I've previously been less than impressed with canvas prints - most of them have a thick gesso coating (which almost-but-not-quite masks the underlyiing canvas texture), on top of which an inkjet receiver layer is sprayed, giving them the thick appearance of a canvas for oil painting, but without the corresponding texture of oil paints on top of them, which is a strange appearance to me. Moreover, the gesso layer, which supports the inkjet and pigment layer, is liable to crack while stretching or flexing and to brittle with age.
Recently, however, I saw some prints made on Kernow's Kernewek range of inkjet-compatible canvases (as tested on Aardenberg) and am considering trying one of them. These lack the gesso layer - the fabric looks and feels like fine fabric, rather than canvas painted with layers of primer, are soaked rather than layered in inkjet coating and seem to give bright, saturated colours. It's hard to describe, but there's a 'lightness' to the fabric that suits smooth, textureless photographic output, as opposed to other canvasses whose thick layers of primer make them seem more suitable for oil or acrylic paints rather than photos.
I'm a bit at a loss on how to handle canvas, though, or even which one to select.
Kernewek's St Ives canvas is a 100% cotton, 400gsm canvas in a full Panama weave. Kernewek's Tresco canvas is a 50% polyester, 50% cotton blend - at 160gsm, it is a much lighter and finer weave. Both are OBA-free and seem to print very nicely, and I didn't see any evidence of cotton seeds in the 100% cotton canvas. Is there any technical/print quality/longevity reason to pick one over the other? Some people seem to swear by pure cotton, while others prefer poly-cotton, for reasons such as canvas sagging over time.
Secondly, how should a canvas print be sealed? Obviously the face of the print will need to be sealed, but what about the reverse side of the canvas? This will be inside the frame of a wrapped canvas, but still exposed to the atmosphere, allowing pollutants to penetrate the porous canvas and attack the pigments from the other side. Should both sides be sprayed, or just one side? If I spray the reverse, would the additional sealing protect the print better, or simply seal up solvents and other chemicals within the canvas, accelerating its deterioration?
Finally, is it possible or advisable to mat and frame a canvas print in a similar manner to a paper print, if the print looks good on canvas? If a canvas print - particularly one without the easily-cracked gesso layer - is to be displayed in this manner, would you suggest still coating it with Timeless Glossy/Matte or Eco Print Shield, or could you use something like Hahnemuhle Protective Spray instead, so as not to alter the surface appearance of the canvas?