Wavy Giclee


PFG, Picture Framing God
Nov 2, 2001
Centennial, CO, USA
I know it has been discussed before but I can't find any info on how to fix it. A customer brought back a giclee I stretched about 6 months ago. It has become very wavy. I've had this happen a couple other times but not to this degree. We are thinking it partially might be where she has it hanging, might be heat from the sun although from what she says it is not getting direct sun. It is pretty large too, 40x35.

I know I can restretch it but are there any other answers as to why it happens and how to correct it. This piece stretched beautifully and I didn't have any reason to think this would happen. I swear I read somewhere that the current thought is they needed to be permanently mounted since the giclees nature is to go all wavy with a stretch. Of course, I can't find where I read that. I better go research HH's too.

Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.
That's why it pays to use keyed stretchers, not strainer stock.

All canvas will loosen and tighten depending on conditions. I hear you. I'm always afraid to stretch the **** out of them, but I think it's what needs to be done the first time.

I'm pretty sure it has nothing to due with the printing process, but the quality of the canvas.

Use keyed stretchers and tighten the **** out of it. Of course we could always dry mount it. It's just a print for craps sake.

Where's me Unseal?

not much help as usual
Giclee's have all kinds of weird plastic coverings, that have a completely different stretching characteristic than the canvas they are on. This is what makes them so darn hard to stretch. At least I think this is the problem. Over stretching may, or could cause damage to that plastic covering. It probably depends on who created the giclee in the first place.

Myself, I have a deep dislike for giclee's. They are nothing more than a computer print, that is coated with plastic. Yet in galleries, they are sucking the naive into spending, in some cases, over a thousand dollars on one of these things. They do claim that the artist has personally highlighted each piece. Like this would make them more valuable. It is frustrating for me when I hear what my customers have spent on these things. All I can do is keep my mouth shut so I don't turn their acquisition into a bad experience for them.

Lesster is correct,it would be of great help to be able to key these things. I always explain to my customers that it is very likely that they will have some rippling if they stretch it. I prefer to mount them, just looks better. We probably mount as many as we stretch.

Not to "rag" on the worst thing to hit the art world since Bev Donothing found out about high speed offset signiture signing.....
But I hope this is a fad that sometime soon pulls the pin.
Yes they are nice and static in their plastic sort of way, but the fabric by it's nature of weave wants to stretch.....
So the answer is that you need to restretch onto
keyed bars, then on a good warm day, smack those little keys home to the max. Then warn the proud owner of that plastic ink-jet computer spew, that their valuable investment may in the near future,
and maybe before they fall for the next hoax, need to be mounted anyway.

I still like Ansel Adams posters, there is something openly honest about them and their $25 price tag.

Hi John,
I appreciate and agree with all you had to say. Would you mind telling me your procedure and matereials for mounting your gicless? And have you had any problem with the heat? What temp. do you use and what mounting adhesive have you had success with?

Thank you, thank you, thank you
Franks Fabrics puts out a fabric mounting glue that will work great. Work fast, then get it in the cold vacuum press to seal it down. If you don't have that, use Yes Paste or any quality non curling vegetable glue. There is also a self adhesive acid free foam board that would be good for smaller pieces. Be sure to get your customers permission to mount the piece. Be sure to explain to them that mounting could destroy the collectible value of the piece. (Like it had any value in the first place.) Personally I don't see how mounting would do anymore damage to the piece than stretching would.

When using wet glue, understand if you put it on so heavy that it seeps all the way through the canvas, it will probably damage the print. Giclee inks react to water in a bad way. Roll your glue on with a foam or short nap paint touch up roller, quickly sight across the glue from the side of the mounting board to insure there are no globs of glue present.

Good luck,

I think we had a discussion of this moons ago, the upshot of which was that many giclees were printed on fabric with a warp and a weft of different materials, i.e., polyblend one way, cotton the other. Thusly, they relaxed differentially, causing wrinkles.

