Batik is a traditional method for dyeing cloth that is used in Indonesia, Africa and other areas around the world. The process involves applying designs in hot wax to the fabric, then dyeing the cloth and removing the wax to show the white areas underneath the wax.
Our method, however, involves a child-friendly way to achieve the look of batik without the hazards of hot wax and potentially toxic fabric dyes.
• Piece of muslin or other light-colored fabric
• White school glue plus a plastic cup or other container to hold the glue
• Small paintbrush
• Permanent colored markers, such as Sharpies
• Paper and pencil
• Plastic mat, waxed paper or other table covering that is impervious to liquid
• Paper towels
• Iron and ironing board
Decide on the size you wish the finished piece of fabric to be. Be sure you cut the fabric at least two inches larger in each dimension to allow for a seam, hem or other edge treatment.
Step 1 Now you can use the paper and pencil to work out your design. Simple, large shapes are best, whether abstract triangles, spirals and squares or motifs from nature. Darken the lines of your finished design with either pencil or marker.
Tape the design to the back of the fabric so the design shows through the fabric, and place on top of the plastic covered work surface. Pour some of the glue into the container. Use the paintbrush to apply lines of glue to the fabric, tracing the design that shows through the cloth. Don't worry if the lines are not precise, as this will simply add to the authentic look of the finished piece.
Step 2 The piece will need to dry for several hours or overnight. When the glue is completely dry and stiff, it is time to apply the color. Keep the paper design taped to the back of the cloth, so you can see where you wish to add color. This part is easy; simply color the fabric with the permanent markers as you would color a page from a coloring book. Color right over the glue lines.
Step 3 Wait about an hour for the color to set in the cloth. Because the glue is washable, you will be able to rinse it off in lukewarm water. It's exciting to see the white lines show up against the background of your colorful piece! Some of the color may bleed out of the cloth, but it will remain quite brilliant.
To finish off the batik piece, let it dry slightly, then iron it while still damp, using layers of paper towel to protect your ironing board and iron. The hot iron will not only dry it more quickly, it will help to set the color in the cloth. (Hint: When washing the piece in future, hand wash in cold water rather than in the washing machine.)
I finished my piece by simply using pinking shears to cut around all four sides. I may use it as an applique to decorate a placemat or table runner. You, I am sure, will find a wonderful use for your completed batik work of art!