Wax and Cotton and some new knowledge

I had a conversation today with Fred Gold. Fred used to be in charge of the company that made Waxwear. Now he’s in charge of the company that makes Original Wax. “Only the names have changed.” That’s not literally true, by the way. But it makes the tale much easier to follow.

Fred’s been working with/for the Martin family for over three decades. As I noted in another post, the Martins have been producing waxed cotton for a long, LONG time.

Now in a previous post I said things I’d pulled – things like apparent sales and numbers of people, and things about the waxing. They were pulled from different locations I normally consider reliable, but Fred says they’re wrong. He says the numbers are wrong, though it is a small business. And he says the brew itself is a secret (which I think I noted) so it’s impossible for anyone to know whether it does or does not use a solvent. Fair point.

According to Fred there are only two companies making Waxed Cotton today. Both have been making it for a LONG time (though I have discovered I don’t have the actual start date in the notes of my conversation). The competitor is British Millerain. Fred has no idea whether they use the same process, but he considers them good people doing a fine job. They’re just the competition, and in his opinion the goods Martin makes are better.

If you’re interested in getting waxed cotton for your own tries, Traditional Textiles (aka Fred Gold) is more than interested in helping you. Minimum yardage is 5 yards. If it’s that short there’s probably a cutting fee unless the fabric you’re wanting is the end of an already used roll. He gave me quotes on a couple of weights but noted they have a very wide range of fabrics. (A little over $13 per yard for 8.25, about 65 cents per yard more for 10.10. Both dual ply cotton. The numbers are the number of ounces of cotton in a square yard.)

Oh – I do want to point out that Fred only uses material woven from combed cotton. Not cut. That makes it a much stronger and better quality fabric. The only sad thing is that nobody in the US (at this time) is doing combed, so they have to get the raw weaves from outside the US. Not a point of denigration, mind, just an acknowledgement of sacrifices taken to ensure higher quality.

I really want to make my jackets – at least a couple of prototypes. I might make one or two out of home-made waxed cotton. If I do, it’ll be with the knowledge the money I save comes at the cost of quality. If I go full time, UNLESS my particular wax hits a number of unexpected bonuses I’ll be going with Fred and company. Sorry, with Traditional Textiles’ Original Wax.

And Fred? Thanks for taking the time to talk.

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One thought on “Wax and Cotton and some new knowledge

  1. Great post on Martin/Fairfield/Tradition. I have been doing business with Fred and the Martins for about 6 months now, and they are really great people to work with, especially for small start-up companies like mine (48North) which bases its product line on waxed canvas. Especially since British Millerain requires orders of 1000 yds.

    Fairfield Textile has a new website that replaced the old Waxwear website, and is very good as fabric suppliers go. They are set up to sell, which is good for us small-fry. Their section on ‘history’ states explicitly that they now use NO solvents in their process.

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