The Lost Art of Master Canvas Mounting
I could at any time take the easier way out. I could digitally print from my computer directly onto a piece of machine-stamped canvas.
It's what most everyone does today. It's quick, it's cheap because it is less time consuming, and I could make twenty of them while you're reading this.
Mass-produced canvas the type which you see in home decor stores and online outlets are printed on cheap machined-canvas. These canvas patterns are very predictable because the substrate is "machine stamped canvas" it is not quality based, it's quantity based. Mass produced canvases are often not even stretched properly and I have seen many of them with buckles!
The process I have continued with over the years involves a very different approach to canvassing photography, and it's not a method that you will find many people using today, and that is simply because my method is still done by hand. Hand craftsmanship.
From the very beginning, my method is not to just print out an image from my computer onto a piece of canvas. What I am doing is taking an actual photograph and embedding that photograph into a real piece of high quality canvas cloth.
While this method is a more complex and time-intensive, it is the process I have chosen to continue when making canvas-photographs, and by doing so, what you the client are getting, are one-of-a-kind photographic art canvases, that can never, ever, be replicated the same way twice!
The Story and the Method
It was perhaps somewhere in the 1960’s when studio photographers began mounting photographs to canvas using multi-step techniques of embedding photographs into canvas.
Over the years it was considered to be the most artistic method of presenting photographs on canvas before the advent of digital printing came along.
The beauty and difficulty of this process begins with the actual “peeling” of the emulsion of a photograph (the picture) from its paper backing. Needless to say this is a very precarious step of the process but necessary to make the picture as thin as possible to be received by the embedding step.
The Canvas Cloth: The canvas cloth is sized and prepped to receive the photograph. The preparation of the canvas involves hand scraping the surface to pick away some of the naturally occurring higher slubs so that the emulsion embeds evenly when pressed .
Once the canvas is prepped, the photographic emulsion which was peeled from its paper backing, is pressed under heat and intensive pressure to embed it directly into the canvas.
Next a protective UV laminate spray is airbrushed onto the canvas; and once dry, the canvas is stretched and mounted onto thick wooden frames, its wooden edges sanded smooth, it is ready for framing.
As you've probably concluded at this point, these steps are the very reason why so few people use this technique for making canvas photographs.
When you look at a Master Canvas Photograph, you truly can see the way in which the canvas allows the image to visually-breathe through the highs and lows, the nubs, the unpredictable characters of its texture, texture that is only inherent in the nature of a true canvas weave rather than machine stamped.
Today, for most people, it's easier to just push print and be done with it; but then there is not the same investment in the work toward the end-product, and that is important to me because it is the highest essence of what I can produce in fine art photography.
From the very moment my photograph is pressed into a canvas, the image is joined forevermore to the cloth; and from there, you have a uniquely one-of-a-kind creation of art.
© D.A. Webbe