Love the look of traditional batik but intimidated by the process? Make your “batik” prints on fabric using a simple glue resist method.
I have a confession to make.
When I was in third grade, I wanted to be an artist.
When I was in seventh grade, I wanted to be a marine biologist (until I discovered I have a weird phobia about sea creatures underwater).
When I was in high school, I wanted to be the creative director of a magazine, just like Sassy Magazine.
When I was in college, I really wanted to be a fabric/textile designer. But it was too late to change my major (I was a design/illustration major), so I let that dream go.
It never died though.
What I love about the creative spirit is it has many facets. I love to do many different artistic things, and I’m a tough one to tie down and put in a category. I just love to be creative.
Oh, and I love to do what I want so, there’s that. Holler.
Back when I was a young warthog, I took a design class where we learned how to batik. What is batik? It’s a textile technique from Indonesia using hot wax as a resist, along with various dyes.
It was really fun, “drawing” with hot wax, dying our fabric squares in buckets of dye in the hallways of the art department. Awww, the artist life.
I envisioned myself living in a commune, long hair don’t care, growing my own food, making clothes for my fellow commune dwellers out of batik. Of course, I would be braless. Wait until my mama hears about me wasting my student loans on hot wax and dye, I thought to myself. Eventually, I realized my dream of being a dirty hippie just wasn’t feasible.
Imagine my excitement when I was cruising the interwebs to find some art project inspiration, and I stumbled upon a few glue resist project that resembles batik. Eeek! I did a batik project for Modern Art 4 Kids a few years ago, but that involved oil pastels and didn’t give it the look I was going for. The glue resist projects looked easy and I already had everything I needed in my supply closet.
What you’ll need:
- Elmer’s Washable Clear School Glue
- craft paint brushes
- Apple Barrel craft paint
- muslin fabric
- wax paper
You can use muslin and cotton or you can do what I did which was find a bunch of old sheet sets that I store in the event of a zombie apocalypse (when I’ll really need a flat and fitted sheet), and cut it up into squares. You can use Elmer’s blue glue gel or the clear gel, it doesn’t matter–just make sure it’s washable.
Depending on the size of your fabric square (don’t limit yourself–you can also do this technique on t-shirts, tote bags, scarves, pillowcases, etc.), take a minute to think about your design. Do you want a pattern like chevron stripes or squares? Do you want an abstract effect? Flowers? Whatever you do, own it!
Make sure you buy some wax paper. Cut a square to fit underneath your fabric square. This will keep your mess to a minimum and it’ll make it easier to move your fabric around.
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The glue flows out pretty smoothly, so kept your hands steady. Don’t glob a bunch of glue on your fabric because it does spread. Too much glue and you won’t be able to maintain the integrity of your design. Do a few different designs–I did. It’s addicting! I took them all outside to dry in the sun.
Once your glue is dry, it will be clear. I let my design dry overnight. Now you can paint it. I used craft paint but you could also use watered-down acrylic paint, watercolors, tempera paint. I just love craft paint because of all the colors you can use.
Brush the paint onto the fabric square, right over the dried glue. You can blend your colors, create patterns, splatter your paint–you make the rules, babe. Once your fabric is fully painted, let it dry. Now you can take your fabric square and rinse the glue off in warm water. You’ll feel the glue parts are a little slimy. Just keep rinsing until all the glue is out of the fabric. You’ll begin to notice the white parts on the fabric that resisted the craft paint.
I’ve discovered that the stronger you want your colors to look, the more you should let your fabric square dry. If you want a more subdued color, rinse your fabric while it’s still damp-you’ll see more of the craft paint rinsing out. A few other things I learned: don’t use black. At the very least, use it sparingly–it just looks moldy.
Once they were rinsed and dried, I was really happy with the results.
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How lovely are these? I ended up cutting each square into fours and adding some freehand designs with Tulip Fabric Markers. They are perfect standing alone or placed inside a frame and used as wall art.