I’m back with another project in the Inspire series, but this time it’s an idea for cubicle wall art. I’ll show you how to print on canvas with a home printer! We spend 57% of our waking time working, so why not surround ourselves with artwork to make that time more enjoyable?
You may remember the ‘Inspire‘ themed office decor items I created for the Hometalk HQ DIY Challenge:
How to Print on Canvas
You can create your own one-of-a-kind creations yourself using a home printer and pre-made 8″ x 10″ canvasses. Below is some artwork I created for Hometalk. But you can even use a photo!
I used Illustrator to design the graphic but if you’re not inclined to work with graphics programs, you can probably experiment and use the tutorial to print other wall art that you’d like to hang, such as a photograph (although I haven’t personally tried it myself).
I purchased a 10-pack of Artists Loft Super Value Canvas from Michaels to bring my newest ‘Inspire’ creation to life. Of course I ran out of printer ink by the time I was ready to print. So the canvas turn out less saturated than the cartoon prints that inspired this post.
The Original Project That Inspired This Post
Hubs and I don’t like to take ourselves too seriously (afterall, laughter is the best medicine)! So I was inspired to immortalize our day-to-day antics. A few years ago, I printed a series of cartoon canvasses using my own home computer and store-bought 8″ x 10″ canvasses. That’s back in the Bitstrips era on Facebook. Since then Bitstrips is no longer, so you can’t replicate my cartoon idea. However, you can still use this tutorial as inspiration to print your own art canvas. My step-by-step tutorial below shows you how I did it!
Here’s a closeup of just one of the canvasses in my cartoon series. I added a ‘film-strip’ effect border around each of the cartoons to balance the white space around the artwork and to group them together more effectively.
It’s fairly easy to transfer your ideas onto canvas using a home printer and artwork that fits onto an 8″ x 10″ area. The canvas is printed with the aid of freezer paper to stiffen it (see more about the printer below under footnote #2). Printing directly to canvas results in artwork that pops!
If you don’t have a suitable printer, you should be able to achieve a similar effect using T-shirt transfer paper. I haven’t used it personally so you will have to experiment if that’s the method you use. One thing to keep in mind with the T-shirt transfer method if you have wording as part of your visual: mirror the image the art a graphic program so that when you iron it onto the canvas, the printing is legible.
To start, I used Powerpoint to scale my images.
How to Print on Canvas – Materials
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To use the printer method that I used, you will need the following supply list:
- 8” x 10” canvasses1
- Reynolds Freezer Paper (generally found in the grocery store with tin foil and plastic wrap)
- Upholstery staple puller
- Iron and mini ironing board
- Ziploc bag (to hold the staples if you choose to reuse them)
- Inkjet printer 2
1 Canvas. I recommend using a 50% off coupon from Michaels and buying the 10 piece Artists Loft Super Value Canvas Pack illustrated on the right. I’m not sure about the United States, but last time I checked they were selling for $16.99 in Canada (regular price).
2 The Printer: The printer I use is an Epson WF-3540. It has a rear feed slot that can accommodate heavy stock. Note that the printer slot MUST measure at least 9” wide. That will accommodate the canvas once it’s refolded (as you’ll see later).
The Graphics Fairy also recommends Epson printers in her post on the best printers for crafting. The reason she likes Epson printers is because “because many of them (although not all) come with pigment inks. Those pigments are both waterproof and fade-proof, which makes it the perfect ink for crafting! This means your ink won’t run or bleed. Even when you apply something wet over top of it, like various types of glues, Mod Podge, etc.” I don’t have any affiliations, however I do concur that Epson inks are great! If you are buying a printer for crafting, look for an Epson that uses Dura Brite Ultra Ink (my particular printer takes a 127 cartridge).
How to Print on Canvas – Prep
- Cut a piece of freezer paper 9” x 11.5” to fit the canvas. A rear printer slot should be able to accommodate this custom size. At 9” x 11.5”, you won’t be able to get two full pieces out of the width. But don’t skimp on the size of the freezer paper. Cut it the exact size of the canvas tol get the best result when printing. To make up for the ‘waste’, the freezer paper is reusable. So don’t toss it after only one use.
- Remove the staples using the upholstery staple puller. Set the staples aside in a Ziploc bag if you wish to reuse them.
- Set aside the frame.
Note: once the canvas prints, pair it back together again with the same frame if you’re going to reuse the staples so you can fit them back into their original holes).
- Notice the creases all the way around the canvas. With the iron on medium heat, iron out the creases on the wrong side (the side without gesso). The goal isn’t to make the creases disappear completely—it’s just to open the piece out. As the fumes can be smelly, do this in a well ventilated area.
