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!