Today we’re going to look at the new Silverada Pearlescent Metallic Canvas from Breathing Color. As you’ll see, Breathing Color continues to outdo themselves when it comes to bringing the fine art printing community and industry exactly what they need to create top class prints easier and better than ever before.
This episode is brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create your own professional website, portfolio or online store. For a free trial and 10% off, go to squarespace.com and use offer code MBP.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, the first look that I usually get of a new type of media that I’m looking at, is the printed patch sheet that I use to create the ICC Profile that I’ll use for all future prints to that media. For the sake of any new listeners, I print mainly with a Canon iPF6350 imagePROGRAF 24″ large format printer, so as you know, any profile that I create like this is specific to this printer and media combination.
I’m always excited to see this patch sheet come out of the printer, as you can learn a lot about a new type of media just from this. You can see right off the bat that Silverada Pearlescent Silver Metallic canvas has the incredibly rich colours that we’re used to from Breathing Color, but they have once again increased the gamut with this media.
Silverada Canvas Patch Sheet
The gamut of a media and printer combination is the range of colours that can be reproduced on that paper or canvas on a specific device. Although Breathing Color media always has a huge colour gamut, you generally still find a few areas that won’t just print without a little adjustment, especially with lots of yellow-greens in the image, like the one we’ll look at in a moment, but when I soft-proofed the image I printed for my gallery wrap there were no areas of the print that were out of gamut, and that’s incredible.
Remember that to easily soft-proof an image, if you use Adobe Lightroom, you can just go the Develop module and then his the S key on your keyboard, to enter the “soft-proof” mode. You then have to select the ICC profile in the pulldown, but if I’m loosing you here, I’ve already covered soft-proofing is Episodes 215 and 319, so we won’t go over that again today.
When we print an image, we always have to consider what type of media we’ll select for a specific print, based on the image itself, and also where the image will be displayed. As you can see from the photo of the printed profile patch set, the pearlescent metallic properties of Silverada Canvas make it quite glossy and reflective, and this can cause problems if you intend to hang your print in a location with a bright light source in front of it.
Now, I have a location in my studio that I wanted to hang a print, in a dark corner that no window light shines directly into. I decided to print an image from Iceland last year to brighten up that corner of the room, and figured that the feel of the metallic canvas would give the image some luminance in that dark corner. I’ll give you a little more background shortly, but first, here’s a photo of the finished 20 x 30 inch Silverada gallery wrap, hung in my dark corner.
Landmannalaugar 20×30″ Silverada Canvas Gallery Wrap
I purposefully didn’t shine any light onto the image, but I hope that you can tell from this photo that the resulting gallery wrap has a certain luminance that I wouldn’t have achieved in this dark corner without the subtle reflectiveness of the Silverada Canvas.
Conversely, here is the same gallery wrap hung in the middle of another wall where there is a window opposite and slightly to the right. You can see how much light the right side of the canvas is reflecting, and so I want to impress on you here the importance of selecting your media with your display location and image in mind. I would not select Silverada for this image in this location, although my Lyve and Crystalline Satin Canvas gallery wraps look great on this wall.
Silverada Canvas with Reflection
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use Silverada in a place with a light source opposite, you just have to select the right images to print. As an example, here are a couple of photos of black and white prints that I also made to test Silverada, and the metallic reflective surface here really helps to bring them to life.
Black and White on Silverada Metallic Canvas
Black and White on Silverada Metallic Canvas
It’s always difficult to really show how good a certain media is in photos, but I’m sure you will be able to appreciate the beautiful deep blacks that you can get, as well as the quality that the texture and reflectivity of the metallic canvas brings to the images, helping the lighter areas to really shine through in contrast to the deep blacks.
Let’s get back to my main gallery wrap test once more now though, with this photo in which you can once again see the texture in the surface of the canvas. This is taken at an angle of course, so the perspective of the photo itself runs out some, as does the depth-of-field, but if you click on the image to view it large you’ll see that the canvas really adds a beautiful texture and depth to the print.
