Giclee (pronounced gee-clay) canvases are printed by computer and have become popular among stitchers as an alternative to hand-paionted needlepoint. This process is used by artists to make high-end prints of their original works and by museum shops to have a wider selection of works available to purchase.
Even so, many stitchers remain cautious about stitching computer-printed canvases. They may remember stitching a canvas that flaked off as they were stitching. Or they may have experienced a canvas that ran when it got wet. Or they may think that computer-printing is “too new” to be a good alternative.
In fact, computer-printed needlepoint canvases have been around for more than 20 years. While earlier canvases did flake or run, this is no longer true. The companies that make giclee canvases invest in keeping their printers up to date. Today canvases that are produced this way are colorfast and permanent. In fact they are equal to hand-painted canvases for durability.
Even so they are produced by machine not by hand and this can, and often does, have an effect on the design.
No canvas created by mechanical means will be as perfect as a stitched-painted canvas. That’s because it is only a polite fiction that needlepoint canvas is actually evenly woven. There are variations in the weave of the canvas that will cause a straight line not to look “straight” (i.e. on one canvas thread) when produced by mechanical means.
The companies I know who create giclee canvases (and I know several) work very hard to straighten the canvas as much as possible before printing, but while this can minimize crooked lines, it will not eliminate the problem.
In addition, you might find yourself with problems because you are expecting to see more of the picture on the canvas. Most needlepoint designs are pixelated; they are changed so that the image is turned into square pixels where each square is an intersection. Those designs translate to canvas pretty well.
If the source is not pixelated, for example if you took a school picture and printed it onto canvas, you get an odd result. A result you don’t get in Cross Stitch. That’s because needlepoint canvas has more hole than thread. Cross Stitch fabric has more threads than holes. Where there are holes, there cannot be anything printed, so the information is lost. This will make some images harder to stitch than handpaints or pixelated images. You just have to make executive decisions to give your needlepoint the impression you want.
When you stitch any canvas that is printed by machine instead of stitch-painted by hand, you will find some intersections that are not a single color. This is also true of hand-painted canvases that are not stitch painted.
Where a canvas is not a single color, you will need to make a decision about which color to make the stitch. I take a guess based on the lines and edges around it and I’m prepared to change this if needed. Other folks leave out these stitches and stitch them at the end.
Less expensive, mass-produced printed canvases such as those in inexpensive kits, have canvases that have not bee straightened. Their lines are significantly more crooked and most of the intersections have more than one color. I have found this not to be true on giclee canvases. The pictures through out this post are giclee canvases from Art Needlepoint that I have stitched.
Try a giclee canvas, they’re great!