Can you coat fine art papers?

Can you display them without glass? Will they fade? Are they protected? What about the coating, does it dry clear? Can I sell my art like this? What about UV protection? With as many questions as there are on this topic we wanted to take the time to devote a blog post on the subject.

The short answer to all of the above questions is yes. Lets start by exploring the background and process and then get into the techniques and application.

BACKGROUND

When displaying fine art paper prints, the traditional way has always been framing the print behind glass. This has been an acceptable method for fine art paper, but is it the most cost effective? What are some disadvantages? To start, 1 clear disadvantage is cost. Another is UV protection. While glass will protect your print from moisture and scuffing, if will not protect against UV light. This is where our Timeless Matte Varnish comes in. Timeless has a high level of UV inhibitors which offers incredible UV protection to your print. Moreover, Timeless will protect your print from scuffing, moisture, abrasion and fading. But the main advantage is the finish of Timeless Matte. When Timeless Matte dries, it is perfectly clear and has no sheen to it, making it a true matte. Our industry has waited too long for a true matte varnish, and with a strong investment and countless hours of R & D, we were able to make it happen. Having a true matte finish is a key advantage because you can now display your prints without glass, and the print will look just like it did when it came off your printer. Although it may seem as if your print is “exposed” due to the lack of having a glass barrier, it is not the case. Timeless dries as a protective layer on top of your print which creates a barrier between the print and the elements. Coating canvas prints have always been an industry standard, and has been a relatively easy process to perfect which we have detailed here and here. When it comes to fine art paper, there has typically been a misconception that it is difficult to achieve and causing the paper to curl. Most other types of varnish have a higher water content that can contribute to curl, and also could make some of the ink bleed. We specially formulated Timeless to work with canvas AND fine art paper so none of these issues ever occur. At the end of the day, we manufacture all our inkjet media and laminates to work TOGETHER, and you will see this process completed in the video below. For the video example, we used our Optica One smooth fine art paper. Optica One is a 300gsm, smooth bright white fine art matte paper and is made from 100% cotton. The close up footage you see at the conclusion of the video is actual shots of a print on Optica One that was coated with Timeless Matte.

Directions

The video below outlines the process for applying the Timeless varnish to your paper prints. There are a few key points to remember when applying the coating. Timeless needs to be mixed thoroughly for 2-3 minutes. Using a foam roller and roller tray, pour the amount of Timeless you need into the tray. Use enough coating to saturate your roller, but let excess coating drip off the roller. Do not use the bumps on the roller tray as this texture may transfer from the foam roller to your print.

When you have covered your roller, begin coating the print by rolling in multiple directions. Use a light amount of pressure when applying as this helps the varnish dry evenly without dry spots. At first, you will see roller marks and bubbles. This is normal and will go away with additional passes. After you have covered the entire print, begin reducing the amount of pressure you apply until there are no visible roller marks or bubbles. At this point you can stop rolling and let the print begin to dry. The print will appear milky for a few minutes, but as the Timeless dries the varnish will become clear. This process takes about 15-20 minutes; longer depending on your temperature and relative humidity. The prints need to remain flat during the drying process, and do not move them until they are completely dry. Using excess varnish will result in longer dry times, thicker finished prints, and may cause the edges to curl slightly. Remember, Timeless is a water based laminate so using a small amount will produce the best results.

Videos

Marc Leftoff at Gallery Street shows us his technique for applying Glamour 2 Giclee Varnish to our Elegance Velvet Textured Fine Art Paper:

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  • Rich Nicoloff

    Will HVLP spraying work, too?

    • http://www.breathingcolor.com Paul Morales

      Hi Rich,

      You can apply Timeless via HVLP to fine art paper. Take care to not “overcoat” the prints as they will not absorb the amount of varnish that canvas will. Spray left to right and top to bottom to cover the print evenly. This also works best if you spray your prints on a 45 degree angle. This helps the varnish dry evenly and without any dripping. I recommend testing on a few sample prints so you can find out what works best for you.

  • Wipatrick

    Paul—my question is, can you add texture with the use of the UV inhibitors your company sells e.g. as in brushstrokes. Also if you can’t how would one go about achieving adding texture this without compromising the longevity of the print.

    BTW: I am just getting into this and you guys seem to have it together.

    • http://www.breathingcolor.com Paul Morales

      Hello Wipatrick,

      Great question! While our varnish was designed to dry perfectly smooth and crystal clear, you actually CAN add texture when coating your prints. There are a few ways to do this and I have discussed these methods with quite a few customers of ours. Your mention of a brush has worked for users, but you can also use the foam rollers you may already have. The trick is to roll over the print while it is drying as this will lightly “agitate” the coating and create a textured surface. You would do the same process with a brush but the brush has the advantage of adding “brush strokes” to the varnish.

      With these tricks you should be able to achieve the look you need. As always, I recommend testing the process on a sample/scrap print until you are comfortable with the technique.

      • Wipatrick

        Thanks Paul. I test in areas first. Next question which I left out. You may not be able to quantify this. Are there pigments to your timeless coating or go over already coated art with a acrylic. I am guessing it is not advised. Next next: can you paint areas in timeless matt and then glamour to have a mix pattern? How would that be handled if so.

