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How to Apply Adhesive Vinyl to Canvas (So it Sticks)

If you ever tried to get adhesive vinyl to stick to canvas you know it can be a struggle.

CAMEO 4, oracal 651, canvas, silhouette 101, silhouette america blog

For this reason I almost always suggest using heat transfer vinyl on canvas. But sometimes, that's just not here's the trick (or actually three of them) for getting vinyl to stick to canvas.

There are two important factors the transfer tape you use and two how you prepare your canvas.

Since we all know it's a challenge to get vinyl to stick to a canvas you want to give it the best shot, but NOT using a high tack transfer tape.  A high tack tape makes it harder for the vinyl to release onto the surface, in this case a canvas.

CAMEO 4, oracal 651, canvas, transfer tape, reverse canvas

Instead use a low tack transfer tape OR if your piece of vinyl is one solid piece you can hand place it without transfer tape.

CAMEO 4, oracal 651, canvas, transfer tape, Acrylic Spray

Secondly, the vinyl will stick to the canvas much easier if you spray the canvas with a clear coat first. I would recommend Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Spray.

Let the acrylic coat dry for a few minutes before applying the vinyl.  I like to use the hinge method to make sure my vinyl decal is centered and straight.

CAMEO 4, oracal 651, canvas, transfer tape, hinge method

And finally, don't try to apply the vinyl to the canvas on the frame without either taking the canvas off the frame or putting some kind of support behind the canvas.

CAMEO 4, adhesive vinyl, canvas, transfer tape, tips and tricks

This will give you something to push against when you are trying to burnish the vinyl onto the canvas so you get a good stick.

CAMEO 4, adhesive vinyl, canvas, transfer tape, tips and tricks

Even this mandala leaf cut file with all it's small, intricate pieces was easily able to transfer onto the canvas with these tricks! 

CAMEO 4, adhesive vinyl, canvas, transfer tape, tips and tricks

And is this vinyl not the coolest thing you've ever seen? It's just white Oracal 651 vinyl that we applied alcohols inks, then sealed with a clear coat, left to dry for a day and then cut!

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  1. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial and the link to the cool leaf file!

  2. Wow! Alcohol ink on vinyl? What a great idea!!

  3. When is the 20" Silhouette Cameo Pro going to be released?
    msmitoagain at Thanks

  4. Though I didn't have a problem getting 651 to stick on plain canvas myself, you can also paint a thin layer of Gesso on the canvas before placing your vinyl. It's an artist primer they use for oil painting. You can find it in the "artist" dept. of most craft stores or art store.

  5. For those of you who have used the alcohol inks on vinyl... I know to use 651 Oracal, but do you use gloss vinyl or matte?

  6. I paint, so I keep canvases here, but I have done quite a few vinyled canvasses over the years as well. Your tips are perfect for getting canvases done.

    Another trick that REALLY helps with the center of the canvas is to stack and tape some chipboard together to be the thickness of the wood mounting bars of the canvas. I made mine several years ago and still use it! My chipboard stack is 10x10 as that tends to be the smallest width of canvas I normally do, but you could use a smaller (ie 8x8) stack of chip board and move it as needed.


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