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Step 1: Materials
You will need:
Fabric – I prefer muslin – cheap, plain, and easy, in any size (smaller is best for your first time)
Glue – plain old white school glue in the bottle
Tin foil and a book – I covered a large book in tin foil for my work surface
Dye – I used regular old Rit – once again, easy and cheap – in as many colors as you like
Empty water bottles – Yay recycling! I used them to store my dye
Funnel – To get the dye in the bottles
Pot & Kettle – to boil water and mix the dye (you could substitute a glass or metal container for the pot – an empty coffee can would work well)
Toothbrush – for washing out the glue
*Please note that anything coming into contact with the dye should be something you don’t care about!
Step 2: Prepare Your Fabric
Since this fabric was just going to be a wall hanging, I didn’t bother with pretreating or anything. Wash and dry the fabric (with the laundry or by hand in the sink, whatever is easier). If your fabric is excessively wrinkled, I also suggest you iron it beforehand.
Step 3: Add Your Design
Lay your fabric on your book covered in foil. If you want to get it extra flat, you could tape the edges of the fabric down (although that would prevent the taped area from getting dyed, but might give you a nice border). Draw your design in glue using the glue straight from the bottle. Do not worry about the amount, you don’t need to overdose on glue. Just know that whatever parts you glue will retain the original color of the fabric. When finished, let your design dry completely. If you have kids or pets, make sure it’s out of reach.
Step 4: Making Dye
Whilst your glue is drying, you can make your dye. I used Rit, which is a hot dye. There are cold dyes out there, but they can be expensive and not always easy to find. Heat water until it comes to a boil. Transfer boiling water to the pot or whatever you will mix your dye in. Pour in the packet of dye. I eyeballed everything I did, but you should probably follow the package directions. You will want to make your dye nice and dark because 1) we are not soaking the fabric in it and 2) it will become lighter once it’s washed at the end. Let the dye cool and then use the funnel to transfer it to your empty bottle(s). You may make as many colors as you like for your batik; to keep it simple, I used two.
Step 5: Painting the Dye
Once your dye is cooled and your glue is dry, use your paintbrush to paint on your first color of dye. Paint just like you would if you were painting on paper with regular paint. My only suggestion is that your lines will be easier to see if you paint the same color over your lines, instead of painting one color on each side of a glue line. Let your dye dry at least a little before you put on your next color…
Step 6: More Dye!
Now paint on your second dye color. If you choose, continue these steps with as many colors as you like. As I mentioned before, I only did two because I was working with children. Make sure you wash your paintbrush thouroghly between colors and when you are finished.
Step 7: Washing
Once you are finished all your dying, you will need to wash out your glue and excess dye. This can be done in the sink. Use hot/warm water and an old toothbrush to get all of the glue out. If you can’t get every little bit of glue, that’s fine. I used a very small bit of dish soap at one point when I had trouble, and it didn’t seem to affect the dye (at least too much). Once you’re finished, all you have to do is let your fabric dry!
Step 8: Go Further…
If you want to do more difficult designs, add to your glue design after your first color of dye dries. Let the glue dry and then dye again. Repeat as many times as you like. The areas that you glued will remain the color dyed underneath. In this way, you can create lines and designs in each color. If you choose to do this, you may want to plan your dye colors in an order that will complement each other, i.e. not putting red dye over green, which will combine to make a brownish-gray color. You will also not want to use more than 3 different colors, because I have noticed that it tends to muddle some of the colors. Good luck!