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I would like to start weaving my own cotton yarn, using a manual loom, to create my own cotton canvas fabric. The fabric will be used to create canvas paintings, which will be stretched over the necessary stretcher bars.

As well as the original paintings, I will be looking to produce canvas prints by feeding the canvas material through a wide format ink jet printer.

The fabric will need to meet the following properties:

  • Weight: 450gsm;
  • Texture: Medium to Coarse;
  • Weave: Tightly Woven.

My primary reservation is whether a manual loom is capable of allowing the weaver to create a professional standard product or whether there are limitations that can only be overcome via a computerized loom.

Key concerns being:

  • Is a tight weave achievable with a manual loom?
  • Is there a greater risk of the fabric unraveling when a manual loom is used over a computerized loom?

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

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    Interesting question... though it is asking for opinions more than solutions, so not sure its a good fit for site. Edited the original to remove additional "related" questions that could be in their own separate post.
    – rebusB
    Oct 6 '20 at 21:02
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    What advantage are you seeking by hand weaving your canvasses? The ancient Incan's wove fabric by hand at over 300 threads per inch, fine enough to be waterproof (pre-colonial gore-tex), so it is possible to hand loom a tight weave but the time it will take and the skill and effort required to keep the weave regular enough would make it totally impractical IMO.
    – rebusB
    Oct 6 '20 at 21:08
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    Do you already have a loom? If not, what loom were you considering purchasing?
    – csk
    Oct 7 '20 at 4:31
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    Try asking on the forums of Ravelry. While it's mostly a site for knitters and crocheters, there are a fair number of weavers on there, and even some weaving-specific groups.
    – csk
    Oct 7 '20 at 4:34
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    Craig, have you already tried weaving the canvas yourself, or found an answer elsewhere? If so, you can self-answer your question.
    – Joachim
    Oct 17 '21 at 17:37
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Yes. At one point in time all canvas was made on manual loom machines. There are paintings from that time done on canvas therefore painting canvas can be hand loomed. It can be woven as tight as you need it to be and it should unravel no differently from machine loomed fabric.

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If the handmade canvas was to be used only for painting, rebusB's answer is the obvious truth. And that can certainly be used for the original painting. However, the question also states the intention to use the canvas in an inkjet printer. Even if you could get the canvas to feed, the results would likely not be acceptable. There is canvas media made for inkjet printers that you could use for those reproductions, but it needs to meet a number of criteria that would be hard to replicate by hand.

  • The canvas needs to be in the range of thickness and stiffness that will work with the printer's feed mechanism.
  • The surface needs to be very uniform, both for proper feeding and uniform printing.
  • The fabric needs to be uniformly coated with a material that properly controls absorption of the ink.

Given the right materials, advanced skill level, R&D to perfect the process, a lot of time to produce each canvas, and a significant expected failure rate, it is probably humanly possible to replicate a canvas that would work. But success would have requirements far beyond producing a canvas to paint on.

Alternatives for the inkjet reproductions

  • The best results, and perhaps only practical solution, is to purchase inkjet canvas media. This will look and behave like artist canvas and give consistent good results on an inkjet printer.

  • There is another approach that probably won't meet your expectations, given the lengths you are willing to go to for authenticity, but I'll cover it for completeness.

    The picture will already be in digital format if you plan to print it on an inkjet. Image processing software, like Photoshop, has an "embossing" feature that allows you to apply a "3D" texture to an image. Canvas is a texture that is usually available. The feature adjusts brightness to superimpose the highlights and shadows that the texture would produce. You print on paper, and can typically adjust the apparent depth of embossing and the angle of illumination to match how you will display it.

    If you look at the print from an angle, the reflected light will give away that the surface is actually smooth, although you can minimize that by using matte paper. The effect is reasonably convincing at normal viewing distance, but up close, you can see that the texture is actually part of the image.

Caveats

  • Pro quality inkjet printers produce their amazing results only on ideal media; the media is an integral part of the results. The printers will apply ink to any surface you can move through the printer, but the results won't achieve the realism and accuracy if the media doesn't contribute its role in the process. The results can even look like crap on mediocre or poor media, regardless of the capabilities of the printer.

    Without specialized equipment and materials, you won't be able to manually produce media that will give you the professional-level output the printers are capable of.

  • You need to be aware of the limitation of surface reflectivity if you want to replicate painting with an inkjet printer. The ink soaks into the media, so the surface will always look like the media surface unless you subsequently apply a protective finish coat.

    Water colors have a matte finish, so replicating them on an inkjet will work on any kind of media (but will look the most realistic on matte media). Oil or acrylic paint dries shiny. The only way for an inkjet print to replicate it realistically is to either print on glossy media or apply a glossy finish coat.

    Oil and acrylic paint also have noticeable thickness variation that is obviously missing when printing on smooth paper or even inkjet canvas media. Printed commercial reproductions often go the extra step of embossing the media to create the appearance of brush strokes and thick paint.

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  • As fixer1234 points out the coating on the chosen support, be it paper or cloth, is critical to ink-jet printing. No matter how well woven the fabric, getting the right primer/coating on the canvas will make or break the process regardless of the other issues like thickness or lack of lateral stiffness (so it will advance through printer properly).
    – rebusB
    Oct 29 '21 at 16:15

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