Tag Archives: Canvas covers

Canvas Troubleshooting

 

If you have canvas tents or are thinking of getting some, you need to know something about canvas care as well as looking after tents in general. Some site owners avoid tents because of the maintenance – one should remember that they are tents after all and you can’t just put them up and not think about them when the Weather Gods are playing or let them sit unheated through the winter. If you want something with lower maintenance, best go for something more solid like a hut but personally, I think the romance, beauty and simplicity of nomadic tents, such as tipis and yurts, is well worth the effort.

tipi drip strip

Looking up in a tipi

So canvas…first I would advise you NOT go for cheap canvas however tempting it seems. A lot of the imported Mongolian yurts are made from a heavy canvas which is made for the dry climate of Mongolia but doesn’t adapt well to damp European climates and the canvas will quickly leak. Our main work is making yurt covers, and have re-covered many a Mongolian yurt barely in its infancy.

spirits intent

Sewing yurt covers

The usual canvas used in the UK is 12oz FWR (flame, water and rot-proofed) poly/cotton, Before 2007 it was cotton that was more popular, but the rot-proofing agent used in the proofing was banned, so a new one was used which was actually water-soluble! It meant that there was a batch of bad canvas around that time and we heard horror stories of canvas rotting after a year. Although a new rot-proofing agent was developed, the industry had moved into poly/cotton as it is more rot-resistant and stronger, with 50% polyester content it’s really a game changer.

It’s hard to say how long canvas lasts as it depends on many factors, so we don’t offer any guarantee on its life, but if looked after, one can expect 5-7 years for a tent left up all year. One consideration in pitching your tents is the choice of location. If pitched under trees, the canvas gets dirty from falling leaves and the run-off from tree sap and this can contribute to it perishing. Trees to be extra careful of are pine and willow. Also, obviously, if pitched in the shade the canvas doesn’t dry out so quickly and generally in the UK, the damp is more damaging than UV (although this summer has challenged that trend!) In hotter climates, such as Southern Europe the UV exposure continent, damages the cotton element of the canvas so it is worth thinking about alternatives to poly/cotton (see below about acrylic canvas).

Our Yurt and tipi garden in Israel

Next …general maintenance… we recommend reproofing the canvas once a year which can greatly increase its longevity. Before reproofing one should clean the canvas with a soft brush and warm water, no soap, no scrubbing, no pressure washing, but as long as you reproof the canvas well it should be OK. Remember that any cleaning will remove some of the proofing. (Obviously, white canvas shows the dirt and mould more than other colours, so many of our customers, when replacing yurt covers are choosing to replace white covers with darker colours, such as sand).

Reproofing is usually done with a paint-on solution when the tent goes up for the season – various products are available, but mostly only contain waterproofing and rotproofing agents. Recently the FWR proofing solution used by the manufacturers themselves has become available. (We can supply this at manufacturers cost). We have heard stories of tent covers being sent to professional cleaners, who have little experience of canvas and come back unproofed and sometimes perished although there are now companies who can clean and reproof for you.

Another consideration in canvas care is if the tents are left standing through the winter, they should be heated at least every few days, usually with a wood-burning stove (or open fire in a tipi) and, if the tents are not being used, they should be taken down when the canvas is bone dry and packed somewhere dry and rodent free. The summer before last we had a mice invasion on our site in Italy and we were surprised to discover that the mice chose to eat through the proofed canvas of the yurts rather than the wool blankets and mattresses inside. No accounting for taste. (Troubleshooting rodents and creepy-crawlies is for another chapter).

More yurt covers

There is a common perception that cottons are more ‘natural’ than synthetic fabrics, but people forget that they are proofed with chemicals. Our customers are choosing to go for acrylic fabrics as an alternative to poly/cotton as, although much more expensive, it is a better investment longterm, it greatly outlasts the poly/cotton as it doesn’t rot and it’s also stronger. The acrylic proofing isn’t in a coating but in the thread itself, thus doesn’t need reproofing the same way. It is a woven fabric so looks almost identical to the poly/cotton, yet feels nicer to touch and stays clean and new looking for much longer.

