separate from most the wood part (for the front painted portion of it). So she did used the same one though in this project the inserts become unnecessary and the raised edge becomes more of a decorative part of the repurposed frame. Cute project.

Christine

Saturday 16th of February 2019

Nope, sorry Kay! This is the frame that was a part of the wrapped canvas, not a frame with glass. The back has staples and is flat, but the front (which was wrapped) has the raised edge. You can clearly see this in the photos (as well as in all of my other reverse canvas projects). No swapped-frame-smoke-and-mirrors here. Thanks for the input though!

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