What to do? There was no real answer except to hope you didn't receive any.
Giclees can be printed on just about anything and many are. However, there is no reason to expect any giclee to be printed on anything other than 100% cotton fabric. Fredrix is a big supplier of canvas for inkjet printing.

Inkjet prints are here to stay for a variety of reasons, the most salient being they have a much wider color gamat than lithography (most are 6 or 7 color printers as opposed to 4 color process printers) and they are typically printers with pigmented inks that are superior to most inks used in lithography. Inkjet printers are also capable of much higher resolution than lithographic printers. All in all, inkjet (giclee) prints are superior. I might add, too, that there is a certain inherent value in inkjet prints since a typical 30 x 40 could take 30 minutes to print so mass production in difficult.

As to the "plastic" nature of the coatings used on some prints, it's not the industry norm. I coat my prints with ClearStar semi gloss or gloss which my artists say is very similar in appearence to varnish but superior in that it won't yellow with age. We wuse waterproof inks and our canvases have water resistant inkjet recptors which makes coating unnecessary. We coat them anyway because the coating gives the canvas a finished appearence. ClearStar also has uv inhibitors.

It all depends on the original but my experience is that inkjet ptinters produce superior images that are very accurate, have a very wide color range and are very durable. What's not to like? As to what people sell them for, that's a matter between consenting parties. My prints are indistinguisable from the originals and if someone is willing to pay $8000.00 for the original image, $600 for a good reproduction is a deal or people wouldn't buy them. I'm not of the school that says exclusive right to display an image makes the image better than one many are able to enjoy. I personally think inkjet printing is going to be a boon for people who would like to have quality images in their houses but can't afford originals. A boon for artists, too, since the digital process makes puting out an edition of an original reasonably inexpensive. Warren
$600.00 for a 30"X 40" giclee, is a realistic price. $1,000.00 - $2,000.00 is not. If people are willing to pay it, there will always be someone to provide it, no matter what the cost.

There was a thing on the news about a week or so ago about some fancy dancy restaurant in New York, they had an omelet that sold for $1,000.00 and people where buying them. I find that just a teeny bit overpriced as well.

One mans "chump change" is another mans fortune, just the way things are.

Warren, The big problem for framers is the wide range of materials and inks being used. There never seems to be any info with these things. I checked one web site (manufacturer)That must have listed at least a half dozen different fabric type materials for printing on and reccomendations for different sealers for each one. Waterproof inks? Water resistant ink receptors? Thats only the second time I've heard of that. The first was from a customer and I told her that I had'nt heard that one before and without documentation (surprise! there was none) I would'nt believe it. Once again the framer is left to sort it out and take the heat. Terry
Terry, the big problem for custom framers is when we stop trying to figure out how to deal with new materials or challenging assignments that our clients bring to us. At that point we might as well hand the work over to the chains.

Keeping abreast of changes in inks, media, printing, adhesives art and photography consumes a lot of time. But it is rewarding--both financially and professionally--when a new customer comes in and says he or she was referred by one of the Big Box framers or chain photography stores because they didn't know how to handled the customer's project. Aren't we frequently saying here we aren't pushing the 50 percent off coupon because we are selling both framing and expertise?
Originally posted by Lesster:
All canvas will loosen and tighten depending on conditions. I hear you. I'm always afraid to stretch the **** out of them, but I think it's what needs to be done the first time.

I'm with Less on this one. I'm always afraid to stretch them too tight but sometimes it needs to be done. Sometimes I get them as tight as a drum head and then in a couple of months there just right. Stretching canvas and other printed junk is as much an art as it is a skill.
I don't care what people pay for a giclee. Our job is to stretch it and frame it.

