Since time immemorial, mankind has been involved in art and has found new ways to express his artistic emotions. And cloth has been one of the favourite avenues to execute an artistic touch.
Canvas is a strong and durable fabric, which was traditionally made with hemp. In modern times, it has been replaced with cotton, linen and poly-cotton blends (a mix of cotton and polyester). As compared to hard and glossy surfaces such as glass and metal, canvas is a substrate which is hard to print on, because it mostly does not receive the ink quite well.
Canvas is basically cloth, so it displays behaviours you would normally expect from any general cloth such as absorbing paints and shrinking. So here are some tips to be kept in mind while working on a canvas to be able to execute your work more effectively.
- Poly Cotton Blends are easier to work with
Many people prefer pure cotton canvas for their prints, as it is long-lasting and has a look which is closer to what you would find in a museum. But since it absorbs the colour to a large degree, the colours are not reproduced perfectly. On the other hand, poly-cotton blends offer many advantages of their own. There is more exactness of colour, so they give bold and vivid prints. They are more resistant to environmental conditions. They are also able to handle liquid laminates better. Above all, they are definitely more affordable than their cotton counterparts.
- Any canvas will shrink
After the picture on the canvas is over, it is treated with a water-based clear coat known as a liquid laminate, to protect the inks on the canvas. Due to this, the canvas shrinks in size and it is applicable to canvas made up of any material (although poly-cotton blends shrink lesser than cotton ones).
So it is always a good idea to leave sufficient margins on all sides (1/8th of an inch is good) so as to have a final product matching the intended size.
- Be ready for the stretch
Canvas is a fabric, so it has a certain degree of elasticity attached to it. It stretches when it is put to stretcher bars and mounted on a frame. As a result, a small fraction of the image will appear to wrap around onto the sides.
So you are advised to keep the image’s subject matter and other important elements away from the edges, to accommodate any stretch.
- Canvas prints need to be coated
After you are done with the printing, you would seriously want to coat your canvas with a liquid laminate. This protects the fabric from accidental scuffs and scratches, protects the ink from environmental corrosion and prevents shrinking of the canvas over time.
You can opt for a high quality water-based acrylic coating, which would effectively protect the prints, and does not emit any toxic or pungent fumes.
- Canvas is an organic fabric, so it breathes and changes
Unlike synthetic materials like polymer and plastics, canvas is sourced from plants and thus is an organic fibre. So even if you get it from the best canvas print company, it is highly sensitive to changes in the temperature and humidity of the environment. The results may be a shrinking of the canvas and degradation of colour definition. To prevent this, you can use canvas tightening sprays which are readily available in the market. These sprays coat the canvas with a protective and invisible film, which prevents the environment from corroding the quality of the fabric, and also provides strength to the fabric.
- Paint on the Print
Even though canvas is used extensively for printing, you can paint on the print if you wish to. It does not matter whether you are using a matte or a gloss canvas, because the protective coating prevents the paints from bleeding into the inks and smudging them.
- Canvas is delicate
For maintaining the longevity of your canvas print, you need to protect it from accidental wear and tear, exposure to sunlight or moisture, accidental spills and high temperatures. You should keep it at a suitable height, away from the reach of children. Because if your child scribbles on the canvas with crayons, you are in for some modern piece of art no museum has ever seen!