Podcast 264 : Breathing Color Timeless Lamination Process (Video)

by | Oct 19, 2010 | Gear, Podcast, Printing, Videos | 38 comments

Following some great communication with the Breathing Color Team over the last week, here’s a video to share a new process for laminating Breathing Color Lyve Canvas with their Timeless Laminate.

This is pretty much where I’d got with my initial experimentation, though now, based on new advice from Breathing Color, we apply the laminate with the roller, rather than pouring it onto the canvas and spreading it out from there.

You can also view the embedded video on your iPad, thanks to a recent Vimeo update!


OK, so following more experimentation, I’m really pleased to tell you that this process is now so easy that a monkey could make a good job of it. The remaining problem of the white flakes of congealed laminate that stuck to the canvas and ruined it during some of my earlier attempts was caused by the foam rollers that I bought from Breathing Color. I got some different rollers, ones with short hairs on them, not made of foam, and they worked a treat.

The application was easier, and I was able to laminate four 24×36 inch canvas prints with one roller. I then went on to laminate two more fine art prints and two more smaller canvases as an experiment, and I did not see the white flakes at all. I was also able to roll a little longer to work out the lines that sometimes appear on the canvas, but it wasn’t necessary to roll any of the four canvases for more than a minute or two. They have now dried and look great! I’m now totally happy with my decision to buy into the Breathing Color Lyve Canvas and Timeless Matte Laminate system.

Thanks again to the guys at Breathing Color for their incredible customer service, patience and help, as we worked through the earlier problems.

$20 Discount!

Breathing Color have also kindly provided a $20 discount for MBP community members. Enter the code MBP20 when checking out for $20 off any order of $20 or more.

If you haven’t tried Breathing Color products yet this might be a great time to try. For example, you could pick up a roll of 17″ x 20′ Lyve Canvas for just $9 with this discount! You could also add a pint of Timeless Laminate too, and give the process a try for yourself. If you go for the Matte Timeless though, don’t buy the foam rollers from Breathing Color! 🙂

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  1. Jack Johnson

    Thanks very much for these videos, Martin! I’ve stuck with the Hahnemuhle & Print Shield canned sprays because of the problems I had rolling out the liquid laminates I tried. I think I’ll give it another shot using your new method…

    – Jack

  2. Owin Thomas

    Hm not sure if that is for me. I think a spray coating would work better. Don’t they provide the laminate thin enough to be able to put it in a spray gun, surely that would be a better application method?

    Thanks for the video on how to do it though, Martin. Keep us up to date on the failure rate, a 33% failure rate is too high.


  3. Martin Bailey

    Hi Jack,

    I can’t get the Hahnemuhle spray here in Japan, which I the initial reason I looked into Breathing Color products. From what I’ve heard though, the Hahnemuhle spray doesn’t really protect the canvas from cracking on the corners when stretched, which is a problem for me. The Breathing Color laminates really sink into the canvas, and kind of rubberize it, making it very strong, so I think it’s worth the extra effort.

    Hi Owin,

    Yes, you can spray the Timeless laminates, but I don’t really have the space to do so. Also, once I’ve figured out what the problem is with these white flakes appearing after doing more than a few canvases with the same roller, I actually think the roller method will be pretty easy, after a little more practice.

    I will certainly let you know how the failure rate improves. I’m going to try some different rollers soon, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

    Thanks for the comments guys!


  4. Jack Johnson

    Hi, Martin –

    You’re right about the cracking – the sprays I’ve tried have been totally surface solutions, and don’t provide the same protection as the liquid laminate. I’d also rather not deal with the potential health issues of the sprays, although my cartridge mask & protective goggles seem to do a pretty good job of limiting my exposure.

    Thanks again,

    – Jack

  5. Martin Bailey

    That’s a good point about the potential health issues too Jack.

    Thanks for confirming about the cracking. I haven’t actually tried the Hahnemuhle spray (as I can’t get it here) but that’s what I’d heard.

