Stretched “canvas”

For almost as long as I’ve had the scanning electron micrograph (SEM) images, I’ve wanted to get one printed on canvas really big to show off in my house. This dream was somewhat squashed by the reality of just how much it costs to get an image printed on canvas and stretched onto a frame (upwards of 200$ for the size I wanted). And so, for a year and a half, I went micrograph-less. It was a hard time. With only my periodic shower curtain and rhinovirus soap dispenser to show off my true geekiness to all who visited me.

Not surprisingly, it was science that presented me with an alternative. While attending a poster session at a conference a couple weeks ago, Mike and I noticed that one of the posters was printed on vinyl and not paper. Turns out that Kinkos had a promotion on that made printing on vinyl only 6$/square foot. Slowly, the gears in my head started churning. Surely vinyl could be stretched over a frame much the same way canvas is, and was I not currently in possession of staple gun? I then decided that I would get one of my micrographs printed on vinyl and then stretch it myself.

So I took my image, enlarged it to 48″x30″ (4 feet by 2/5 feet) and took it to Kinkos to get printed. I then went to the local art supply store and bought the pieces for a frame in 44 and 26 inch pieces. It was about 70$ for the print (taxes in) and 15$ for the frame. I then brought it home and with a handy dandy tutorial, began to assemble the whole thing. Besides the fact that I had to use the mechanical staple gun again and ran out of staple halfway through, it wasn’t too bad. Turns out stapling pine is a lot easier than MDF with a thick layer of foam, but it still hurt my hands.

It turned out great and you can’t even tell that it is printed on vinyl and not canvas when you look at it. And now I get to sleep with an image of a retina above my head (you can even see the rods and cones).

Stretched vinyl micrograph

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