Acrylic canvas wedding pavillion

We are Spirits Intent, expert makers of nomadic tents and specialists in the canvas side of things, call on us if you need any advice on canvas or need new covers for your structures.

Acrylic Canvas

Yes, to most tent people, the idea of acrylic canvas, sounds strange and unnatural, on these beautiful, traditional nomadic structures. But, the truth is, of course, that to make cotton and polycotton able to withstand the elements in a European climate, various chemical products need to be applied. Don’t worry, all have passed safety tests.

If you have lived in or worked with canvas, you are well aware of the black spot mould which appears and the inevitable deterioration of the fabric. We recommend, every year, to clean the canvas with a soft brush and mild detergent and then to reproof the canvas with a reproofing solution (we can supply a paint-on FWR (flame, water and rot-proofed) solution). Acrylic canvas, however, doesn’t rot.

8 years ago we made this yurt cover for Tithe Farm B&B in Lincolnshire, England. They chose to have acrylic canvas, rather than the usual cotton canvas we were working with at that time, for longevity.

After standing outside for 8 years in Britain (to quote Biff Vernon, the yurt owner): “The fabric is still completely waterproof. The only problem we had was that where the six ropes that hold the top star down rub on the canvas at the roof/wall angle little holes have been worn. We stuck patches on with fabric glue to reinforce these and wrapped the ropes in a fabric sleeve to reduce the pressure. That might be less of a problem with curved roof poles but ours are straight so there’s quite a sharp angle”. (This issue can be prevented by threading a small piece of clear plastic hosepipe onto the star ropes, to sit on this shoulder of the roof rafter).

(Guess which is new and which is 8 years later).

image2-3

A more natural fabric like cotton or even polycotton would have well perished long ago in these conditions. The synthetic fabrics are woven and look very much the polycotton, only hang a bit more stiffly.

And here is the lovely little wedding pavilion at Cornish Tipi Holidays which we made 7 years ago, which we have heard, is still fine, only a bit ‘not perfect and wedding’.FullSizeRender-4

FullSizeRender-3

These fabrics were PU coated, but we are now working with a FWR (flame, water and rot-proofed), fabric in which the proofing is in the fibres themselves, so is permanent, and can’t be removed.

Acrylic canvas is expensive, and not for everyone, but weighing up all the odds and external conditions, may be worth the investment, especially for a more upmarket look.

Yurtshire and yurt covers in the making

Our spring cover rush has come to a head this week, when we were called to increase the size of the yurt covers from one of the Yurtshire sites: all three yurts were to be extended from 16’6″ to 17′ diameter. The yurt covers we made were perfect but it turned out the frames were erected too small when the measurements were taken (we make all our covers from measurements so we usually don’t see the frames), and now needed to grow some to allow for all the furniture. We took our Mercedes camper-Worksop truck, loaded with a sewing machine and all the equipment needed to do the job. And drove through the night to Umberslade farm, home of the lunar festival. 20140523-180648-65208032.jpg The three yurts looked so perfect on arrival. Yurt cover before adjustment I was wondering what the owner was thinking, I thought wow what a good job we did, as he was late we thought to ourselves maybe we can just tell him we fixed it when he gets there without doing anything. But being the nice elves we decided to start stretching the yurt covers using some Spirits Intent cover wizardry.making yurt covers on site We were somewhat tired from not having slept properly, although driving through the night brought the nomads in us awake. So by the time the owner arrived with some extra covers from one of the other Yurtshire sites, it was getting very clear it is going to be a very long day. We had to get one of the yurts changed while the holiday makers were still using it. So that was the main challenge for lunchtime, they agreed to give us an hour to do so, with some extremely fast roof cover magic we got that done, and when they came back they said they did not even notice the difference (don’t know if we should see it as a compliment). Yurtshire yurt cover It was now mid afternoon and we still had to open two yurt roofs, and extend the walls of both, the weather forcast was for heavy rain in the night, so leaving the yurts roofless was no option. We were sewing for all we were worth, and so when our friend Henry Dowell (fellow yurt maker) came to collect his 32ft cover, we were in stitches, not sure if it’s because we were so devastatingly tired, or that the jokes were actually funny. It was 21-00 pm and we realised we just did a 5 to 9 work day. Totally exhausted we went home into the truck to sleep, the last joke for the night was “it was a really hard day’s work (understatement) just to stretch those yurt covers a few cm”. It was near death by yurt making, we thought it was funny anyhow. In the middle of the night the rain came quite hard.. overland truck and yurt covers making …so at 4 am one of us (not saying who) went out to put the chimney through the star cap. I guess we earned our breakfast. yurtshire yurt covers complete And so on departure the three yurts looked lovely (but not very much unlike when we arrived). Tom Sterne (the owner) was fun to work with, and we both agreed the yurts did look better, it was amazing how much difference that extra space did.

