sailoreagle (sailoreagle) wrote in little_details,

Waterproofing cloth

Setting: pretty standard fantasy universe (technology level around medieval / renaissance times). Magic is available, but it's not used in daily tasks and doesn't affect daily life much.

I've got a character who needs to get her hands on some waterproof cloth; she's located in a seaside fishing village.

What I need is information on the methods and effectiveness of making cloth waterproof, and the availability of waterproof cloth.

More in the specific:

Would waterproof cloth be sold at the local market, or would it be something each fisherman makes for himself (and hence something my character would need to buy / steal off an individual fisherman)?

What would be the method used to make this cloth waterproof? I know wax can be used, as well as tar; does what is used make any difference? Which method would be more readily available at her location and for the technology level her world is at?

Would this cloth stain items stashed underneath it / wrapped in it? How about hands that manipulated it? How would it feel to the touch? (Would it leave one's fingers waxy / oily / whatever?)

Would a person be able to take cover from very heavy rain underneath such cloth, or is the waterproof-ness limited?

Pretty extensive Google searching ("waterproof cloth", "waterproofing cloth", with various combinations and synonyms) has made me, if anything, more confused than before; I've also tried Wikipedia and sites on the history of fabric, with no conclusive results.

Thanks in advance for any help!

ETA: got the answers I needed. Thank you very much to everybody who helped!
Tags: europe: history, ~clothing, ~middle ages

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