Introduction: Bare Bones Batik: Light-Up Wall Art

About: I celebrate all things steampunk, metal working, wood working, sewing, and stained glass. I love to learn knew skills and I find joy in teaching those skills to others.

Wax resist batiking is fun and beautiful. I love the look but the process and clean-up take forever! Throughout my quest to streamline this activity I've run across lots of "Do"s and "Don't"s. This light-up wall art is a compilation of things that worked well for me, mainly things that cut down on the aftermath mess.


Step 1: Aquiring Supplies!

●White Fabric- 100% cotton works best. I grabbed a small bolt (about a yard) from a local craft store. This was plenty long enough to wrap around my frame.

●Decide on a Frame- There are no wrong answers here! I went with a standard square wreath frame found in the floral department of my local craft store. Other options I considered were shadow box picture frames and embroidery hoops. Ultimately I went with the wreath frame because I really liked the idea of beveled edges being part of the existing canvass.

●Crayons! This is one of the main ingredients that makes this project easier to clean up. No melted wax to scrape off of table tops! In a test between name-brand and off-brand crayons, name-brand won with smoother application.

●Fabric Dye- I went with powder because its cheaper and in a smaller quantity. A little bit goes a long way.

●Measuring Spoon- 1/4 teaspoon used for measuring dyes. Be forewarned, it will change the color of your spoon. Highly recommend using a cheap garage sale utensil.

●Spray Bottles- This is the other main ingredient for a close-to-mess-free environment. No large vats of dye to fall into! Spray bottles allow more control and can handily be found at the dollar store. I found one in every color of my dye. Super convenient.

●LEDs- Because everything looks awesome with lights! I'm using the Dioder 4-pack of LEDs found at Ikea. It'll run you twenty bucks, but the cords are long enough that I could use two sets of lights in each of my wall hangings thus only needing to buy one.

●Freezer Paper- This will be used to block out spots on our fabric that are in jeopardy of being consumed by another colors. It is also used to diffuse the intensity of the LEDs.

●Other Stuff- Besides a chipper attitude, it is necessary to have an iron (or laundry dryer), a hot glue gun, scissors, a permanent marker, sewing pins, twist ties or zip ties, and a space to spray dye that will not ruin anything. You might want to consider some gloves too, if you're not okay with dyed fingers.

Step 2: Prep!

First off, gotta mix that dye. My spray bottles are 12 ounces. The dye packets are for a couple gallons. I kinda did the math and then just decided to use a 1/4 teaspoon. Worked like a charm! Hot tap water was enough to disolve the powder, so I mixed everything directly into the sprayers. I didn't wear gloves for this step, so now I've got purple fingers. This would be a great place for gloves!
Hokay, now we need fabric and crayons. I cut my fabric to size and chose my color. I went with white because I wanted the dye to pop more than the crayon. You can use whatever color though, so feel free to augment with any or all!

Rolled up fabric will have creases in it, or if you're using stuff that's been hanging out in your fabric stash it's probably a bit wrinkled. An iron with a bit of steam, or a laundry dryer with a wet washcloth in the load (this is how I prefer to iron my cloths!) will usually do the trick!

Now, draw your picture! Special thanks to CrazyClever, who drew hot air balloons for me! Beautifully done!

Last to prep is the freezer paper needed to block off sections of your art that is already one color, that could be taken over with another color. To do this, trace out you're shape (in this case my balloons) with a permanent marker and cut them out.

Step 3: Get to Dying!

Now's the fun part! Spray away! I did my pictures in stripes so I could pull my lower colors up into my balloons. I started with my yellow, striped the bottom and then hit the lower balloon. I then pinned on my freezer paper to retain the yellow underneath. I sprayed my middle orange stripe and doused my top balloon. I pinned on my other cut-out to protect from my red dye. I followed the same progression for my cool colored panel: spray, pin to protect, spray some more.

It's better to start with lighter colors and work up to darker. Also, colors will bleed into eachother, so be mindful of that. I didn't spray my darker colors right up to my freezer paper because I didn't want them to bleed into my balloons.

Finally de-pin and step back to admire your handy work! Let it dry to make sure you are happy with your colors. In my case I thought my green was too light originally so I added a bit more dye to my bottle and sprayed my balloon again at close range so I wouldn't splash too much.

Congratulations! You have made art! Feel free to stop here and hang it on your wall or continue on to the next step to see how I back-lit it.

Step 4: Lights!

This step should really be called Glue All The Things! Because after you attach your LEDs with zip ties or twist ties, all you do is glue. I used freezer paper on the front square directly under where my art will end up to diffuse the light before it hits the fabric. I adhered the fabric directly to the outside frame wire, pulling it taunt, and cut the excess fabric away. I didn't want any extra shadows in my frame so I secured my cords to come out my bottom corner. I then glued freezer paper across the whole back. When I attached my LEDs I made sure they were pointing AWAY from the fabric so they reflected off of the white freezer paper and back towards the art. This also helps diffuse the light. To ensure that I got a good edge on my back paper panel I glued on a square that was slightly larger than needed and opted to fold back my flaps and adhere them flat instead of cutting my edges.

Step 5: TaDa!

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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