Kathy said: "It is pretty large too, 40x35."
One thing to remember is to add "cross bars" ----|---- horizontal and vertical to the stretcher bars for proper support. Over time the bars may be bowing in somewhat and causing ripples.
Well Katman, I'm just venting and all I'm saying is a little help from the producer would be nice otherwise it's all guess work even if it is educated guess work and heaven help the framer that guesses wrong. That is why I've talked to numerous producers and artists and visited websites. Heck, I've even had one done of my own work and they still make me nervous. Maybe the industry is just too new and the cream has'nt risen to the top yet.Why would there need to be six different types of canvas each requiring different sealers and even the company producing them does'nt know what to reccomend? And this is a long standing and well respected company that directed me to the "canvas" manufacturers website. And why in the world would a company make "canvas" that won't stretch properly? Because it's cheap to manufacture and they can make more money and beyond that it's not their problem its the framers? Because it's not meant to be stretched? Then why don't they just say so? Should it be sealed? With what? Why don't they provide that information with the piece? I've had some that a varnish works on and others that it created a near disaster. Too many of these companies (yes, I know, not all, and may the good ones live long and prosper) seem to think that their resposibility ends when the print goes out the door. I guess it's not their problem it's the framers. All I need to do is educate myself by personally visiting every manufacturer of "canvas" and ink and every printer in the country as they all seem to do it different from each other right now but it's too much trouble to provide a little information with their product. Thank you very much for listening. I fell better now, I'll go back to work. Terry
We can debate their value forever but my only desire is to know how to frame them properly. Terry summed that up nicely. With all this technology and all the perceived value why are they so blasted hard to mount? This is the second one I have had go south on me this year. The last one was poorly made, from a third world country and not allowed to cure properly. This one is extraordnarily beautiful and appears to be well made. Why would this art medium be created without some thought given to framing? I don't get it.

I didn't use keyed bars on this one. I should have, but they only come in even inches and it is the type of picture I didn't want to lose 5/8 of an inch. I do have a couple crossbars on it though. The dustcover on the back seems to be a little ripply, almost like it has been wet. I wonder if something enviromental is at work here too.

I've always believed you weren't supposed to stretch the **** out of giclees. But this one went out of here without a ripple. I suppose for now I will restretch it on the existing bars, maybe a bit more tightly. If that doesn't work I guess I will have to dissassemble the frame and resize it and go for the keyed bars. Thing is, even if I do that chances are good it will loosen again. I don't have the same problem with oil paintings. Occasionally, one may sag, but the whole blasted thing doesn't ripple and loosen up.

I can't afford to turn these away, this one was an $800 job. I just want to know the best way to handle them. I'm not against mounting them like JRB said but it needs to be the acceptable practice. I know my customer paid some real money for this one, I don't want to inform her is isn't worht the canvas it was sprayed on.
Terry, I do understand your frustration. We frame these as well as make the prints for our customers. A few years back the options for selecting canvas and other materials were much more limited, as were the archival inksets, printers, and people willing to invest in and learn this technology. It has become a bit like digital photography: the manufacturers market the ease of use and low cost of their product while continuously rolling out new, "improved" versions before the test of time tells us anything about the current version.

I have customers regularly asking why they can't get good, consistent results when they make prints at home on their inexpensive desktop printer. Usually, they are buying whatever paper is on sale, regardless of brand or surface, and they don't know what profile means.

As framers, I think we will be challenged more by these products in the near term. Until the "digital revolution" settles a bit, it's quick money for anyone who can think of a new marketing angle. Consumers eventually will look for some standardization.

I do stretch most of the canvas prints I produce for my customers. Most of the prints I have framed that are produced elsewhere are already stretched. I was able to contact the printer of the few that were not stretched. This was helpful so I could reasearch the materials used.

The uncertainty is frustrating, but Judy laid out the task for us. I do give my customers as much info as I can on the options for handling their art, and the plus and minus of each. I offer a recommendation but the decision is theirs. If I have to restretch later, so be it. Well, easy for me to say today. I'll whine and vent when the "redos" start visiting.
Kathy, there does not seem to be an "acceptable practice" for dealing with this junk. I did pick up one thing from this thread that never occurred to me, wait for a hot day, or stretch it in a well heated environment. That just might help. If you can stretch it while it is in it's relaxed state (warm) it just might tighten up even more when it cools.