Silverada Canvas Texture close-up
Recap on the Process
I also wanted to give you a bit more information on actually working with the canvas to make your own gallery wraps. Note that from my 22 megapixel 5D Mark III files, I had to upsize the image by around 160% using onOne Software’s Perfect Resize 8, to give me a beautifully detailed large prints. I’ll be talking about Perfect Resize a little more in the coming weeks, as I review a new online print service that I’m working with at the moment, so stay tuned for that.
One of the great things about Silverada is that it doesn’t need laminating. You can laminate it with an HVLP spray gun, and this will increase the durability and longevity of the print, but with Silverada already being OBA Free, which means that it contains no Optical Brightening Agents that can shorten the longevity of media, so it’s pretty much archival, though I understand that tests are still being done.
Again, I’ll go into more detail on this in the coming weeks, but note that I also use onOne Software’s Perfect Resize because it not only enables me to easily upsize the image for large prints, but it can automatically create the mirrored borders required for these edges of the gallery wrap. It might take a bit of concentration to figure out what you’re looking at, but you can see in this image (below) that the edges of the photo have been mirrored and added to a 1.85″ border around the edges of the image in preparation for printing. This saves me from losing the edges of the actual image.
Landmannalaugar for 20×30″ with 2″ borders for a Gallery Wrap
Once printed, all you have to do is build your frame and fix it to the back of the canvas. I did a time-lapse video a couple of years ago in Episode 303 that shows you how to actually put a canvas gallery wrap together, so I won’t go through this again today, but do note that I am now stapling the backs of my gallery wraps, as opposed to trimming the surplus away as I used to do.
Silverada is not as stiff as the Crystalline Canvas that I reviewed in Episode 380 of this Podcast, so you could probably get away with simply trimming away the edges of the canvas along the back edge of the stretcher bars, but since I started to staple the backs of my gallery wraps, I think this is generally a nicer way to complete the product, and does guard against the canvas coming away from the adhesive tape over time, so I’ve continued to do this with Silverada, as you can see in this photo.
Silverada Canvas Stapled Back
You can also see how neatly the corners are finished when using the Breathing Color stretcher bars. I use the EasyWrappe Pro 1.75-inch bars, and as I mentioned earlier, this is a 20 x 30 inch gallery wrap. To create a 20 x 30 inch wrap on a 24″ wide roll media printer, you don’t have a lot of space on the sides to work with once you’ve added those almost 2″ borders, so as you can also see here, there’s only a little bit of canvas to staple to the back, but it works fine.
You can see that I also just attach a small metal bracket to either side of my gallery wraps, and then tie some string between the brackets to hang the gallery wrap. I buy this from an art/craft shop here in Tokyo called Sekaido, but I’m sure you can find something similar in your neighbourhood too.
So, to wrap this up, I’d just like to summarise that although you do have to be careful what you print, and where you’ll hang a Silverada Pearlescent Metallic Canvas gallery wrap, it’s an absolutely incredible canvas. The huge colour gamut and depth and richness of the colors are second to none, and the Breathing Color EasyWrappe system makes putting these beautiful finished products together a breeze.
Remember, if you decide to look into the Breathing Color gallery wrap system or pick up any of their other media, you can get a $20 with our code MPB20. You can even just pick up one of their sample packs to see why I am totally in love with Breathing Color products. Since I switched to Breathing Color almost four years ago now, I’ve basically stopped using media from any other manufacturer, although I used a lot up to that point, so I have a great base to make my comparisons from.
This Podcast is Sponsored by Squarespace
The Martin Bailey Photography Podcast is proud to have Squarespace on board as our current sponsor.
Visit www.squarespace.com and use the code MBP for a free trial and 10% off new accounts.
Check out Breathing Color here: http://www.breathingcolor.com/
(And don’t forget to claim your $20 discount with our code MBP20!)
Music by UniqueTracks
Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.
Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).
Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.
I recently took delivery of two new types of paper and a new canvas from Breathing Color, and having profiled and worked with them over the last few weeks, today I’m going to discuss some of the attributes of these new media types and how I’m going to be introducing them into my printing workflow.
