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Make it proofed – waterproofed.

As spring is creeping in and battling hard with the remainders of the winter, the weather is getting nicer and nicer and season start is rushing towards us, I still have to finish my new market stall. It is coming along – yesterday was bathing day, and the main part of the tent – almost four metres on seven metres – took a hot bath in our tub.

Now that it is getting closer to being a tent, one of the biggest concerns (my German expression of choice would be “die größten Bauchschmerzen” – literally “the biggest stomach ache”) is how to get it waterproof. Seriously waterproof.

We bought heavy linen fabric in the hopes of it being waterproof due to its nature – some heavy fabric, pure linen, can soak up water and then get so dense and tight that it can be even used as a bucket. Totally waterproof. Unfortunately, it became very clear very soon that our specimen of heavy linen fabric is not like that. Yes, it is heavy, but the fibres will not swell up enough when soaked in water to get it completely impermeable to water, and thus I need some additional waterproofing method.

And that’s my problem. I want to have the tent/stall as accurate as possible, but I will draw a line at non-secure waterproofiness. I need my goods (and myself, but the goods for selling are more important here) to stay dry no matter how hard it rains. And I am willing to compromise if this needs some modern trick – though I would prefer a period way.

So there are some possibilities now that I have already found, among them using linseed oil varnish; using oil paint from linseed oil varnish with a pigment/filler mixed in to paint the tent much as an oil-cloth (with the added bonus of decorative possibilities); using store-bought waterproofing liquids; it would even be a possibility to buy silicone at the hardware store and “paint” the cloth with that. I’m still undecided, I would like to test each of the methods but I am shying away a little from buying all of those things for a small test scrap of fabric, and am generally feeling quite uneasy about this part of the project.
And I’d be very happy about any input that you might be able to give.

This entry was posted in markets and fairs, planning, the tent-making saga, work-related. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Make it proofed – waterproofed.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I checked the archives of the Norsefolk Yahoo group, a very thorough internet forum on re-enacting, for methodes of waterproofing tents and they mostly write about lanolyne or beeswax. But, since nobody will chastise you for being practical, just go for a modern safe stuff. Only silicone might give a plastic-like look that I would try to avoid.


  2. Phiala says:

    Most of the authentic methods are also highly flammable. I'd go with a modern less-flammable method purely for safety reasons. You don't want to be wet, but I would guess that you don't want to worry about every stray spark either.

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