Saturday, July 10, 2010

Batik Prayer Flags

Zsa Zsa and Jasper's mom Laura, a master of all kinds of fabric dying, once gave me a lesson in batik. I've long wanted to try it out with children, and after proving to myself that young children can work competently and safely with hot wax, I was particularly motivated.

The part of the process toward which I wasn't looking forward was removing the wax with all those newspapers and a hot iron. I didn't think it would be fun for the children, me or any of our parent-teachers. That's why I was thrilled when Ariella over at Childhood Magic posted a link to That Artist Woman's tutorial on making glue batik.

Although I have tons of regular white glue, That Artist Woman recommends the Elmer's Gel, and as much as I dislike buying any school supplies that I don't get at a bulk discount, I relented on this one because I really wanted to see if we could produce satisfactory batik without wax.

Some of us started by drawing pictures with charcoal (you could use pencil, but I figured if the whole project was a flop, at least they'd have had the experience of using a less common media), but most of us just drew pictures on our fabric with the glue.

We then had to wait a day for it to dry.

The following day, we painted our fabric with acrylic craft paint diluted 50-50 with water.

We then had to wait a day for it to dry.

The following day . . . Well, the following day was as much of a flop as I'd feared wax removal would be. The idea was to soak the paintings in warm water to dissolve and remove the glue. I took a bucket of warm water outside and set myself up with the idea that the kids would help me get the glue out. Not a chance! A couple of them sort of touched the water, but I think it looked too much like work, and frankly, they were right. The glue came out, but not as easily or quickly as I'd expected. At one point I had a "crowd" of 3-4 kids, but they lost interest well before their beautiful batiks were revealed.

If we'd just made a handful of these things, I'd probably have stuck to the tutorial and done it by hand, but since we had several dozen and I saw hours of work ahead of me, I just took them home and tossed them in the washing machine. The intensity of the colors probably suffered a bit, but the glue came right out revealing some beautiful results.

Max wrote his name.

Selby was so proud of this sun painting.

I have my suspicions that this glue pattern was done by 
an adult but the painting is all kid.

The 3-day process was lost on the younger children, but most of the 4 and 5-year-olds, I think, understood what we'd done.

The following week we decided to use them to decorate our garden, employing string and a stapler to turn them into our version of Tibetan prayer flags.

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Restless Prairie Farm said...

The prayer flag is a great idea for the glue batik!! Thank you! I'm going to set that up for our art today.:o)

When I did our summer flag I just tossed it into a bin of hot water and left it for 30 minutes and then when I rinsed it for a few seconds and it was done. Not very interactive, but it worked out good for me.

Teacher Tom said...

@Wendi . . . that was probably my problem: lack of patience! I was sitting there trying to scrub the glue out. Very boring to watch and to do. Thanks for the tip!

Theresa said...

Despite the second stage of the project not being that enjoyable for the kids, they still turned out beautiful! I think i might have to try this with my 5 year old.

momma rae said...

they turned out great! i was going to suggest soaking, too. and i use a brush to scrub with.

this might be might first time commenting (oops!), but just wanted to say that i have been enjoying your blog since i found you through ariella. i used to work at a co-op that wasn't so sustainable so it is nice to know that it CAN be done! i still teach three to six year olds, but have my own waldorf early childhood program now.

have a great weekend!

Lindsey said...

I threw ours in the washing machine when we did them too ;)

We had a couple of goes at this about two years back, and on the second attempt we tried a double dying go, so my three year old painted a picture in paint, then when it was dry I painted the glue over it for her (and handprints for my then two year old) then when the glue was dry they painted all over the sheet more. It came out with some very interesting results! I think it's about time we tried it again though!

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

Beautiful!! We have some yard flags in progress around here as well -- will post later this summer ; )

To reply to your comment about my butterfly mobiles:


If you have a BUNCH of butterflies left over in your classroom I could see the repurposing of a hoola-hoop into a giant mobile with lots and lots of butterflies hanging in your classroom/or over the stage like a chandelier!

(pink and green mama) "

Anna and Ryan said...

Wow, it's crazy how these things are just in the ether. I ordered Elmer's Gel Glue just last week to try this project with our art playgroup. I love the idea of making Tibetan prayer flags.

Juliet Robertson said...

This is a lovely idea. I never thought about using acrylic paint in this way. Another interesting thing is to get children to draw around a template onto cotton material with a black permanent marker pen. Then the inside of the drawing the children can use a wax crayon to colour the material. Do this on both sides of the material.Then dye the material. In theory the waxed areas, surrounded by marker pen don't get dyed and so stick out! No washing needed either.

Play for Life said...

irresistible Tom ... Our idea is a little different but we'll post once we have made them. Probably in a couple of weeks as we are still on break. Thanks for trying it first and ironing out the kinks tho i REALLY appreciate it! hee hee!
Donna :) :)

jenny said...

These look gorgeous Tom, although a little bit concerned that you have been rummaging around in my head again - I just took photos of our prayer flags for an upcoming post! Although ours aren't batik - keen to give this a go.

Ariella said...

I love this Teacher Tom!! So awesome. This would make a great birthday or holiday banner too. Thanks for the inspiration.

Deborah Stewart said...

Gorgeous! I have never tried this.

Unknown said...

They turned out truly beautiful. I LOVE them! Wow.

Samara said...

Thanks for the inspiration!

Gail Bartel said...

Hey Tom, sorry about the process but honestly I always take the batiks home, soak them in my sink for an hour or so and then throw them in the dryer. The kids are only involved in the gluing and painting. That's just how it is. I take them home after painting and the kids get them back the next day so they are still very interested in the results, in fact if they don't get them back the next day they let me hear about it!
Your prayer flags are beautiful and I'm sure now you know what to expect it will go esier next time. Hang in there!

Terri said...

Hi Teacher Tom I just found your blog via Crafty Crow. I think the glue batiks came out wonderfully. My favorite is Selby's sun. Lovely. They would make great pillows or the children can make little animal pictures and then they could be stuffies!!! ; ) I think that is the one I will do with my children.

Chrissy said...

This is a great idea! I think we'll try this in a week or so.

On the colors fading in the wash- after the glue is dry, could you set the colors by drying in the dryer for 20 minutes, then washing?
I've painted fabric with watered down acrylics and dried it in the drier and haven't lost any color- I just don't know how the glue would work...

Thanks for sharing!!

Lynne said...

What sort of fabric did you use?

Teacher Tom said...

Lynne, cotton.