Chris Blake Chappell has been my studio mate at 108 Bayard Street for the past three years. He's also a great friend and an incredibly talented artist. Chris knows creative quality, so I was humbled and excited when he commissioned me to make him a pair of waxed canvas jeans. Bold and audacious, these jeans are right up his alley - and can never be washed. Not for the faint of heart. Here's Chris, in his own words...
Waxed Canvas Jeans
By Chris Blake Chappell
"Eric and I began these pants as a project in February, 2021. I was interested in a custom pair of work pants made of thick canvas duck. The duck had to be as thick as possible, as I was including a waxing process. Eric had recently obtained a bolt of cloth similar in both color and texture to Carhartt’s famous construction pants, but the warp and weft of this fabric was of exceptional quality.
Eric has been my studio-mate for over three years, and I have noticed his patient dedication to his craft everyday that I work. These pants were to be a unique and never-before-attempted window into a process that, when properly applied, brings untold personality to a garment. So a marriage of cloth and wax was at hand.
Every aspect of my pants’ construction was attended to by Eric, personally. My favorite method of introducing myself to a new tailor is to bring them a garment that fits almost perfectly already, allowing the tailor to apply his knowledge to an existing frame. This is useful if a customer lacks the specific vocabulary necessary to convey their needs.
While I am equipped with modest fashion knowledge, Eric was able to recommend additions in the decorative stitching, he designed a dynamic waved front pocket, and allowed all forms of customizations down to the last brass rivet.
Upon completion, I applied the first coat of wax, created by Otter Wax out of Oregon. This non-paraffin based wax comes in a bar, like soap. With patient persistence I rubbed in the first coat, applying to all seams and used a hair dryer to smooth any chunks around the rivets. Then I put the pants on and never took them off.
It is at this point in my story when you, dear reader, must make the choice for yourself. Waxing a garment is a fun, satisfying way to feel “low key creative”, and can be done with minimal fuss - and in the presence of children. But I must warn you: this is a process that is ongoing. Once you wax your pants, they will have a chalky haze to them. This represents the first layer of “patina” that is to be created.
Now comes the fun/rewarding part. As you keep wearing your pants, particularly in as varied environments as possible, you will notice them begin to trade that chalky haze for splashes of distress. Over a period of three weeks of constant wear, I created the first layer of what was to become three wax layers of “personality”. As the layers are added, each successive one locks in the pattern that came before, like sheets in an ice age. Through twelve weeks of use, I am completely satisfied.
More conservative readers may blanch at the thought of wearing pants for so long that you also must never wash. This can seem antithetical to their modern sensibilities. But I wanted to show a further extension of the ethos that Eric so accurately and authentically lives, that mass production and consumption are still choices that can be resisted, and that people need attenuation to objects of great spiritual value.
Take this journey with Eric and with yourselves, and I’ll see you in the street…"