The Busy Bees of Tent Making

It’s that time, once again, when the people wake up from their winter hibernation, look at the daffodils and say, “Crikey it’s spring – better get moving”.

For Spirits Intent, and our now sister, Wild Canvas, this means making yurts, tipis, Bushcraft tents and custom covers ready for the season. Much of our work is the sewing side of things, and many have already designed their campsites over the winter, but there’s always a few calls that go : “Hi, just dug my 2 yurt canvases out of the barn, and realise that they have holes in them, and it may rain this year, so we probably need new ones. I know it’s a bit late but is there any chance you can get them done by the end of the week?”

We like challenges and somehow it all happens.

The next delivery of canvas

The next delivery of canvas

Yurt Felt
Yurt Felt

 

Swimming in the P V sea...big camp roof cover for Wild Wise

Swimming in the P V sea. Camp cover for Wild Wise

Sand and Khaki Canvas Mountain

Sand and Khaki Canvas Mountain

 

Yurt Canvas and Felt linings for Henry Dowell (www.yurtmaker.co.uk)

Yurt Canvas and Felt Peak going to  Henry Dowell

 

2 more of those Wild Canvas Baker Tents - ready for the wilds

2 more of those Wild Canvas Baker Tents – ready for the wilds

Canvas covers | Spirits Intent

Tag Archives: Canvas covers

Canvas Troubleshooting

 

If you have canvas tents or are thinking of getting some, you need to know something about canvas care as well as looking after tents in general. Some site owners avoid tents because of the maintenance – one should remember that they are tents after all and you can’t just put them up and not think about them when the Weather Gods are playing or let them sit unheated through the winter. If you want something with lower maintenance, best go for something more solid like a hut but personally, I think the romance, beauty and simplicity of nomadic tents, such as tipis and yurts, is well worth the effort.

tipi drip strip

Looking up in a tipi

So canvas…first I would advise you NOT go for cheap canvas however tempting it seems. A lot of the imported Mongolian yurts are made from a heavy canvas which is made for the dry climate of Mongolia but doesn’t adapt well to damp European climates and the canvas will quickly leak. Our main work is making yurt covers, and have re-covered many a Mongolian yurt barely in its infancy.

spirits intent

Sewing yurt covers

The usual canvas used in the UK is 12oz FWR (flame, water and rot-proofed) poly/cotton, Before 2007 it was cotton that was more popular, but the rot-proofing agent used in the proofing was banned, so a new one was used which was actually water-soluble! It meant that there was a batch of bad canvas around that time and we heard horror stories of canvas rotting after a year. Although a new rot-proofing agent was developed, the industry had moved into poly/cotton as it is more rot-resistant and stronger, with 50% polyester content it’s really a game changer.

It’s hard to say how long canvas lasts as it depends on many factors, so we don’t offer any guarantee on its life, but if looked after, one can expect 5-7 years for a tent left up all year. One consideration in pitching your tents is the choice of location. If pitched under trees, the canvas gets dirty from falling leaves and the run-off from tree sap and this can contribute to it perishing. Trees to be extra careful of are pine and willow. Also, obviously, if pitched in the shade the canvas doesn’t dry out so quickly and generally in the UK, the damp is more damaging than UV (although this summer has challenged that trend!) In hotter climates, such as Southern Europe the UV exposure continent, damages the cotton element of the canvas so it is worth thinking about alternatives to poly/cotton (see below about acrylic canvas).

