The alternate title for this post is "how to make a new thing look really old in 30 minutes."
Last Sunday my husband Joe wanted to make a duffle bag to carry his dive gear to work in so we came up with the bag in the photo. Halfway through, Joe decided the bag would be better if it were made of waxed canvas and so with that we decided to attempt creating our own homemade waxed canvas.
There are a lot of different recipes online for the wax. Ingredients include beeswax, paraffin, turpintine, linseed oil and some other more random things. We decided to keep it pretty natural with a simple 75% beeswax / 25% paraffin formula.
Waxing canvas deepens the color, makes it waterproof, and also makes it much stiffer. If you'd like to try it for yourself, here's the process we used.
Of course, the first thing you need is something to put the wax on. I made this mini duffle bag from the same khaki colored washed cotton canvas that I use in my board bags and decided that it would be our first victim.
Look how nice and clean it is. I'd just finished making it here. A lovely, light canvas bag... now let's age it 100 years.
Step 1. Put the solid wax into a can, like a clean soup or coffee can. Pick the formula that sounds good to you. Like I said, we went with a beeswax/parafin combo, but you can do any formula you like. You don't even have to mix them at all.
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. We got some cheap, large craft paintbrushes to use 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! I thought this was really cool. It goes into all the seams and folds, the whole coating smooths out, and it takes on a nice aged appearance.
So here is the finished waxed canvas duffle. 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 I was able to create a rad wrinkled texture by scrunching the bag up and then smoothing it out.
There's lots of room to play around and make different textures. The wax can be reheated over and over, wiped off, and reapplied.
It looks like a completely different bag, and since I love old, lived with things it was right up my alley. It ended up looking very much like my old WWII army bag. They honestly look like they belong together now!
To finish it off I made a long shoulder strap of nautical rope and some cool brass clasps. I think it would make a great toiletry bag for a guy. Or a camera bag. Or a very un-girly purse. It's super tough now, and fairly waterproof, so it could really be used for anything!
Anyone who knows me knows I like to create. Even though drawing/art is my main thing, I take a lot of breaks from it to try other forms of creativity. It keeps my brain fresh. Working on the same thing too long tends to make it feel heavy, makes the project seem dull and its fun to try new things. That said, I'm SO excited to announce my latest project: Chapman Board Bags!
I have a WWII army bag that I inherited from my grandfather and it's one of my most favorite things. When I take trips it gets stuffed full of supplies and gear and off it goes. It's been all over the place and gotten lots of abuse, but the worse it's treated, the better it looks. The only problem is, even tho it holds a lot, it's not big enough for my surfboard. So I decided to make a board bag in the same style as the army bag, something that had the same old school vibe, and was well made out of durable stuff.
My grandmother taught me how to sew, so I had a pretty good idea what I was doing. It turned out to be a lot of fun too, and I made a pile of them. They're available for sale on Etsy or through me directly. So far, each one is unique even tho they all share the same old school aesthetic.
Check them out at the website: ChapmanAtSea.com and on Etsy. I love making these things and am super proud of them. I did a lot of research on the design, materials and sewing methods to make sure the quality would be awesome. Customs are available: customer orders, custom colors & sizes, all of it. Let me know what you want.
Here is a little step by step look at the making on one of my latest pillows. I didn't realize how much I would like drawing on fabric, but it's really fun!
With just about everything I do, there's usually an initial sketch. Even if it's a drawing, I like to get the overall layout down quickly, so I'll draw it out and then go and re-draw it somewhere else when it's all planned.
This photo is good because it shows how important it is to have all your supplies laid out. Coffee, snacks, sunglasses for some reason. I think this day they had the vanilla bean scones = awesome. Those thing are so good and they almost NEVER have them. Don't know what the problem is. If you know a Starbucks that carries them regularly I'd love to know about it. Anyways... So in this case I was drawing on a white tee. I like to use vintage fabric, but this was a new shirt. The fabric gets stretched over a board and pinned down and I get to sketching. Should have done more progress shots, but it only occurred to me halfway through, so this is what you get.
It took maybe 3 hours to draw the whole thing. I like to be picky about shading and things. And I'll draw over the same line probably 10 times until it's the thickness and texture I want.
My original plan was to have the pillow be the shapes of the owls, but I sewed it up that way and the seams weren't laying right. It was passable, but not really nice, so I took it all apart and made it into a square shaped patchwork pillow instead. Doing the patchwork was pretty involved, but I think it came out great. And that's the story of how this pillow was made.
I used to live in an airstream. It was a 1973 Sovereign, mostly original and I got into it completely by accident. My husband and I were living near Asheville, NC and he had a job to do in South Florida. Months in a hotel sounded like not the most fun ever, so we got the Airstream and, having never camped before, decided it was going to be home. And it turned out that for about a year it was the coziest, most fun home we'd ever had.
It's been about 10 months since we came off the road and I was just sitting here remembering the good times. Yes, it's small. Sure, there are a few inconveniences. But assuming you're with someone who's company you enjoy it's actually really, really wonderful. The feeling of freedom is something you can't get any other way, you're in places you couldn't be otherwise, and you spend so much more time outside in the fresh air. It feels really great. And, since you're not actually in a tent you can have your vintage dishes and such, which make all those picnics a little extra special.
Another benefit to airstream travel, easy pet transport. We lived with our cat Reef and dog Silas. They adapted just fine, as you can see, and snugged right in.
One summer we took our vacation in Melbourne Beach. It was nice because the water was fairly close. A good hotel is always nice, but it doesn't come close to the relaxed & casual feeling of this kind of living.
Cooking tikka masala over the coals outside. Some interior shots.
Trailer Trash. Stopped by the side of the road, somewhere in the middle of nowhere Florida, waiting for some friends.
So that's enough reminiscing for one day. It was a good time tho, an adventure, and I like to think I keep the same spirit with me even now that I have some roots down.
Wednesday is craft day and I'm really looking forward to it. It's nice to have a time set up to get away from the usual and try something new. I have a friend who's an amazing craftsman/artist and she lets me hang out with her from time to time. I love seeing how other people work on things.
Last week I started sketching on vintage tee fabric and came up with some cute little animals pillows. I was pretty much delighted by them. Yep, that's the word: delighted.
So this week I'm expecting to do some more fabric sketching. Found a skirt made out of beautiful linen that would look quite nice on the couch. The fabric that is, I don't decorate with skirts. So that's what the next pillow will be out of. I'm thinking of drawing rabbits today. Little snuggly bunnies. And some owls in a row would make a good pillow as well. Trying new things. Always more exciting that doing the same old all the time. And btw, all these things I'm making will be in the etsy shop.