    I just stretched two 20×30 inch canvases onto the stretcher bars, including the one in the video, and they both look great, and no cracking around the edges. The Timeless Laminate is great! I can’t wait to figure out the problem with the white flakes, and then it will be perfect!


  6. Jack Johnson

    How’s the scuff protection with the Timeless Laminate? The sprays provide only limited scuff protection, even after my typical 6-8 light coats…

    – Jack

  7. Martin Bailey

    > How’s the scuff protection with the Timeless Laminate?


    I didn’t have the heart to try scuffing a full sized print, but I took a fingernail to a small sample that I made, and although it initially turned white where I scratched the surface, when I (sorry about this) licked my finger and gave it a rub, the scuff went away and didn’t come back. The canvas becomes very strong after lamination.


  8. Jack Johnson

    Cool – thanks again for sharing your experience!
    – Jack

  9. Landon

    I have yet to try this new product line Martin. Thanks for getting it sorted out and giving us a looksee.

    The Glamour II coating and other Breathing Color canvas I have used have really held up well. I have some BIG canvas prints mounted on 2″ stretcher bars stretched as tight as drum and no cracking or separation of any kind. The laminate, ink and canvas really do become one product in the final result.

    Usually recommend to end clients to just dust it with a “swiffer” though a more aggressive soft damp cloth cleaning certainly does not hurt it unless you start applying chemicals or scrub hard or something.

    Knocking the corners against car doors, floor, street, walls etc it about the only damage you have to watch out for, but if you transport properly, they are very durable.


  10. Martin Bailey

    Hi Landon,

    No problem on the looksee. Thanks for putting me onto Breathing Color in the first place. 🙂

    The Timeless Laminate also becomes one with the canvas and ink. It takes on a kind of rubberized look. I do like the matte finish of the Timeless Matte though. I have a pint of Satin and Gloss Timeless as well, that I’ll probably try at some point too. I heard from the Breathing Color guys that these are easier to apply.

    The Matte Timeless is turning out to be really easy to apply, and fast! I’m going to try with some different rollers soon, which will probably solve the congealing/white flakes problem too.

    I will be suggesting to customers that a quick dust off is enough, though a wipe with a damp cloth is OK if necessary. I can imagine any chemicals would not be a good idea.

    Thanks for the update Landon!


  11. gary g

    can this timeless laminate be used on the hahnemuhle canvases (monet and dag) since i want to experiment with their framing bars and get a fuji sprayer, but i do not know what’s best for hahnemuhles two…
    also, is timeless suited for any types of papers as well, like if i had some of hahnemuhles etching papers and their FAP and harmons baryta fb?
    thanks, since i cannot tell if timeless is a general protectant or just suited to match their companys canvases.

  12. Martin Bailey

    I will ask for confirmation, but on their web site, Breathing Color say:
    “Timeless is a proprietary water-based, non-yellowing print varnish that has been developed to protect, preserve and enhance fine art and photographic prints produced on digital inkjet printers.”

    I have also just finished laminating four more prints and I have finally cracked it. I’ll update the above post, but the problem with the white flakes was the roller. I used a new type of roller today and had no problems at all.

    I also had some Timeless left in the tray, so I laminated some Hahmehmuhle Daguerre canvas, and some Museum Etching and Bright White Photo Rag. After about 30 minutes drying, they all look great so far, except the Museum Etching seems to have sucked up a lot of laminate, and the paper looks a little bloated still. I’ll give this more time to dry and update you again later.

    There were significantly more bubbles that came out of the Daguerre canvases initially, but because I could now roll the print for longer without the dreaded white flakes appearing, it was no problem to keep rolling until it was nice and smooth.

    By the way Gary, if your aim is to laminate a canvas, I really don’t know why you would continue to use Hahnemuhle, even if you can. The Lyve Canvas is spectacular, and about 70% the cost of Daguerre from Hahnemuhle, and Breathing Color do the same kind of stretcher bars etc.