Our Yurt and tipi garden in Israel

Next …general maintenance… we recommend reproofing the canvas once a year which can greatly increase its longevity. Before reproofing one should clean the canvas with a soft brush and warm water, no soap, no scrubbing, no pressure washing, but as long as you reproof the canvas well it should be OK. Remember that any cleaning will remove some of the proofing. (Obviously, white canvas shows the dirt and mould more than other colours, so many of our customers, when replacing yurt covers are choosing to replace white covers with darker colours, such as sand).

Reproofing is usually done with a paint-on solution when the tent goes up for the season – various products are available, but mostly only contain waterproofing and rotproofing agents. Recently the FWR proofing solution used by the manufacturers themselves has become available. (We can supply this at manufacturers cost). We have heard stories of tent covers being sent to professional cleaners, who have little experience of canvas and come back unproofed and sometimes perished although there are now companies who can clean and reproof for you.

Another consideration in canvas care is if the tents are left standing through the winter, they should be heated at least every few days, usually with a wood-burning stove (or open fire in a tipi) and, if the tents are not being used, they should be taken down when the canvas is bone dry and packed somewhere dry and rodent free. The summer before last we had a mice invasion on our site in Italy and we were surprised to discover that the mice chose to eat through the proofed canvas of the yurts rather than the wool blankets and mattresses inside. No accounting for taste. (Troubleshooting rodents and creepy-crawlies is for another chapter).

More yurt covers

There is a common perception that cottons are more ‘natural’ than synthetic fabrics, but people forget that they are proofed with chemicals. Our customers are choosing to go for acrylic fabrics as an alternative to poly/cotton as, although much more expensive, it is a better investment longterm, it greatly outlasts the poly/cotton as it doesn’t rot and it’s also stronger. The acrylic proofing isn’t in a coating but in the thread itself, thus doesn’t need reproofing the same way. It is a woven fabric so looks almost identical to the poly/cotton, yet feels nicer to touch and stays clean and new looking for much longer.

Acrylic canvas wedding pavillion

We are Spirits Intent, expert makers of nomadic tents and specialists in the canvas side of things, call on us if you need any advice on canvas or need new covers for your structures.

Acrylic Canvas

Yes, to most tent people, the idea of acrylic canvas, sounds strange and unnatural, on these beautiful, traditional nomadic structures. But, the truth is, of course, that to make cotton and polycotton able to withstand the elements in a European climate, various chemical products need to be applied. Don’t worry, all have passed safety tests.

If you have lived in or worked with canvas, you are well aware of the black spot mould which appears and the inevitable deterioration of the fabric. We recommend, every year, to clean the canvas with a soft brush and mild detergent and then to reproof the canvas with a reproofing solution (we can supply a paint-on FWR (flame, water and rot-proofed) solution). Acrylic canvas, however, doesn’t rot.

8 years ago we made this yurt cover for Tithe Farm B&B in Lincolnshire, England. They chose to have acrylic canvas, rather than the usual cotton canvas we were working with at that time, for longevity.

After standing outside for 8 years in Britain (to quote Biff Vernon, the yurt owner): “The fabric is still completely waterproof. The only problem we had was that where the six ropes that hold the top star down rub on the canvas at the roof/wall angle little holes have been worn. We stuck patches on with fabric glue to reinforce these and wrapped the ropes in a fabric sleeve to reduce the pressure. That might be less of a problem with curved roof poles but ours are straight so there’s quite a sharp angle”. (This issue can be prevented by threading a small piece of clear plastic hosepipe onto the star ropes, to sit on this shoulder of the roof rafter).

(Guess which is new and which is 8 years later).

image2-3

A more natural fabric like cotton or even polycotton would have well perished long ago in these conditions. The synthetic fabrics are woven and look very much the polycotton, only hang a bit more stiffly.