If you get all excited about these papers and run off to the Breathing Color web site to place an order before we finish, note that we have a discount code, MBP20, for a $20 discount, but I’ll give you more details on this at the end of the Podcast. The first two of these three media types have me very excited though, so I do hope you also give them a try at some point. I usually like to save the best ’til last too, but I’m bursting to tell you about Breathing Color’s new Vibrance Metallic paper, so let’s jump into that first.
Breathing Color Vibrance Metallic
Until now, there haven’t been any true metallic inkjet papers available, apart from as a selectable media at some professional printing houses. There were a few companies that created inkjet metallic paper, but it didn’t really compare, until now. In true Breathing Color style, they have totally outdone themselves with Vibrance Metallic. This paper has a depth and quality that I’ve never seen before. Sure, I’m usually a matte guy. If I’m reaching for a paper to print for myself, it’s pretty much always matte, but I have a feeling that is going to change for at least for some of my printing.
Even as I printed out the patch sheets to create ICC profiles for these three new media types, I could see that Vibrance Metallic was very special. Of course, all three of these media types that we’ll look at today have excellent color gamuts and incredibly deep blacks, but Vibrance Metallic is like off the charts when it comes to depth and punch, but it’s not just about punch. There’s a subtle beauty that brings out the best in many types of photo. I found images with large swaths of color or dark areas look best on this paper.
I tried some of my almost totally white winter scenes, which also look beautiful, but as you can see in this photo (right) the paper does have a silver look to it, which really enhances some images, but doesn’t necessarily add anything and maybe even detracts from a some snow scenes. All photos have their better matched media though, so we don’t have to try to find a single paper that will work with all of our images.
The biggest challenge I had in putting this review together was finding a way to actually shoot photos of the printed metallic paper in a way that would help you to see just how good it is, and I don’t really know if I’ve achieved that, but here is one of my favorite black and white shots that I’ve printed so far. I’ve put the paper in a position where the light from my studio window is reflecting in the top right corner, as I find that it’s these reflections that give you part of the feeling of depth. I’m really not sure that you’ll get this, but looking into this photo feels very much like peering at a slide, where you almost feel as though there’s a 3D type of depth and richness to the image.
Tokyo Metropolitan Building on Vibrance Metallic (Click to Enlarge)
Here’s another black and white photo, this one of the Cocoon building in Shinjuku, Tokyo, that I printed on both Vibrance Metallic and Pura Smooth, the paper that we’ll look at next. Here you can easily see the slightly silver metallic look of Vibrance Metallic on the left, and the slightly yellow feel to the Pura Smooth. We’ll touch on that shortly, but I wanted to note that although this looks beautiful too on the Metallic paper, for this one, I kind of still gravitate to the matte version, so we definitely still need to match our images to our paper. This is how it should be though, and this is part of the fun and excitement of printing in my opinion.
Vibrance Metallic (Left) and Pura Smooth (Right) (Click to Enlarge)
I’ve posted this double print comparison in higher resolution than normal too, so open up your browser as wide as it will go and click on the image to dive into the detail a little more.
“Houwa” on Vibrance Metallic (Click to Enlarge)
Black and white shots look great, but color images are simply beautiful on this paper too, especially ones with lots of dark patches or swaths of color. Here is a shot from the Zoujouji (temple) here in Tokyo, where some people were sitting for Houwa, a kind of buddhist sermon. I know this isn’t coming across totally in the photo, and I’ve purposefully left in some reflections from my studio, but this is probably my favorite of the images I’ve printed on Vibrance Metallic so far. As I hold the print in the window light of my studio, it’s almost as though I’m back looking through the side door at the temple again, as I was of course when I shot this. There are reflections in the image too, and I think that is a point to note when looking for images to print on metallic. Water, reflections, highly dynamic images, and I also believe HDR images will work very well on Vibrance Metallic.