    Don’t get me wrong, Hahnemuhle make great stuff, but the Breathing Color at least rivals Daguerre, if not beats it, and the laminate and stretcher bars are are right there too.

    If you use the code MBP20 when you check out at Breathing Color, you’ll get $20 off your order too, so it might be a good time to try one of their trial rolls.

  13. gary g

    Thanks so much for the update and details.
    Since I am planning to get a fuji sprayer (previously I only used Hahne’s spraycans) it would be nice to know I would only need one ‘line’ of laminate like timeless (which I guess it is best to get some of both gloss and matte and then experiment with mixing %s on various papers/canvas).

    I just canceled my hahne wrap bars and canvas rolls, and will try to use BCs framing and their lyve canvas as a sub for daguerre, do you have a recommendation for replacing hahnes ‘monet’ canvas in the BC lineup? All I know is daguerre is pushed for photos and monet is pushed for fine-art repros.

    thanks again, I look forward to any updates on that etching and even a hahne photo rag 308 and thanks for that promo code you’ve offered up everyone. Now I’ll see what I can find out about using timeless with booksmarts fine art metals…

  14. Martin Bailey

    No problem Gary. I’m happy to help.

    I also bought a pint of gloss and satin Timeless, but I’ve yet to try them. I really like the matte though. It just disappears once dry, leaving the canvas looking very natural. I’m sure the gloss and satin are great too though.

    I have tried Monet canvas only in 8.5×11 inch sheets, but it was nice. My roll canvas from Hahnemuhle was Daguerre, which was also nice, but having tried the Breathing Color Lyve Canvas, there’s no going back for me. The look of Lyve Canvas is perhaps somewhere between Daguerre and Monet from Hahnemuhle.

    I haven’t done full tests to compare, but the Lyve Canvas seems to have a wider dynamic range than the Hahnemuhle canvases. I’ve done some incredibly vivid color prints, and a number of black and whites now, and I’m more impressed with the Lyve Canvas with each print that I do.

    On the tests that I did yesterday, I found that Timeless Laminate Matte worked very well on Hahnemuhle’s Daguerre canvas. It dried perfectly, looking very much the same as it does on Breathing Color Lyve Canvas, basically disappearing.

    The Bright White Photo Rag that I coated also looks very good. The Museum Etching had problems though. Even after drying for 24 hours, there are nasty pale patches in the blue sky of the photo I’d printed.

    I also mailed the guys at Breathing Color for information on whether this is a supported use or not. I’ll let you know when I receive a reply.


  15. Martin Bailey

    I received an update from Breathing Color about using Timeless Laminates with third party canvas and papers.

    Breathing Color Says:
    We manufacture our topcoat laminates specifically for our products. We do not test these laminates with any other canvas or paper and therefore cannot definitively say whether they will work or not. The beauty of our products are that they are all designed by the same manufacturer and were designed to work well together. You can have the best canvas in the world and the best laminate in the world, it doesn’t mean they will work well together if they weren’t specifically designed to do so.

    That said, we always recommend that people do exactly what you (Martin) have done, try it. If the print is acceptable to your satisfaction after it has dried, it is more than likely okay to use. Because Timeless is a water-based coating, it is very important to use on a water-resistant media. If you apply it to a glossy canvas or paper that is not very water-resistant, it will take the ink right off. We encourage people to experiment with our products but always do so on a scrap piece as opposed to using it for the first time on an important job.

    At the end of the day, we manufacture the highest quality canvas in the industry and offer an incredible coating that was designed specifically for it. 99% of our customers use our products with each other. I do however recognize that the very nature of fine artists and photographers is to experiment and “play” with different techniques and mediums, so play away!

  16. Magnusson

    First I want to thank you for a great blog! 😀 I’m just curious how long it takes for the Timeless to dry before the canvas can be gallery wrapped? And say that if I’ve got a lamination station and a drying station. Is it safe to lift the canvas immediately after the lamination or do I have to wait?

