Sunday, January 19, 2014



“Sailing….Oh the canvas can do miracles , just you wait and see

Christopher Cross

About this time of year my husband and I might be planning a trip to the South Pacific to visit his relatives.  Of course, sailing, and any water sport is the sport of choice there.  Moving here, he traded his boat for a bicycle and the sea for the desert.  When one thinks of the fabric we call canvas we think of sails, although, today with modern technology, sails are manufactured of lightweight, but very durable synthetics.

But this is not what brought the subject of canvas fabric to my mind.  I happened upon some sketches of Native American pottery and decided to paint some small samples.  So out came my pad of primed, canvas paper, which I use when I paint textile samples.

So what exactly is canvas fabric?  Actually it can be cotton, hemp, linen or combinations.  It is a heavy, coarsely woven, plain weave or twill.  Another term is Duck, which originated in Denmark (doek, which means cloth).  There are many types, but the most common association is of cotton in the griege (gray) state used for sails, sacking and other industrial uses. It can be dyed and treated with waterproofing chemicals for tents awnings and tarps.  A lighter-weight canvas can be used for belts , bags and sneakers.

I have two heavy canvas tote bags from a well-known merchant of outdoor goods.  I have used these for many, many years.  They are durable, washable and I can fit an incredible amount of essential “stuff” into them, best of all they fold flat when not in use.

Artist canvas of the best quality has been, historically, linen.  For most of us, artist canvas of cotton may be purchased as bolt cloth, primed and unprimed, cloth stretched on a frame, affixed to a board or as a loose sheets. 

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