It is of course available in sheets as well as rolls, and with our discount code, it really won’t break the bank to give this paper a try, and I reckon that’s the only way you’re really going to be able to fully appreciate this paper, to try it for yourself. When you look at the price of the rolls of Vibrance Metallic, you might initially think that it’s much more expensive than other roll media from Breathing Color, but do note that most rolls are 40′, whereas Vibrance Metallic is 100′ long, so you get one and a half times more paper for about a 25% higher price. It’s a steel really.
The second new paper I’ve just started using from Breathing Color is their new fine art matte paper, Pura Smooth. This is a simply beautiful paper, and as excited I am about the new metallic, matte paper is probably still going to be my favorite media. Although it lacks the punch that the high gloss metallic does, Pura Smooth is a subtle, almost sublime paper. Again, here’s a photo of a print, but it will be difficult to appreciate just how beautiful this paper is without holding it in your hand.
Deadvlei Trees on Pura Smooth (Click to Enlarge)
There used to be a time when matte papers were difficult to print on, with weak color and not very deep blacks, but those days are long gone. The color gamut of Pura Smooth is again off the chart. This was the case too with Optica One, my matte paper of choice from Breathing Color, but there is one major advantage that Pura Smooth has over Optica One, and that is that it is OBA free.
OBAs are Optical Brightening Agents, that absorb ultraviolet light that we can’t see, and emit blue/white light that makes the paper look a brighter white. This isn’t always a bad thing, and papers can still be archival certified, even if they use OBAs but they are considered to be unstable, and can break down over time, reducing the longevity of the prints, and therefore should be avoided if possible. There are other profiling concerns too, but I actually just wrote an article for a future issue of Craft & Visions PHOTOGRAPH digital magazine in which I go into more detail on all of this, so I won’t cover it here today.
Because Pura Smooth does not contain OBAs, this is part of the reason why it looks a little yellow, compared to the metallic paper, in the double black and white comparison shot that we looked at earlier. You really only notice this though, when the paper is held against a very bright white paper, or something more neutral, like Vibrance Metallic. Otherwise, the prints just have a beautiful, slightly warm tone to them, and wreak of quality.
I’ve always been very happy with Optica One, and because it is archival certified, I’ll use up my current stock before switching, but Pura Smooth is going to be my new go-to matte paper. It’s just beautiful, and OBA-Free. You can’t lose.
Crystalline Satin Canvas
The last of the tree media types that I want to talk about today is the new Breathing Color Canvas, Crystalline Satin. When I first heard about Crystalline, I was very excited, as this canvas does not need to be laminated. Although I have perfected my application of the Timeless Laminate for Breathing Color’s Lyve Canvas, it’s still extra work, and requires an extra day to let it fully dry. Crystalline canvas does not need that, and my tests show that there is no cracking along the edges of the canvas when you stretch it onto the stretcher bars, which is one of the main reasons you need to laminate.
20×30″ Crystalline Satin Gallery Wrap Using Staple Method (Click to Enlarge)
Without lamination, the edges crack and the white canvas shows through, looking horrible. In addition to that, without Lamination, canvas is usually susceptible to dirt and scratches, and cannot be wiped down with a damp cloth if it does get a little dirty. Crystalline is water resistant to a degree though, and can be wiped with a damp cloth to remove excess dust, even without lamination. You probably still don’t want to go rubbing at the printed surface for very long, or I’m sure you’ll lift the ink, but being able to give a canvas a quick wipe down is pretty much a necessity. Remember you hang gallery wraps straight on the wall without a frame or glass to protect them, so the collection of dust and sometimes a bit of grime is a real issue.
So, what’s the downside? Well, after I ordered my Crystalline canvas I found that it is not archival quality. I’m not sure if this information was just released or I just overlooked it initially, but Crystalline is only rated to 55 years before the print may start to deteriorate, and 75 years if you do apply a laminate. You can apply Timeless or Glamour II varnishes to Crystalline canvas, but it has to be applied with a HVLP Spray gun, which I don’t have or want to use. This was a bit of a blow, as the lack of necessity to laminate was the major attraction over Lyve Canvas, my current canvas of choice from Breathing Color.
