Artists, hobbyists, and manufacturers use canvas for art. For example, painters love to paint on canvases. However, if you don’t have painting skills, can you do canvas sublimation printing instead? Here’s what you need to know:
You can do sublimation printing on canvas, provided you treat it properly. Canvas isn’t naturally suited for sublimation printing due to its lack of a polymeric surface. To achieve optimal results, use a vinyl transfer sheet, apply a sublimation coating, or opt for pre-treated sublimation canvas blanks.
This article will tell you what you need to know about sublimation printing on canvas. Besides providing basic information about the technique, we will also detail the steps you can take to sublimate on canvas.
What Is Canvas?
If you need strong, durable, woven fabric, consider canvas. In many cases, canvas product manufacturers use all cotton, but sometimes they add linen and polyester. Artists pain on canvases, and manufacturers choose to decorate canvas products because canvas stands up well to hard use and abrasion.
- Canvas is a type of plain-woven fabric that is very strong and durable.
- It works well for making fashion items like handbags, cases for electronic devices, and shoes.
- You may have also seen canvas used to make sails, tents, backpacks, a host for oil paintings, and other things that need to be strong.
- Painters often choose canvas for an art surface. Art supply manufacturers stretch canvas over a wooden frame.
Traditionally, the canvas is made from hemp. However, modern canvas makers use many materials, such as cotton, linen, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polyester.
Cotton canvas may differ from denim, although both come from cotton. Canvas has a plain weave instead of a twill weave, commonly seen in denim.
As a result, when you cut through the canvas, the fabric holds itself well. If you cut through denim, you are likely to see frays. There are two major types of canvas: plain or duck.
In the United States, there are two primary methods to differentiate canvas class: its weight (in ounces per square yard) or its grade.
The heavier the weight, the tougher the canvas will be. For grade, the numbers go backward, from lightest to heaviest. This means a number 7 canvas is lighter than a number 2 canvas.
Can You Sublimate on Canvas?
You can print sublimation inks on most canvas because it does not have the polymeric materials necessary to hold onto that kind of ink. You can, however, apply some treatment to make it sublimable or look for canvas made with sublimable materials such as polyester.
Canvas can be 100% cotton but may also include linen, PVC, and polyester. In either case, artists like the resulting material because of the lack of water-absorbent features.
Some canvases also contain synthetic materials, making them water-resistant and suitable for hard use.
Speaking of synthetic materials, ever wondered if nylon is an option for sublimation? We’ve got an article that goes into the ins and outs of sublimating on nylon.
Whether you can sublimate on canvas will depend on the materials used to make the canvas. If your canvas contains polyester, you may sublimate it as usual.
However, suppose the canvas has all-natural fibers such as cotton or linen.
In that case, you can’t do sublimation printing directly because the fabric will not be able to hold on to sublimation ink on its own. You may need to apply treatments to the canvas to make it sublimable.
In general, if you add a sublimation coating or use high-quality HTV sheets, sublimation printing on canvas tends to do just as well as sublimation on polyester, provided the processes were done properly.
But to get it just right, you’ll need more than just the right materials—you’ll need the right tools. That’s why you should check out our rundown of the best heat presses for sublimation.
How To Sublimate on Canvas?
You may sublimate on canvas in many ways, depending on the type of canvas and your preference. You may either sublimate directly, apply sublimation coating, use a heat transfer vinyl sheet (HTV), or heat transfer fabric. The materials used to make your canvas may also affect your sublimation decision.
You may sublimate on canvas using the following ways, each with its strengths and weaknesses.
Sublimate Directly: This option is only available if the canvas you intend to sublimate on is made of polyester. Some cotton or linen canvas may also come pre-treated for sublimation, meaning you may be able to sublimate on it directly.
Check your product packaging or the maker for confirmation on the materials used to make your canvas.
Sublimation Coating: You essentially apply a coating of polymeric materials on the canvas yourself and then sublimate on it. The upside of this option is total control. You get to decide the size of your canvas, the print size, the coating type, etc.
However, you may need to worry about sublimation results, as you may not know what the sublimation coating will look like on your canvas. Some sublimation coatings are known to cause yellowing on the canvas, which may ruin its appearance.
You must also spend additional money to purchase coatings and time to perform the coating process.
Using Heat Transfer Vinyl Sheet (HTV): With this method, your design is printed on sublimation paper (check out the best sublimation papers here), sublimated to a vinyl transfer sheet, and heat transferred to the canvas. You may need to do more work, but the printed results are usually outstanding.
The benefit of this strategy is that you do not need to worry about the canvas’s color. This is because the vinyl sheet has a white background, which will neutralize the background color of the canvas.
However, suppose you decide to attempt this. In that case, you must accept that your canvas will have a raised surface since the vinyl transfer sheet will be an additional layer adhered to the canvas. The vinyl sheet may also peel off in the future, meaning it may not last as long as a true sublimation.
Interested in the nitty-gritty of sublimating on white HTV? Check out our comprehensive guide on how you can sublimate on white HTV for all the details you need.
Using Heat Transfer Fabric Sheet: A heat transfer fabric sheet is similar to an HTV sheet. The only difference is that your sheet will be a piece of fabric. The great thing about this approach is that instead of transferring a hard piece of vinyl onto your canvas, you transfer a soft, pliable, fabric-like material onto your canvas. This may mean a softer surface.
Can You Sublimate On Canvas Bought From Dollar Tree?
First, determine the materials used to make the canvas. Canvas from Dollar Tree is similar to canvases bought anywhere else. If it is made of polyester or has been pre-treated for sublimation, you may sublimate it directly. If not, you may need to use sublimation coating or heat transfer vinyl (HTV) sheets.
Canvases you buy from Dollar Tree have a similar quality to canvases anywhere – they should be made from similar materials. The canvas from Dollar Tree may or may not be directly sublimable as well. This means you may need to spend time and effort discovering the materials first.
You should check the packaging for information about the canvas’s makeup and finish. Look for canvas made with some polyester or pre-treated for sublimation. In that case, you may sublimate on it directly.
If not, you may have to consider either applying sublimation coating or using a heat transfer vinyl (HTV) sheet or HTV fabric. The process of sublimation remains the same, and you may check out our guides on how to sublimate on Canvas by clicking on the link below:
Why Do People Sublimate on Canvas?
Manufacturers often use the sublimation process on canvas products like shoes and bags to brand them for sale. Suppliers tend to offer canvas in white or light color, which makes sublimation easier. Plus, canvas stands up well to high abrasion, meaning sublimating designs last longer.
People tend to use canvas to make products that require heavy use, such as bags, shoes, and even sails. As such, these surfaces tend to be in heavy contact and suffer from much abrasion.
Applying any designs on canvas like this may be tricky, as the heavy abrasion and use may make designs not last time. Stickers may break or discolor.
Cloth-based stitchings may raise the surface of the canvas, making it less smooth and pliable to handle abrasions well.
Therefore, to some, the idea of sublimating to canvas made sense. Sublimation imparts the design into the fabric, meaning there is no additional layering on the canvas. This allows the canvas to keep its smooth, pliable surface.
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