The first and most important ingredient in a floorcloth is, of course, the canvas. I start with a #8, 100% pure cotton heavyweight duck canvas (18oz) made specifically for floorcloth applications. This gives each cloth its superior strength to hold up to heavy traffic and to lay flat.
Just as traditional methods of the early 17th century, each cloth is stretched & secured around a wood frame (see fig. 1); allowing the cloth to tighten as it shrinks with the application of numerous coats of paint. The canvas is primed twice on both sides, followed by two build coats on each side. At this stage, each cloth has eight coats and the top side is sanded smooth. Two coats of the base color are then applied to the top side. Next, each cloth is removed from its wood frame in order to be measured for size and squareness. This crucial step has remained the same ever since the early floorcloths were constructed. Then, I clean cut the edges flat and stiffen with paint (see fig. 2) .
Unlike many other floorcloth artists, I neither hem nor turn under the edges and stiffen with glue. Therefore as the cloth wears, it will do so evenly and you will never have a double edge impression. Depending on the design, various painting techniques will be applied. These techniques can range from sponging, glazing, marbling and stenciling to freehand painting.
I insist on the best & therefore use water-based, non-toxic, superior quality, exterior Benjamin Moore 100% acrylic paints on all my floorcloths. Upon completion of the design each cloth then receives three to four topcoats of a non-yellowing, polyurethane. This gives the floorcloth maximum scuff and scratch resistance. A finished floorcloth has 10 - 16 layers of paint at completion. This ensures that each painting has the ultimate protection for high traffic areas & can stand up to years of abuse, as well as children and pets.
The final application is that of a high quality clear paste wax (I use Butcher's Bowling Alley Wax) which gives each finished cloth a beautiful, even sheen & makes the cloth easier to clean. Since every cloth is hand painted, no two are ever the same. Each cloth is signed and dated on the back for authenticity.