The color gamut of Crystalline canvas is simply amazing. Very deep blacks and excellent color reproduction. It’s a pleasure to work with, but so is Lyve canvas. With the longevity in mind, I will continue to stock and use Lyve canvas for any and all work that I create for customers. I will use the Crystalline canvas I currently have for casual printing at home, because I’m not that concerned about the archival qualities of a home print, and the ease of use makes this canvas very attractive, but that will be the extent of my use. I really can’t put my name to anything that I’ll be sending to a customer, unless the formula is improved or a new canvas is released that doesn’t require lamination, but is still archival certified.
Another thing that you need to note about Crystalline is that you have to staple the edges to the back of the stretcher bars. I had actually intended to start doing this anyway, and had already bought a heavy duty staple gun, but I forgot to use this method when I put my first Crystalline canvas gallery wrap together. The result was that within 30 minutes of my hanging the gallery wrap on my studio wall, the edges came away from the adhesive tape on the stretcher bars as we can see here (below).
20×30″ Crystalline Canvas Gallery Wrap without Staple Method
Needless to say, this doesn’t look good, although I noticed that Breathing Color do recommend that you apply a bead of their archival glue along the edges of the gallery wrap, or to use the staple method, to stop the edges of the canvas from lifting away from the stretcher bars. I’ve confirmed that using the glue is somewhat effective, but if you are going to use this canvas, I’d strongly recommend using the staple method, as you can see in this photo (below).
Crystalline Canvas with Stapled Back
You normally want to leave a 1/2 inch of canvas to stable to the back of the stretcher bars, but as I made a 20×30″ gallery wrap with a 24″ roll printer, I have to cut it a little fine on the long edge, although it’s still enough to table the edge down with. Although I never had a problem with the edges of my old Lyve Canvas gallery wraps lifting, I actually prefer this method and will be using it going forward, so I’m not raising this as a demerit for Crystalline Canvas, but it is something that you’ll need to note if you give Crystalline a try for yourself.
Remember that Breathing Color don’t sell through camera stores etc. so if you do want to try any of their media, visit www.breathingcolor.com, and don’t forget that you can use the code MBP20 when you checkout, for a $20 discount on orders of $20 or more. This code is used to identify people that I recommend to Breathing Color, and you get a discount too, so please do use it. Note too that I only ever recommend products that I fully believe in, and as with today’s review, you will always get my honest opinion of any product I work with.
I hope this has been of some use though. I’m always excited when Breathing Color release something new, because they are continuously pushing the boundaries in inkjet media, and I even though the Crystalline canvas doesn’t hit it out of the park for me, this is still a huge step forward, as it Vibrance Metallic, and now having an OBA-Free fine art matte paper in Pura Smooth! I’m currently a very happy teddy.
Find Breathing Color’s amazing media at http://www.breathingcolor.com/
Music by UniqueTracks
Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.
Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).
Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.
Here’s a time lapse video made with frames shot every three seconds, as I put together a 13×26″ Gallery Wrap using Breathing Color’s Easy Wrappe Pro 1.75 system.
I also spent the time this week to learn how to make a Motion Graphics intro with Adobe After Effects. Including the time looking at Lynda.com training material, this took me about 25 hours, for just 25 seconds of video, but it was a lot of fun. I hope you like it.
This video along with a few others will be slotted in between live content that my friends Joseph Cristina and Trevor Current over at DigitalPhotographyCafe.com will be streaming from the Photo Plus Expo in New York, on Oct 27 and 28, 2011. To check out the live content, visit http://www.digitalphotographycafe.com/live.
Don’t forget to hit the full-screen button in the video window to go, erm, full-screen. If the full-screen button isn’t available, click on the Vimeo link and go full-screen from there.
Note that there is an iPod/iPhone version of this video in iTunes, but when watching on a computer, the video above is better.
Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.