  17. Martin Bailey

    Thanks Magnusson!

    I haven’t really tested a shortest time. They look dry after an hour or so, but I always give my canvases a full day to dry before wrapping them.

    You can certainly move them straight away. I use two rooms when laminating, and try to do a few at a time. I basically laminate them in my office/studio, then as soon as I’m done with one, I take it to a second room, and lay it on the floor to dry. I cover the floor with thin vinyl first (the sort that interior decorators use to cover furniture etc.) to protect the floor from the laminate around the edges of the canvas. I leave them there to dry for a day before I wrap them.

    In case you didn’t notice the updates, note too that I have now really cracked the process, by buying some better quality short hair rollers. The rollers from BC are not compatible with their Timeless Matte Laminate.

    I hope this helps.


  18. Magnusson

    Thx for the reply and great that you figured out where the flakes came from! I will definitely try the Lyve Canvas and Timeless laminate. I’m in the process of buying a 24″ printer and for the moment I’m choosing between the HP Z3200 and the Canon IPF6350. I saw that you’re using the Canon IPF6350. Any special reasons you choose to buy it?

  19. Martin Bailey

    No problem Magnusson,

    For the price, you can’t go wrong with the iPF6350. It’s fast, and with 12 ink cartridges, it has a huge color gamut. If I didn’t buy this, I would have gone for the 8300, it’s 44″ big brother, but I don’t have room for the 8300 in my office/studio.

    If you buy some Breathing Color stuff, don’t forget to use our voucher MBP20 for a $20 discount on your order.


  20. Brad

    Well, I’m still not getting good results with Timeless (Satin) on prints larger than about 20″x16″. I’m getting everything from roller marks to pin-holes that I just can’t seem to remove according to the published procedures and FAQs. The roller markes and pin-holes (regions that look roughish as if the coating has not been applied) are especially noticeable on images with larger solid-colour areas.

    It doesn’t help that you say you now have the procedure to the point that even a monkey can do it–THIS monkey certainly can’t seem to get it right! 🙂

    I’m getting a bit desparate here. For larger prints, I’m probably going to have to go back to Glamour II, despite the mixing and longer drying times. The self-leveling agents in Glamour II make it very forgiving for people like me.

    Anyone else having the same problems as I am having? Any further suggestions and tips on getting Timeless to apply correctly?

    Thanks so much.


  21. Martin Bailey

    Sorry to hear that Brad.

    Just to reiterate the key points, just in case, ensure that you get good quality rollers. Short hair rollers work best. Forget the ones that BC sell, they don’t work with Timeless.

    Apply a lot, very quickly, then stop. I literally load the roller, apply one stroke, then reload the roller, and apply a second. In about 20 to 30 seconds, I have the entire canvas coated, then I roll the whole thing horizontally then vertically a couple of times, taking around one minute, then I stop.

    I use strong, heavy handed strokes, until the last few, when I ease off a little. It’s rough and ready, but it works.

    If you still don’t have success with this kind of application, I’m out of ideas, but I do hope this helps.

    Good luck!


  22. Brad

    Hi, Martin. I really need to beat this because I love the finish I get with the Timeless Satin. And (*if it works*) it eliminates mixing time and reduces drying time significantly.

    I just did a 30″x24 plus wrap borders and it is a mess with roller marks. However, earlier this week I did a bunch of smaller pieces and they were fine. What is the largest print you’ve done successfully?

    I’m using dense 6″ foam rollers I get from the local paint supply store. I take up as much liquid into the roller as possible and then apply with very firm pressure to press the coating out of the roller and into the canvas texture (my interpretation of BC’s instructions). I’m wondering if my pressure is TOO firm as this does leave track lines along where the end of the rollers have run. If the pressure isn’t firm enough, then there are gaps in the application. On smaller prints, there is time before the track lines dry too much to go back and roll them out. On larger prints, they set too quickly and they won’t come out. Very frustrating.

