Framah.... Let's see if I can make this as simple as possible! Yes, that other thread is making me incredibly nervous. I do all my printing with an Epson 4880 and 9900. The 9900 does 90% of the work. It is 27 months old, no firmware updates, no new wiper blade, an expired extended warranty, I can count all of the "clogs" on one hand, it just keeps chucking out beautiful paper and canvas!
Well, back to our regular programming. I too tried all of the obvious papers too no avail. If it were not for having to take the darkroom out of mothballs I would have tried that. I soaked various fiber papers trying to get them to mold. I agree that is not a good solution because the surface will always separate no matter how hard you try.
While trying to use papers, I had made a couple of moulds from the original glass. With one of the moulds I heated plexiglass in the oven and let it form to the shape of the glass. The contour was good but I was unable to control the edges. So.. I dropped back and thought about the advantage of being able to print the image on the trusty ol' 9900 and how that would allow me to get any type of image, not just b&w.
Canvas came up as my first choice of media. Now all I had to do is figure out how to shape it and have it retain that shape.
As luck would have it, my boots were due to be waterproofed. Like Eric my mind began to wander! Because I print and spray canvas I am very careful not to let any wax or silicone in the area. A few loose molecules in the air and disaster strikes. But here was a product that I knew would not get away, bees wax. So went to work and hatched a plan.
Waxed the inside of the glass and a small area on the outside edge, then applied low heat from a hair dryer to make the wax flow out and eliminate any irregularities. I now had decided to make a fiberglass mould. With fiberglass mat one layer thick (only!)on a sheet of waxed paper I saturated the glass mat and transfered it to the inside of the glass, removed the waxed paper and carefully worked all of the bubbles out of the resin with a short, stiff bristle brush. After it cured I was able to lift it from the glass and trim it out to the correct size. Now you are thinking that one layer is not sufficient, and yes there is some flexibility to the mould. But if you set it down and press on it you will see that because it is shaped like an egg it is very difficult to deform. The face is easily cleaned with lacquer thinner and then scuffed with sand paper to give it some tooth.
Now that I had a good mould I printed the image on canvas, coated lightly with mat spray and mounted it to the backing with Miracle Muck. The canvas has enough stretch that if you begin in the center and work your way around the edges there are no wrinkles. To accomplish this I placed the parts on a board with a piece of the brown release paper that comes in the Epson paper boxes (glue won't stick and its free). Began working from the center and just stapled it down all around. Next day I removed the staples, trimmed the image out, leaving enough to fold around the back and glue.
You can now mount the image as you prefer, touching the glass or not by the way you trim or space it. Of course all of this depends on whether you are cool with canvas as the image substrate or not. I can tell you it looked good and the customer was happy and that's what counts. I am sure that if I had pursued the paper route I would still be working it out. This procedure is cheap, safe , and repeatable
Hope this helps, Ray