I’ve spent the last few days getting used to the Breathing Color Lyve Canvas and Timeless Laminate system and today share my thoughts, with some tips for using the system yourself. There’s a lot to keep in mind when using this system, especially when laminating your prints, as this can be incredibly tricky. I’m pretty much on top of the process now, after a couple of days of experimentation, but it wasn’t all rosy. Here are my first impressions, warts and all…
[Sound of a record scratching… OK, so forget everything you might have read below. It turns out this technique simply did not work for Timeless Matte Laminate. Click here to take a look at the video I release a week later to find out what you really need to do…]
First of all, I should tell you why I chose the Lyve Canvas and Timeless Laminate for my canvas wraps, and these will be the canvas wraps that I use for my December Exhibition here in Tokyo, as well as to make portrait photographs available to customers in the near future. You will probably remember that in Episode 257 I showed you how to actually put a gallery wrap together using the Hahnemühle system. It’s no secret that I love Hahnemühle paper too, but I cannot get the Hahnemühle protective spray here in Japan, and so I started to look for an alternative. Our friend in the MBP community Landon Michaelson has had great results with the Breathing Color Glamor laminate, and so I decided to look into Breathing color products.
I chose the Lyve Canvas over there previous canvases because it’s newer, and they claim it to have a wider dynamic range, or color gamut. The first thing I did before printing to the canvas of course was to profile it, using the X-Rite i1Xtreme color calibration system, and when I soft-proof my images before printing, there are very few that even need any work to get them to look just like they do on the screen when printed to the Lyve Canvas. Having said that, Hahnemuhle’s Daguerre Canvas was also incredibly good as you’d imagine, but Lyve Canvas is cheaper, and has the benefit of the availability of the Timeless Laminate that was made to match this canvas.
So, my decision made, I placed a large order with Breathing Color. I had problems creating an account, because their system does not accept Japan format post codes, but I was able to order relatively painlessly by email, and my order arrived about a week later by FedEx. Here’s a photo of the consignment, so you can probably see that I was banking a lot on this system working for me.
Breathing Color Gallery Wrap Goodies
What You’ll Need
What you need to apply your Timeless Laminate is a flat surface, a plastic spoon or something to stir the laminate in the gallon bucket, and a measuring jug. You should also use something like a ladle to remove the laminate form the bucket into your measuring jug, and you should only take out as much as you need and not return any unused laminate to the bucket afterwards. My work table is slightly narrower than the width of a 24 inch wide canvas print, so I bought a piece of acrylic board as my flat surface, and I covered that with thin plastic like the stuff that painters use to cover furniture etc. This is about $15 for 200 meters, so you can change it out when it gets messed up without worrying too much about the expense.
Once I’d got everything I need together and my canvas on the workbench, I was all fired up and ready to create my first few masterpieces. I have to admit though, as I started to work with the system it got very frustrating very quickly. You can see two canvas prints that I did for my first attempt in this next photo, and I started with the smaller black and white lotus flower print. I have to tell you though it was a disaster.
First Two Lyve Canvas Prints
First Try – A Disaster!
I poured a puddle of Timeless Laminate, one quarter the area of the image, as per the instructions, and started to spread it out with the roller. It soon became obvious that this was way too much, and as I was spreading it out, it started to congeal and stick to the roller, first in small lumps, then in entire layers. I ended up scraping this off and throwing it out, wasting a good amount of the laminate.
Having reapplied a layer of the laminate, I got the small flakes again, and decided this canvas was now ruined. I took it downstairs and placed in on my spare room floor to dry, just to see what it looked like, and went back into the studio to try a second. I didn’t have the heart to practice on my precious mother and child snow monkey print, so I used a test print on the Lyve Canvas, and the results were pretty much the same. I screwed up the canvas and threw it out.