    I thought someone on this blog mentioned a commercially available leveling agent that can be added to a liquid and it takes only a very small amount to eliminate bubbles and allow the liquid to absorb into the material. I can’t find that reference any more. Do you recall that?

    Thanks so much for the blog.



  23. Martin Bailey

    Hi Brad,

    The majority of the prints I’ve done are 20×30″, and this is the largest size I’ve done to date.

    I too get the roller lines on my first application, but then I roll over them on my very quick second and third heavy rolls, and my vertical rolls, with the initial rolls being horizontal. When I’m finished rolling, I do sometimes see the remains of lines, though they are faint, and they disappear after the canvas dries.

    One thing that might be a a problem is that you are using foam rollers. The ones from Breathing Color were foam, and I found that to be the cause of my problem. The laminate congeals inside the foam, then sticks onto the canvas after a few minutes of rolling, say on the second or third canvas, when I try to laminate multiple prints in one session.

    You might want to try to find some rollers with short hairs, instead of foam. That’s what’s working for me now.

    I don’t recall seeing a reference to a leveling agent, sorry.


  24. Brad

    Good point about the laminate congealing inside the foam. I’ll look into the other type.

    I have a bunch of small prints to coat tomorrow–wish me success!



  25. mosleyh

    Thanks for these videos. I’ve been debating switching to BC’s Timeless laminate but was put off by the “puddle” application method that they recommended.

    The method that you show in the video is very similar to the one that I use, with one difference. I previously had problems with dust and hairs settling on the print during and after coating. For that reason, plus the space savings, I switched to a vertical method.

    I purchased a 4′ x 8′ sheet of 3/4″ plywood which I hug on one wall of my workshop. When I need to apply a coating to a canvas, I staple it to the board and roll the coating on.

    I’ve had good results with 3/8″ nap microfiber rollers made in the states by a company called Whizz. I imagine that there are similar products available in Europe and elsewhere.

  26. Martin Bailey

    Good luck with your laminating today Brad!


    The puddle application method is outdated. You can’t use Timeless like that – especially the matte – it doesn’t work.

    I really like the idea of hanging the prints vertically for coating. Not only would that stop dust settling on the print during lamination, which does sometimes happen and can cause problems if you don’t get it off quickly, but it also saves space. I could hang the print using heavy duty clips attached to the top of the board, then staple the bottom edge. Great idea!!

    Thanks for sharing Mosleyh!

  27. mosleyh

    Happy to return the favor, Martin.

    I initially tried clips rather than staples, but I found that I kept bumping the clips with the paint roller, which threw off my rhythm and squeesed a bit of extra coating out onto the print. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    If anone else tries this method, make sure that you have a heavy duty staple remover (the kind that pries them out) or you’ll spend extra time trying to release the finished print from the board.

  28. Martin Bailey

    I see. That makes sense. I was thinking that I didn’t want to make lots of little holes in the board, but I guess that’s not really going to make much difference to the coating process. Good point.


  29. mosleyh

    One last tidbit: depending upon how the lighting is set in your work area, it may be helpful to arrange a side light. I use a cheap clamp-on light fixture with a standard bulb. The side lighting really helps you visualize how the coating is going down, and makes it much easier to spot areas with uneven coverage.

    I just coated my first Lyve print (a 14″ x 50″ panorama) with timeless. The application was a snap, and the print looks great!

  30. Martin Bailey

    Yes, I was thinking that lighting would be important to see how the application is going. The side light sounds great.

    Thanks again for all of these tidbits Moseley! Great stuff!

    Congrats on your panorama too. It sounds great.


  31. Brad

    I seem to be getting better at the Timeless application, but there are still minor issues. E.g. some prints don’t want to take up the coating evenly so that if you look across the print at a low angle, you can see rough patches. I’m not sure if these are so-called “pin holes” but the prints had dried for at least 24 hours and I had worked the coating in very well. But overall it is getting better.