Perhaps, since the manufactures of these things are turning out stuff that even they can not explain. Should not we, the picture framers that it is being left up to, should start warning our customers about the problems inherent in giclees? We should recommend that people be wary of purchasing them in the first place.

It sounds to me, from the contents of this thread, that the giclee industry is a new one, that has not got it's act together. In the meantime, the buying public is getting screwed, and so is our industry, the picture framers. We lose a LOT of time and money dealing with these things.

Myself, I think we, the picture framers who this product is being dumped on to solve the display problems, AND the archival problems, should start charging considerably more to handle these items.

I have even had people bring in huge ones that they wanted just stretched (staples on the back, so they wont show) they did not want to spend money framing them. They also think stretching these things should only be around fifty dollars.

What about the archival issue? Is stretching these things damaging them? Is mounting damaging them? I think the answer is yes in both cases. Matting them and hinging them behind mats and glass would not be an acceptable method of display, also very costly. It is starting to seem like giclees on canvas can not be considered collectibles at all, if they are to be displayed on a wall.

We can stretch them over bars covered with Linco barrier tape and with stainless steel staples, but we would still be damaging the giclee, especially if we have to over tighten it.

We should also be educating the public on this issue as well. Basically, a giclee, on canvas, just boils down to a big, really cool, picture, that should not be considered a collectible or an investment.

Ouch. Is there a certificate of authenticity from the printer? I'd give the printer a call to see what kind of equipment he is using...ensuring pigmented inks and 100% cotton canvas.
The coating is not plastic, it is a specifically formulated coating for water resistance and uv protection. Our customers who are printing large are typically having crossbars as a part of the stretching. We have printed thousands of giclees with few problems and we do field calls and questions from framers or customers on behalf of their framer frequently. We'll even provide "play with" samples if requested.
To soapbox a bit, giclees offer an artist a means to provide quality, archival reproductions at an affordable price point for a collector who really loves a piece of artwork but can't afford an original. We work with customers whose originals are anywhere from $2,000 to $85,000, so a well-done giclee for several hundred fulfills a collector's dreams. And business for framers!
Why would there be problems for the printer who is producing thousands of these things? The thousands of problems created by these things is at the framing level. We have to stop what we are doing, find out who the printer is, wait for samples to "practice on", etc. etc. etc.

Kathyb, all a custom framer has is his time. Spending that valuable time on the phone or the Internet, hunting down printers or manufactures of customers work, is not productive, it takes our livelihood away from us. If your industry wants to dump this junk on the marketplace, how about dumping it already stretched?

Oops, afterthought: Kathyb, welcome to The Grumble, and thanks for posting. We DO appreciate your input on this or any other subject.

Emibub--although the coated canvas I use is 100% cotton, there are some blends made for inkjet and high synthetic cloth made for dye sub prints. I'm wondering if it is polyester content that is making the fabric loose over time. Also, just a thought but have you removed it from the frame to see if the weave is tight around the staples?

I have a canvas test print we did that I keep around the shop to show prospects. It is stretched, but not framed. It is over two years old and is just as tight as the day I stretched it. It has been exposed to high humidity (probably up to about 75% relative), low humidity (for our area that's about 30%), and temperature ranges from 65F to 85F. The cloth is fairly tight weave 100%cotton. Print is approx. 24x36.

One I made about five years ago is sitting at ground level in a waterfront condo. Again 100% cotton. This one is 36 x 60. Haven't seent he owner since December but at that time he still was very pleased with his print and frame.

If your cloth is bagging because it is a blend you may have to mount it.
I'll second what Katman said, see if the canvas is a blend. Alsoo, due to the rippling of the dust cover, I'll bet there is some sort of a moisture problem at work here. Find out all you can about where this piece is normally hung (above a fireplace? Bathroom? Damp wall of some sort more than likely, or maybe hot/cold cycle.)

Good luck, these things are enough to drive a poor framer to drink.