What is canvas and what is it used for?

Many people have heard of ‘canvas’ and own products made from canvas but not many actually know that much about the material and where it comes from.


From canvas bags right up to boat sails, tents and marquees, canvas is a popular material choice due to its durable and printable properties. But what actually is canvas?



What is canvas made of?


The earliest versions of canvas were mostly made of linen, although throughout its use canvas has also been manufactured using flax, jute and tow. Most modern canvas is made using cotton or linen combined with polyvinyl chloride.


How is canvas made?


For canvas made from cotton, it is woven using a plain weave which aids the materials durability, the tightness of the weave will also help determine some of its characteristics. For canvas used for painting, it can then be wrapped around wooden stretchers and prepared for a gesso treatment, this treatment layer ensures that the paint does not come into direct contact with the canvas and cause damage such as decay.



History of canvas


Canvas started to become widely used during the Italian Renaissance in the 16th century when Venetian painters were looking for an alternative to frescos. Painting on frescos was much more difficult than painting on canvas, as in humid conditions it was very difficult to dry.


Over the next few centuries, canvas was a simple and cost-effective material to produce on an industrial scale. With the raw materials easily accessible and a low production cost, canvas quickly became a staple material for visual art. Due to its easily customisable appearance, canvas is now used for many items including fashion accessories such as canvas bags and shoes.


Advantages of canva




Canvas is an extremely sturdy material meaning that it can be used for a range of different uses. Canvas can also help to reduce the consumption of other less eco friendly options e.g. single use plastic bags, canvas bags can be reused many times reducing the plastic waste.




A key benefit of using canvas is that it is easy to print on and therefore create customised products making it great for both personal and business use. Canvas items can easily have high quality images printed on them or likewise a business logo and contact details.




Maintaining canvas products is convenient due to its easy washability, usually canvas products can be cleaned with warm water and a tiny bit of washing detergent without the need for harsh or expensive cleaning products.




In order to protect the condition and durability of canvas products, there are some chemicals that can be added e.g. to add waterproof properties. Canvas usually responds well to these treatments that can help to enhance its characteristics prolonging the life of products made from canvas.




Canvas is a popular material used for a wide range of different products, it is easy to maintain and can be great for personalisations like printing. Be sure to read the specific care instructions relating to your products and these can vary.



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