How to Wax Canvas with Tasha Chapman

Canvas bags are cool, but they’re a little plain. Painting on them is one way to spruce things up, or you could wax them. Tasha Chapman (who makes sweet surf board bags) and her husband Joe embarked on this project to give one of Tasha’s canvas duffle bags a rustic, vintage look. The change this it goes through is quite amazing. Here’s how they did it, along with pictures of the process. 

 

How to Wax Canvas

by Tasha Chapman

Waxing canvas is a fairly simple thing that can be done at home and will probably take less than an hour.  When the wax goes into the fabric it makes it stiffer, water resistant, and my favorite part, gives it an aged, lived with appearance full of texture and character.

The first thing to do is figure out what your wax will be made of. There are a lot of different formulas, all with slightly different effects, so experiment to find what you like. Some of the usual ingredients are beeswax, paraffin & linseed oil. Personally, I like to just go with 100% beeswax because it’s completely natural and smells good, but I’ve also used a 75% beeswax/25% paraffin formula with good results.

I decided to use a Chapman at Sea Sandbag – a khaki beach tote, as my victim here.  Here are the steps to follow.

Step 1. Put the solid wax into a can, like a clean soup or coffee can. Place the can in a pot with some water in it and simmer it.  Basically you’re creating a double boiler to melt the wax.  When the wax is all liquid, it’s time to paint it on the canvas.

 

Step 2.  Paint the wax into the canvas and say goodbye to the fresh, clean fabric. Use a cheap craft paintbrush for this. It makes a bit of a mess too, so be sure to do it over something you don’t mind getting wax all over. It’s going to look really bad at this point. The wax will be uneven and might dry with drips all over. 

 

Step 3. For it to look right, you need to even out the wax and remelt it into the fabric.  Hit it with the heat from a hairdryer on the hottest setting  (or use a heat gun if you want to get serious).  You’ll see the wax start to warm up and sink deep into the fabric.  That’s what you want!  This is my favorite part.  I love watching it change color and melt into all the seams and folds. At this point the whole coating smooths out, and it takes on a nice aged appearance.

You’ll notice the khaki has turned a lot darker and it’s almost an army green color. This is because the beeswax has a yellow tint to it. Another cool feature of the waxed canvas is that it can be folded and it holds its shape.  So you can play with it to create a rad wrinkled texture by scrunching the bag up and then smoothing it out. The wax can also be reheated over and over, wiped off, and reapplied until it’s just what you want.

See more of Tasha’s projects around the web: 

http://www.chapmanatsea.com

http://www.jewelwing.com/

http://www.jewelwing.com/blog.html

@chapmanatsea (Insta)