This summer at kids camp, I led a kids-friendly version of batik-making in crafts. I came home and decided to turn the kid craft into an adult art project. Since I will have a blank canvas in a little dormitory-style room in Germany, I decided to make something pack-able to personalize my space. This is an easy project, but time consuming!

I bought a 45″ x 45″ piece of muslin from Hobby Lobby. Also crucial to the project is Elmer’s blue gel glue. And acrylic paint. I chose to copy a design from a real-legitimate-artist’s batik using dye on silk that I found on Etsy for $850. It is smaller than my batik, but very similar in design… so I’m not claiming originality in this art project at all. Take a look at this artist’s gorgeous work.
First, looking closely at my model, I penciled the design lightly on the fabric, using a good eraser gently when needed. Then I ironed the fabric to get out the wrinkles before tracing over the pencil drawing with the blue glue. Important key to success that I learned this summer is to use the glue very sparingly, dragging the tip of the bottle across the fabric in a slow, even bead. Also, everywhere there is glue will eventually be a white line. The glue should dry completely before painting. Here is the penciled and glued design:

Next, I lined my painting surface with garbage bags and spread the fabric on top before painting with really watered down acrylic paint. It should have a water color effect. I mixed colors on a palate but added water to my brush before just about every stroke on the fabric. The colors get all runny and pretty! I think of it like a coloring book – just filling in the design. You can paint over the glue lines. Here are two pictures of the painting, in progress, then completed:

Once I finished painting, I let the fabric dry completely. The painting took an afternoon, evening, and morning, and I left it to dry for about 8 hours. Once it was dry, I filled the bath tub with hot water – hotter than my hands can stand – and soaked the batik completely. It needs at least 15 minutes, and the sink does fine for a smaller project. I left mine in the bath for about 30 minutes while I watched the tail end of Groundhog Day on TV. Great movie. Then I went back to the tub and, in sections, scraped off the glue with my fingernails. It comes off easily, but without some thorough scratching, you have slimy glue left on the fabric. Once I was satisfied that all the glue was off (and the paint that covered the glue sort of floated to the surface), I let out the bath water and ran fresh water directly on the fabric while brushing off any excess bits of glue or paint that clung to the fabric. Then I hung the dripping wet batik to dry on the shower rod. See below:

The finished product is just a bit faded from the pre-soaked version. The colors soften some with soaking – but not as dramatically as these pictures look in comparison to the painted ones above. Different lighting for the pictures. Here is the little village by the water, ready to hang on the wall:

I might get some kind of ribbon tape stuff to create a finished edge… or I might not. I need a certain sewing cousin’s advice. We’ll see. I plan to hang it with thumb tacks, but that could change once I see my walls in Munich. 

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5 thoughts on “batik

  1. mere… oh my goodness, this is amazing! i loved reading your last couple of posts tonight, and hope to talk with you really soon! love you, your big heart, and your beautiful work.


  2. Meredith that is absolutely stunning! You're certain sewing cousin says you will probably want to finish the edge in some fashion, otherwise you will deal with raveling. A little raveling might be fine but it might start to affect your artwork over time. I think a ribbon edge would be lovely!


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