These problems may be caused to a degree by the temperature or humidity, which were I should say within the ranges that Breathing Color set out for the application of Timeless, and you might not have such a hard time as I have, but I was really struggling initially. At the end of my first day, I mailed Breathing Color for advice, but it was a holiday in the U.S. yesterday, so I didn’t get a reply before I started my second day of working on the process. I did get a quick reply before I started to record this Podcast, telling me that we’ll be speaking to try to help with my problems, but that will be after I’ve recorded this Podcast, later tonight. I’ll be sure to update you on anything I learn to improve the process later of course, but for now, let’s steam on…
In my first few attempts to apply the laminate, I noticed a few things that started to improve my process, so we’ll touch on these now. Firstly, the peeling and flaking of the Timeless Laminate as I rolled was made worse by the canvas sticking to the roller, and lifting up as I rolled. To prevent this from happening, I started to tape the corners of the canvas to the table before I start to apply the laminate. The corners will be cut away later so it’s not a big deal that these won’t be laminated. I found that taping the corners down did help with the rolling, but the congealed flakes didn’t stop.
Tape the Corners Down
I also decided to ignore the Breathing Color advice to pour a puddle of Timeless onto the print that is about one quarter the area of the print. You want a much smaller puddle to start with. I found that about 60 to 70CC was enough to laminate a 24×34 inch canvas, for a 20×30 inch gallery wrap. As you start to roll out the Laminate though, keep your measuring jug with more Timeless in close by, and add more as necessary, but not too much. You’ll want to roll this first layer out very quickly, in all directions. Your aim is to get a layer of laminate onto the canvas, and then once you have the entire canvas covered, roll in a vertical action across the entire canvas, then horizontally, maybe twice in each direction then stop.
If you roll for more than a minute or so, you’ll start to get white flakes of congealed Timeless laminate that form on the roller and they’ll stick to the surface of the canvas, which is not good. If you start to see these flakes of Timeless through rolling too much, stop right there. Any more rolling will make it worse. I’ve come to the conclusion that at least under the conditions in which I’m working, you can only apply one or two layers of the Timeless laminate with one clean roller. Make sure you buy some spare rollers, and the moment you start to see the white flakes on the surface, if you are quick, you can remove them with your finger, and then re-roll with a clean roller.
Fourth Canvas Looks Great!
It took me four canvases before I was able to successfully coat a print in without any real problems, but I’m not sure right now that I applied enough laminate. When I peeled the tape off the corners I could see that there was a nice coating of Timeless applied, so I’m optimistic that it will be OK, and if what I’ve learned and my process is correct, then it will have actually been pretty easy, although not very similar to the rolling process that Breathing Color show in their video.
First Really Good Canvas
When this fourth canvas dried though it looked great and I’m looking forward to seeing how crack resistant it is when I stretch it onto the stretcher bars to make the gallery wrap. If it has worked well, then it was a total of one minute frantic rolling, three minutes waiting, then one more minute of careful rolling. I didn’t see any bubbles, probably because I didn’t have enough laminate on it for them to form, but if it’s strong and crack resistant, what the hay! I’ll let you know how I got on with this later after I’ve created the gallery wrap.
If You Mess Up…
If do you screw up totally and get these flakes everywhere, use a flexible silicon spatula like the ones you might use in the kitchen, and scrape off the layer of Timeless. I’m not sure what Breathing Color would have to say about this, but if the spatula is smooth it won’t hurt your print, but the Timeless needs to come off, and you can then start again with a fresh layer, before the Laminate that had already sunk into the canvas starts to dry.
Once you have that first layer applied, and again, this has to be done very quickly, in less than a minute, wait for about three minutes. Walk away and ignore it, and once you’ve waited three minutes, go back and roll a little more. The Breathing Color instructions and video say that you should start to see bubbles at this point, but out of the four Canvases I’ve done so far, I have not seen bubbles on the first application, which is why I think that on the canvas that I stopped after one application, I probably don’t have enough laminate applied.
One Coat or Three?
Breathing Color say that quite often you’ll only need one coat of Timeless, although you can apply more. At this point in time, I’m going to try with just the one from now on, but if the canvas cracks when I stretch it onto the stretcher bars, I will have to continue on and apply a second or even third coat. I’ll know if this is the answer, because three of my current four canvases that need to be stretched had three coats. One actually had five, because the third coast messed up with the flakes, and so I had to scrape it off and start again. If you have to do multiple coats, Breathing Color recommends that you wait about 15-20 minutes between each application and I found this to be about right in my first attempts.
