Canvas

Is cotton canvas here to stay?

Originally popularized as a useful sail cloth material and an excellent painting medium, canvas has now made its way into applications as widespread as tent material, casual shoes, and designer handbags. With the advances in science and technology various synthetic, or “man-made fibres”, as these are called, have been introduced in the market raising the question whether canvas fabric is here to stay.

Historically, canvas was originally popularized as a painting medium among Venetian Renaissance artists. Long before it came into popularity as a painting medium, canvas had been the default material for making sailcloth for millennia. Even Ancient Egyptian sails bear close resemblance to modern canvas sailcloth.

Throughout the centuries, canvas never lost its popularity as a sailcloth material. While modern sails sometimes feature synthetic fibers, cotton and linen canvas remain popular choices for sailcloth. Canvas gradually made its way into other outdoor-oriented applications, and for centuries, it was the most popular material for tents and other forms of temporary shelters.

At some point, canvas started making its mark in the arena of fashion accessories and apparel. Today, it’s as common to find expensive designer handbags that incorporate canvas as it is to find canvas-exterior cold-weather work gear. Despite the plenitude of synthetic materials now available, most types of canvas used in apparel remain cotton-based.

In the modern era, canvas is primarily produced for painting materials followed by tents used in disaster relief and humanitarian efforts; water and flame resistant tarpaulins and sunshades, etc. While some sailboats still feature canvas sails, sailboats are not very popular in this era, and many modern sailors have replaced their canvas sails with synthetic alternatives.

Canvas also remains somewhat popular in the world of outdoor gear. Most contemporary tents feature synthetic materials, but some camping purists swear by the benefits of genuine canvas tents. Similarly, many outdoors enthusiasts believe that canvas tarpaulins are better than their synthetic alternatives.

In the apparel industry, canvas is primarily used to make outdoor gear and work garments. A variety of popular brands, for instance, make winter work jackets that feature canvas outer layers. These coats are especially popular in parts of the American West where winters are very cold but generally dry.

The only major application of canvas in high fashion is handbags. Some of the world’s most coveted handbags feature canvas exteriors, and this material’s resistance to water and stains provides it with desirable longevity. In the world of casual wear, designers sometimes use canvas to make shoes, the most notable being Converse’s original high-top sneakers.

Since canvas primarily contains natural materials, the production of this material has a relatively low negative impact on the environment. Gesso, the finishing material that is applied to painting canvas, commonly consists of a mix of natural and synthetic materials.

The production of linen and cotton have the potential to be environmentally neutral when performed correctly. To ensure that your canvas is environmentally friendly, choose fabric that is natural.

Looking at the trajectory of canvas it clearly shows that it has remained popular throughout centuries in one form or the other. The almost neutral impact of growing cotton and weaving canvas is a big advantage in the modern world marred with climate change. Therefore, it appears canvas is very much here to stay!

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