And here is the lovely little wedding pavilion at Cornish Tipi Holidays which we made 7 years ago, which we have heard, is still fine, only a bit ‘not perfect and wedding’.FullSizeRender-4

FullSizeRender-3

These fabrics were PU coated, but we are now working with a FWR (flame, water and rot-proofed), fabric in which the proofing is in the fibres themselves, so is permanent, and can’t be removed.

Acrylic canvas is expensive, and not for everyone, but weighing up all the odds and external conditions, may be worth the investment, especially for a more upmarket look.

Yurtshire and yurt covers in the making

Our spring cover rush has come to a head this week, when we were called to increase the size of the yurt covers from one of the Yurtshire sites: all three yurts were to be extended from 16’6″ to 17′ diameter. The yurt covers we made were perfect but it turned out the frames were erected too small when the measurements were taken (we make all our covers from measurements so we usually don’t see the frames), and now needed to grow some to allow for all the furniture. We took our Mercedes camper-Worksop truck, loaded with a sewing machine and all the equipment needed to do the job. And drove through the night to Umberslade farm, home of the lunar festival. 20140523-180648-65208032.jpg The three yurts looked so perfect on arrival. Yurt cover before adjustment I was wondering what the owner was thinking, I thought wow what a good job we did, as he was late we thought to ourselves maybe we can just tell him we fixed it when he gets there without doing anything. But being the nice elves we decided to start stretching the yurt covers using some Spirits Intent cover wizardry.making yurt covers on site We were somewhat tired from not having slept properly, although driving through the night brought the nomads in us awake. So by the time the owner arrived with some extra covers from one of the other Yurtshire sites, it was getting very clear it is going to be a very long day. We had to get one of the yurts changed while the holiday makers were still using it. So that was the main challenge for lunchtime, they agreed to give us an hour to do so, with some extremely fast roof cover magic we got that done, and when they came back they said they did not even notice the difference (don’t know if we should see it as a compliment). Yurtshire yurt cover It was now mid afternoon and we still had to open two yurt roofs, and extend the walls of both, the weather forcast was for heavy rain in the night, so leaving the yurts roofless was no option. We were sewing for all we were worth, and so when our friend Henry Dowell (fellow yurt maker) came to collect his 32ft cover, we were in stitches, not sure if it’s because we were so devastatingly tired, or that the jokes were actually funny. It was 21-00 pm and we realised we just did a 5 to 9 work day. Totally exhausted we went home into the truck to sleep, the last joke for the night was “it was a really hard day’s work (understatement) just to stretch those yurt covers a few cm”. It was near death by yurt making, we thought it was funny anyhow. In the middle of the night the rain came quite hard.. overland truck and yurt covers making …so at 4 am one of us (not saying who) went out to put the chimney through the star cap. I guess we earned our breakfast. yurtshire yurt covers complete And so on departure the three yurts looked lovely (but not very much unlike when we arrived). Tom Sterne (the owner) was fun to work with, and we both agreed the yurts did look better, it was amazing how much difference that extra space did.

The Busy Bees of Tent Making

It’s that time, once again, when the people wake up from their winter hibernation, look at the daffodils and say, “Crikey it’s spring – better get moving”.

For Spirits Intent, and our now sister, Wild Canvas, this means making yurts, tipis, Bushcraft tents and custom covers ready for the season. Much of our work is the sewing side of things, and many have already designed their campsites over the winter, but there’s always a few calls that go : “Hi, just dug my 2 yurt canvases out of the barn, and realise that they have holes in them, and it may rain this year, so we probably need new ones. I know it’s a bit late but is there any chance you can get them done by the end of the week?”

We like challenges and somehow it all happens.

The next delivery of canvas

The next delivery of canvas

Yurt Felt
Yurt Felt

 

Swimming in the P V sea...big camp roof cover for Wild Wise

Swimming in the P V sea. Camp cover for Wild Wise

Sand and Khaki Canvas Mountain

Sand and Khaki Canvas Mountain

 

Yurt Canvas and Felt linings for Henry Dowell (www.yurtmaker.co.uk)

Yurt Canvas and Felt Peak going to  Henry Dowell

 

2 more of those Wild Canvas Baker Tents - ready for the wilds

2 more of those Wild Canvas Baker Tents – ready for the wilds