I do start get bubbles in the laminate (see below) if I do a second application, and lots of them. They start to appear as soon as I stop my first frantic application, and start my three minute wait. Many burst during the three minutes leaving little craters, but the craters and bubbles that remain are smoothed over, as you start to roll again. This second rolling after the wait though cannot be too long either. The Breathing Color video says that you might need to roll for up to thirty minutes to get the surface smooth, but in my experience so far this just isn’t possible.
So, these are the things that I’ve learned so far, and I’m still very much trying to get the hang of this process, so please take this week’s episode more as a work-in-progress report than a foregone conclusion. I will get back to you if Breathing Color have more advice on the process, and after doing four canvases now, as long as my fourth that I only gave one coat stretches onto the frame without cracking, I think I’ve just about cracked the process.
The key things to remember are:
- Tape the corners of the canvas down to stop it from lifting while rolling
- Apply a small puddle of laminate, and have more handy
- Spread the laminate quickly, randomly at first, until you fully cover the canvas
- Then roll the entire canvas horizontally and vertical twice each direction, without applying any downward pressure on the roller, then stop rolling!
- This first rolling should take less than a minute
- Wait three minutes, then roll a little more
- Use a fresh roller for each canvas wrap. Never do more than two applications/layers with one fresh roller
- Wash out your rollers and use them again, but you’ll need some spares to work quickly
These are my key takeaways from two days getting used to the process. I’ll update this list in a future episode as I refine my process or as Breathing Color can offer any advice to improve on the process.
I mentioned earlier that I allowed my first failed canvas to dry, and I was pleased to see that the first black and white lotus flower canvas that I had given up on did calm down quite a lot after it totally dried. I had given up on this first canvas, and was ready to throw it out, but I’m glad I gave it time to dry, as this showed me that I didn’t need to get the application of the laminate totally perfect for it to still look pretty good when dry. I tried to give this first attempt another couple of coats to try to fill in some of the ripples and grooves left in the first coat, but this didn’t work out great, and it certainly wouldn’t be possible to sell it to a customer, but I’m going to keep it to one side for now. If I get time to redo this piece for the exhibition, I will. If not, that might just be good enough, if people are viewing from a distance. I’m pretty sure I’ll make time to replace it though.
Before we finish I would like to say that on the smaller samples where I simply just applied a rough coat of the Timeless Laminate, the dried product was flawless and I did test to see how tough it was. It didn’t crease, and when I tried scratching the surface of the canvas with my fingernail, although it came up white for a moment, when I licked my finger and rubbed over the same area it cleared right up, dried instantly and I couldn’t even tell that I’d scuffed it up in the first place.
I should also note, and this is quite important, but this is exactly the reason why you need to laminate canvas wraps. The Hahnemühle Canvas Wraps that I created and shared with you in Episode 257 cracked on the edges a little during the process. I’m expecting that the Lyve Canvas, laminated with Timeless will be much stronger and totally resistant to this sort of cracking and will be much easier for the owner of the piece to care for. They’ll be able to wipe it off with a wet rag if it gets dusty for example, and a few knocks shouldn’t damage it either.
By the way, the stretcher bar system from Breathing Color is pretty much the same as Hahnemühle’s system, and apart from figuring out how long I have to wait after applying the laminate before I can stretch the canvas on the bars, I’m not expecting this to be a difficult process. Again, if anything comes to light when I get to this, I’ll let you know.
The process takes some practice, and although there are still a few things that I need to check, and some things that I’m hoping will get better, right now I’m still happy that I decided to use this system. This work-in-progress report has certainly not been all roses, but I do intend to continue to use these Breathing Color products. So far my experiences with the people at Breathing Color have been great, and if the canvases that I now have laminated stretch onto the frame without cracking, I think I’m onto a winner. Stay tuned in future weeks as I run my final checks and report back on any improvements that I make to the process, either with further practice, or with the Breathing Color team’s help.
Breathing Color: http://www.breathingcolor.com/
Music created and produced by UniqueTracks.
Download the Enhanced Podcast M4A files directly.