    I got furry multicoloured non-foam roller refills from Home Depot. They were the shortest nap available, 1/4″ I believe, and lint-free. However, they take up far too much liquid and tend to smear it on very thickly without actually rolling. In my first (and only) use, I almost panicked when I saw how the coating was going on but I quickly switched to a foam roller and managed to smooth it out to a fine finished. “Fine” except for the great lint clumps that were left behind by the furry roller! Fortunately, I could pick them out with a fine-tipped paint brush and smooth out the pock marks before everything was too dry.

    So Martin, can you tell me which specific brand of roller refills you’re using and I’ll try to find those over here on Vancouver Island.

    @mosleyh, congratulations on getting excellent results with Timeless on your first time out!

  32. Martin Bailey

    Glad this is getting easier for you Brad!

    If you can see rough patches on the print, I might be wrong, but it makes me think that you didn’t apply enough Timeless. For the first application, I literally reload the roller for every stroke. The only time I’ve seen rough patches was when I was trying to roll out the laminate a little more sparingly. I don’t do that now. Just slop it on!

    The rollers smearing the laminate on is not good, I agree. Maybe they aren’t turning freely enough on the handle. I can’t imagine taking up too much of the laminate being much of a problem in itself, but I know that can make them all slippery.

    If the lint clumps came from your lint-free furry roller, that’s unfortunate too.

    I’ve thrown the patching for my rollers out, so I can’t tell you the brand until I visit the DIY store again. I doubt that you’ll be able to find them in the States though. Mosleyh says he’s using 3/8″ nap microfiber rollers made in the states by a company called Whizz, so maybe you could find some of these.


  33. Jon Kolkin

    I have not been as fond of printing on canvas but use the Somerset Museum Rag which is quite porous but has a wonderful texture along with the Moab Silver Rag which is a semigloss paper. I am desperately looking for a coating that will protect them from scuffs and scratches as I like to exhibit my work without glass or plexiglass. Any updates on using Timeless for various types of paper? Any updated experience/tips using a roller vs spray.

    Anything new on the market to consider instead of Timeless?

    Thank you for any insights.


    • Martin Bailey

      Hi Jon,

      Breathing Color say that you can use their Timeless Laminate on fine art papers as well as canvas, but they obviously don’t test third party papers. I’d suggest buying a pint of Timeless and their Timeless Roller and giving it a try with your paper. I found some good rollers, but have stopped using them in favor of the Timeless Roller now. They work very well. You still have to make your application quick, but the larger roller makes that easy too.


  34. Daniel Murphy

    Thanks for the promo code. I ordered a trial size of the Matt Timeless. I’ve spent tons of time researching various mounting and laminating techniques for displaying my 30 x 20 prints so this page helps out quite a bit. Hopefully I will come back here and let you know how it went. I will be sure and test out a couple of smaller prints before throwing myself in the fire with my bigger prints.

    • Martin Bailey

      You’re welcome Daniel! Please note that since this video, I’ve stopped trimming the excess canvas from around the wooden frame, and now staple it to the back of the stretcher bars. This isn’t necessary with Lyve Canvas, but some of the newer BC Canvases require this, so I’ve started to do it with all gallery wraps.

  35. Daniel Murphy

    Hi Martin,

    Since my last comment, I have been perfecting my method for framing, mounting, and laminating my prints and wrote an article here:

    I tried the 1/4 inch nap roller but it left frustrating little fussies everywhere. I then tried using a compressed air gun and performs beautifully!

    Thanks for your expert advice and will continue to read your blog and RSS feeds!

    • Martin Bailey

      Hi Daniel,

      Great article!

      I’m now happy with my own roll-on lamination process, using the Breathing Color Timeless Roller, but I wish I had the facilities to spray. It just isn’t possible here in my Tokyo apartment. It’s not a huge issue for me, but it would be nice if I ever move to somewhere with more room.



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