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Sunday, June 24, 2012


Last week was quite the adventure to say the least. On Monday we celebrated International Fest with the kids and decided to find an African craft. We chose to try doing Batik. This is a wax-resist dyeing technique. Similar to tie-dye, a favorite of our family. I think that's why we were excited about this project.

Our first attempt was done the traditional way with wax, lots of wax. So much wax, in fact, we didn't know what to do with it.

We slaved in the sun working on our project for several hours, delicately handing the wax being very careful not to burn ourselves. I thought the effect was beautiful! We were left with a one of a kind, burgundy sheet, a.k.a. our new tablecloth for picnics.

After the wax was applied, and the dye had soaked in and dried, it was time to remove the cans of wax. We literally filled two 10 oz. cans with wax that we painted on. This was no picnic. I tried EVERYTHING (iron, boiling water, etc.) to get the wax out of the tablecloth. I worked on it for two days! In the end we were left with a straight burgundy sheet with a thin coat of wax completely covering it. With great emotional difficulty, this "tablecloth" went into the trashcan.

Phase two... the next couple of days we tried again with a different technique. I'm not about to believe that I can't do something. I was determined to complete a work of art we could use on our picnics.

This time wax NEVER entered the equation. We used a glue paste, a more kid friendly, and Amanda friendly application process. I saw the suggestion of using blue gel glue, but found that to be too expensive for the area we wanted to work with. It's about $3 a bottle, and I'm fairly certain I would have needed at least 3 bottles.

batik recipe

The glue paste was made with a ratio of 1:1 of water and flour. I ended up using 1 ½ cup of water to 1 ½ cup of flour. Next time I will probably use the suggested 2 tsp. of Alum. I didn't have any on hand, and wasn't up for a trip to the grocery store. Alum is supposed to make the mixture more resistant to the paint.

To make it easier to apply, I put it in an empty ketchup bottle I had purchased at Wal-Mart. It came in a set of two for $2. I think in the end, it was actually more difficult for their kid hands. A paint brush would have done the trick nicely.

We worked on our project outside. I didn't want a big mess to clean up. Under our sheet, I put a $1 plastic tablecloth. After we applied all our art, I let the glue paste dry for the rest of that day, and even overnight. The glue seems to dry to the touch very quickly, but it also cracked and easily peeled off the sheet. The parts I left alone and didn't touch overnight didn't peel off as much the next day. I think the key is NOT touching it. I also believe the alum might have helped for this. (I don't know that for a fact though since I've never used it.)

I really wanted to keep it simple and use Rit dye, however since the glue comes off with water, it would have defeated the entire purpose. We watered down acrylic paint, and very carefully painted our cloth. The ratio for that was ¼ cup of water to 1 tablespoon of paint. I was worried the sheet was going to come out really crisp, but it feels exactly as it should. The colors of the paint aren't as crisp and bright since we watered it down, but I think they are still very beautiful.

Next time, I might try doing two sheets at once. Instead of using a cheap plastic table cloth, I might put another sheet to soak up the paint. I loved how it looked. The way the watered down paint had soaked into the under cloth was simply beautiful to me. You can get two different finished products for the time of one!

Here's a few of our finished squares.

I really liked how the finished product turned out. Next time I might try on a smaller scale using the gel glue to see if I get brighter white lines. I do still really like the look that we achieved even if you can't clearly see the design. It's much more subtle, but very artistic. I think the kids were really proud of the different designs we came up with.

homemade batik
Together it made a one-of-a-kind work of art!

1 comment:

  1. That looks cool. I still have a lot of stuff that I bought from Africa. Pinning for you!



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