- With the canvas still facing wrong side up, refold the outer crease all the way around and iron it flat. If you’re using the value pak from Michael’s the piece should measure 9” wide by 11.5” long. Don’t worry if the edges don’t lie perfectly flat—the freezer paper will hold it them place in the next step.
- Place freezer paper previously cut shiny side down over the canvas (which is still facing wrong side up with the margins folded in). The freezer paper will effectively sandwich in the folded sides of the canvas. Iron until well attached; keep the iron moving to prevent burning. Make sure the corners are as flat possible (this is a place where the canvas can catch / jam in the printer). Let cool slightly before placing in the printer. If it starts to curl, iron flat again.
Print to Canvas
I’ve included instructions that explain how I printed from my own Epson printer. But experiment with your own printer if you have a different brand or model. If you’re not careful, may can jam your printer and not be able to clear it, so DO AT YOUR OWN RISK!
- Take the canvas / freezer paper combo to your printer and feed into the rear slot. Read your printer instructions to determine which side needs to face up (otherwise you’ll end up printing on the freezer paper instead of the canvas and waste the ink!). Sometimes my printer ejected it and it took several tries until it automatically fed the canvas it into the slot. This part can be finicky and requires patience until it feeds. If it doesn’t take after a few tries, try taking it back to the iron again to make sure the corners are flattened as much as they can be.
- Now at the computer, go into Print / Properties. Select ‘Rear Paper Feed Slot’ as the paper source. Below that, click on borderless (I’m not sure if it makes any difference, but this is how I printed mine). I set the paper type to card stock (because the canvas and freezer paper are thick), quality on high and selected ‘color’ as shown below. Then click ‘ok’ and it will bring you back to the main print screen.
- All my cartoon artwork was set up in a powerpoint file so at the main print screen, I selected “current slide” as the print range to print only one canvas at a time. However, you can use whatever graphic software you have at-hand and are familiar with (I sometimes also use illustrator and save my file as a pdf, then print from that).
- Now you can print.
Save the Printer Paper
I only had the canvas jam once while it was printing and I was able to clear it. The trick is to make sure that the edges are as flat as you can make them and the freezer paper well-adhered everywhere so nothing catches while in the printer.
Marvel at the beauty of your first canvas! Let it dry for a few minutes, then carefully peel off the freezer paper while it’s still warm. You can reuse this freezer paper again for your next canvas: I was able to get about 6 – 7 uses out of each one before I had to cut another piece.
Keep the frame together with the canvas it came from; this will make reattaching the canvas easier if you decide to reuse the staples you pulled out earlier. Ideally, if you have the space, spread the canvasses out on a flat surface to dry for a day before you reattach it to the frame. If you don’t have space, you can stack them on top of each other with a piece of waxed paper in between until you’re ready to finish them.
Reattaching the Canvas to the Frame
I’m pretty fanatical when it comes to reducing waste, so I saved all the staples and reused them, putting each one back in by hand. If you don’t want to take the extra time to do that, you can use a staple gun to add new staples and reattach the canvas.
If you plan to reuse the old staples to reattach the canvas to the frame, you will need:
- Hammer (or side of crowbar as I use below)
- Staples that were removed
- Needle nosed pliers (in case you need to straighten out some of the staples)
- Printed canvasses and frames
- If any of the staples are bent, straighten them with the needle nose pliers.
- Line up the canvas so that the holes in the canvas match the holes in the frame. That way, you can reuse the same holes.
- Starting in the middle of one side, put a staple through the canvas, line it up with the holes in the frame then tap it into place.
- Put a staple in the middle of the three remaining sides, then fold in the corners and tap in a staple to each of the four corners. Add the remaining staples all around the frame until complete.
How to Print on Canvas – Hanging your Artwork
To hang your artwork on the wall of a cubicle you can glue half of a binder clip to the back of the canvas and attach it to your cubicle with a push pin, as I showed you in the first post I did for the Inspire series of office accessories:
If you don’t work in a cubicle and have actual wall space (like at home), use a medium size 3M Command Strip. Since the canvas is light, you only need one for each canvas, centered onto the top of each frame. Follow the instructions that comes with the package.
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More Craft Ideas
Now that you have the basics, I hope you have as much fun creating your canvasses as I did. However if you happen to jam your printer, don’t say I didn’t warn you:)
If that scares you off, I’ll have at least one more ‘inspired’ office decor item coming up that you won’t want to miss. Until then, check out a few of my other craft ideas:
- Paint Chip Portrait
- Muskoka Chair Challenge at the Ontario Science Centre
- Vinyl Record Art – Creating a VW Bug Key Holder