Tincloth, Tin cloth, Oilskin

Royal-Navy-wearing-oil-skins
1914-1918, UK woman wearing oilskin
1914-1918, UK woman wearing oilskin

Linseed for waterproof fabrics

Linseed oil has a long history in making waterproof fabrics often including tincloth and oil-skin.  Tincloth is a extra hard-wearing close woven fabric coated with a blend of linseed oil and beeswax. It is extremely waterproof and hard and was worn by miners of the Alaskan gold rush. More recently oilcloth was extensively used for weather resistant, waterproof clothing in WW1 and WW2.

Tincloth recipe:

Tincloth is made by mixing equal parts boiled linseed oil (you can use a raw oil but it will take longer to dry) and beeswax, heating it gently until it melts and combines. You can add a little turpentine to make it thinner and easier to apply. It is then used to coat the canvas by painting it on or dipping it, then the fabric is hung up to dry, preferably with direct sunlight.

Linsey woolsey, lincey or linsey

Flax drying for linen fibre

Linen warp and woollen weft threads

Linsey-woolsey (also called linsey and lincey) is a fabric made with linen warp and woolen weft threads. It was made between 16th to 19th centuries in England and America.  The wool gave the warmth to the fabric. It was popular with the poor. Primarily it was used for clothing including women’s dresses, various undergarments and bed hangings.

Bible forbids Wool and linen mix

Interestingly the Bible forbids this sort of fabric. Deuteronomy 22, Sundry laws, 11: “You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together.”

The origins and history of linseed and flax

Field of linseed towards gate

The origins of the linseed and flax

Field of linseed in flower
Field of linseed in flower

Linum usitatissimum is just one species of the Linum family. Some are annuals others perennial.  The original ancestor of our domesticated flax and linseed  Linum biienne, was a little wild plant widely spread across Eurasia. It had delicate wiry stems and dainty blue flowers. Way back in history our ancestors  would have found linseed amazingly useful Continue reading

New Zealand Flax

New Zealand Flax, Phormium tenax

Phormium tennax:  New Zealand Flax 

Phormium tenax, New Zealand Flax
New Zealand Flax

New Zealand flax is completely unrelated to common flax and linseed. The fibre of it was used by the Maoris for weaving into coarse fabric, ropes, flooring and baskets but doesn’t have the fine quality of linen.

Outside New Zealand Phormium tennax  is grown as a garden plant. It is a perennial plant. The original species is huge growing up to ten feet but there are also many small cultivars and hybrids. Continue reading

Harvesting Linseed and Flax

Flax harst modern 1-600x450

Linseed and flax are grown differently

Both linseed and flax, which are simply different varieties of the same plant, Linum usitatissimum, are traditional crops in the UK but grown for different purposes and the production methods are significantly different Continue reading

How a shirt grew in the field

Book how a shirt of linen grew in the field

Children’s book

by K. D Ushinskiai, adapted by Marguerita Rudolph and illustrated by Yaroslavava

I was introduced to this lovely book by a fellow stall holder at Borough Market; it was his favourite book as a child and he brought it in to show me. I loved it too and recommend it to anyone who reads to their children.

boy in field scan Continue reading

Growmore leaflet, Ministry Fish & Ag, 1945: “Linseed as a Home-Grown Crop”

A field of ripe linseed
Growmore Linseed. WW2 Leaflet from Ministry Fisheries and Agriculture
Growmore Linseed. WW2 Leaflet Ministry Fisheries and Agriculture

‘Growmore’ Leaflet No.13

Published by The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hotel Lindum, St. Annes-on-Sea, Lancashire, 1945

This leaflet was published during World War 2 when growing linseed became important again as a food for cattle that were to produce the meat to feed the nation during wartime shortages. Continue reading

Linseed & flax on cigarette & chocolate cards

Cigarette card: harvesting flax

Flax and linseed traditionally important crops

Lin, linseed or flax from a French chocolate card
Lin, linseed or flax from a French chocolate card

Due to the importance of the linseed and flax as crops they were popular subjects for 20th century chocolate and cigarette cards throughout Europe. The pictures shown are from French chocolate bars and cigarettes.  It reflects importance of linseed and flax as crops in the first half of the century. The flowers of both crops are the same, both were grown from Linum usitatissium but harvested  at different stages of maturity. Continue reading