        • http://www.breathingcolor.com Paul Morales

          We do have customers that varnish the prints with Timeless and then paint on top of that. Acrylic and Oil based paints are most commonly used for this type of application. Just make sure that the coating is completely dry to the touch before you begin.

          I have not heard of anyone using different coating finishes on the same print in different areas, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I would advise against physically mixing Timeless and Glamour 2 together in one container, but you could use them each on the same print. It would work best by applying 1 coat of matte first, and then on top of that touching up the areas that you want Satin or Gloss.

  • Eric Nielsen

    Hi Paul – Do you have any techniques for spraying Timeless on Textured art papers and Canvas that will not fill in the “valleys” of the substrate. For example, we’ve just started spraying Timeless with an HVLP setup on Lyve Canvas and we’re noticing that the weave of the canvas plugs up. It’s mostly noticeable in shadow areas.

    Thanks!

    • http://www.breathingcolor.com Paul Morales

      Hello Eric,

      Great question. To get an even, smooth finish you need to spray in multiple directions. Spraying left to right and top to bottom insures that the varnish is covering the canvas (or textured fine art paper) in each direction, so no area should be more or less saturated. I’ve included the Timeless spray video below so you can see our recommended technique.

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  • Elestudio

    Hi,

    Is it possible to coat fine art papers with glamour II? I have quite a bit of it in both matte and glossy!

  • Elestudio

    Hi,

    Is it possible to coat fine art papers with glamour II? I have quite a bit of it in both matte and glossy!

    • http://www.breathingcolor.com Paul Morales

      Yes, you can coat with Glamour 2! Please take a look at the video above in which Gallery Street coats our Elegance Velvet Paper with Glamour 2.

  • Elestudio

    Hi,

    Is it possible to coat fine art papers with glamour II? I have quite a bit of it in both matte and glossy!

  • Jim

    In the article, you seem to distinguish matte varnish on fine art paper as having the necessary attributes   of durability and “less curling.” Is the same true for the gloss varnish? Are there qualities of the gloss varnish (or if using Glamour II Gloss&Matte mixture) that make it unsuitable for fine art paper?
    Thanks,
    Jim

    • http://www.breathingcolor.com Paul Morales

      Not at all. We tend to use the Matte finish because it dries clear and keeps the original look of the matte fine art paper. You certainly can use Gloss, Satin, or any kind of mix to achieve the finish you prefer. In the video provided by Gallery Street, they are using Glamour 2 Gloss varnish and get great results!

  • Jim

    In the article, you seem to distinguish matte varnish on fine art paper as having the necessary attributes   of durability and “less curling.” Is the same true for the gloss varnish? Are there qualities of the gloss varnish (or if using Glamour II Gloss&Matte mixture) that make it unsuitable for fine art paper?
    Thanks,
    Jim

  • Jim

    In the article, you seem to distinguish matte varnish on fine art paper as having the necessary attributes   of durability and “less curling.” Is the same true for the gloss varnish? Are there qualities of the gloss varnish (or if using Glamour II Gloss&Matte mixture) that make it unsuitable for fine art paper?
    Thanks,
    Jim

  • J Riley Stewart

    I’ve been coating fine art paper (Optica 1) with various varnishes, including Timeless. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, but one I have yet to overcome is the curling I experience, when either spraying or rolling the coat. Do you folks have any tips for recovering from curling. I’m applying pressure at the time (after drying of course), using prints sandwiched between museum art board under a heavy sheet of melamine. It takes days and still doesn’t give me a completely flat print. Any suggestions are extremely appreciated!
    J Riley Stewart

    Oh.. these are large prints, 24x30in and up.

    • http://www.breathingcolor.com/ Justin Bodin

      Curl is certainly a difficult problem for most people who deal with fine art papers. Have you ever looked into the D-Roller?

  • Hshoja

    I like the end result qualiy but due to curling I have not been able to use the metod. Is it possible to glue the pictures to Gator board and then add the varnish? Do you have instructions, material and BKMs to Glue the picture to Foam or Gator board? Thanks

  • Ellie

    Hello! I was wondering if Timeless can be used on an acrylic painting? 

    • http://www.breathingcolor.com/ Justin Bodin

      Hi Ellie,

      Yes, Timeless can be used over acrylic once it’s fully dried. We have customers who roll or brush the Timeless on for this application.

  • Blis Martinez Tatad

    hi.. can this be used also on a soft pastel paintings? thanks

    • http://www.breathingcolor.com/ Justin Bodin

      Hi Blis,

      I have to admit that I’ve never tried this. It is a water-based coating, so you may see some smudging/smearing if you try to roll or brush the Timeless on.

      You can pick up a pint for only $20 (or less if you see the coupon code!) so I think it’d be worth a try.

  • David T.

    Can you spray or roll Timeless on fine art GLOSS baryta type papers such as Harman Gloss Baryta?
    I would love to matte this type paper without the glass or acrylic just using Timeless. Any info or experience with this combination? Thanks!

    • http://www.breathingcolor.com/ Justin Bodin

      David,

      You sure can! You’d have to spray it on, as I fear rolling would result in ink uptake.