Easy No-wax Batik





Introduction: Easy No-wax Batik

About: I am an elementary school art teacher. Ask me about crafts on a shoestring budget!

This is a batik project using regular old Elmer's glue instead of wax for a batik resist.  I chose glue because I was doing this with young artists who couldn't have handled hot wax and hot dye, so this is perfect for kids or a first timer.  I would suggest doing this outdoors if you can, since this does involve dye, but it's not necessary.

Step 1: Materials

You will need:
Fabric - I prefer muslin - cheap, plain, and easy, in any size (smaller is best for your first time)
Glue - plain old white school glue in the bottle
Tin foil and a book - I covered a large book in tin foil for my work surface
Dye - I used regular old Rit - once again, easy and cheap - in as many colors as you like
Empty water bottles - Yay recycling!  I used them to store my dye
Funnel - To get the dye in the bottles
Pot & Kettle - to boil water and mix the dye (you could substitute a glass or metal container for the pot - an empty coffee can would work well)
Toothbrush - for washing out the glue

*Please note that anything coming into contact with the dye should be something you don't care about!

Step 2: Prepare Your Fabric

Since this fabric was just going to be a wall hanging, I didn't bother with pretreating or anything.  Wash and dry the fabric (with the laundry or by hand in the sink, whatever is easier).  If your fabric is excessively wrinkled, I also suggest you iron it beforehand.

Step 3: Add Your Design

Lay your fabric on your book covered in foil.  If you want to get it extra flat, you could tape the edges of the fabric down (although that would prevent the taped area from getting dyed, but might give you a nice border).  Draw your design in glue using the glue straight from the bottle.  Do not worry about the amount, you don't need to overdose on glue.  Just know that whatever parts you glue will retain the original color of the fabric.  When finished, let your design dry completely.  If you have kids or pets, make sure it's out of reach.

Step 4: Making Dye

Whilst your glue is drying, you can make your dye.  I used Rit, which is a hot dye.  There are cold dyes out there, but they can be expensive and not always easy to find.  Heat water until it comes to a boil.  Transfer boiling water to the pot or whatever you will mix your dye in.  Pour in the packet of dye.  I eyeballed everything I did, but you should probably follow the package directions.  You will want to make your dye nice and dark because 1) we are not soaking the fabric in it and 2) it will become lighter once it's washed at the end.  Let the dye cool and then use the funnel to transfer it to your empty bottle(s).  You may make as many colors as you like for your batik; to keep it simple, I used two.

Step 5: Painting the Dye

Once your dye is cooled and your glue is dry, use your paintbrush to paint on your first color of dye.  Paint just like you would if you were painting on paper with regular paint.  My only suggestion is that your lines will be easier to see if you paint the same color over your lines, instead of painting one color on each side of a glue line.  Let your dye dry at least a little before you put on your next color...

Step 6: More Dye!

Now paint on your second dye color.  If you choose, continue these steps with as many colors as you like.  As I mentioned before, I only did two because I was working with children.  Make sure you wash your paintbrush thouroghly between colors and when you are finished.

Step 7: Washing

Once you are finished all your dying, you will need to wash out your glue and excess dye.  This can be done in the sink.  Use hot/warm water and an old toothbrush to get all of the glue out.  If you can't get every little bit of glue, that's fine.  I used a very small bit of dish soap at one point when I had trouble, and it didn't seem to affect the dye (at least too much).  Once you're finished, all you have to do is let your fabric dry!

Step 8: Go Further...

If you want to do more difficult designs, add to your glue design after your first color of dye dries.  Let the glue dry and then dye again.  Repeat as many times as you like.  The areas that you glued will remain the color dyed underneath.  In this way, you can create lines and designs in each color.  If you choose to do this, you may want to plan your dye colors in an order that will complement each other, i.e. not putting red dye over green, which will combine to make a brownish-gray color.  You will also not want to use more than 3 different colors, because I have noticed that it tends to muddle some of the colors.  Good luck!



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13 Discussions

I also loved it when we did a group tablecloth personalized "placemats" this way - when done - a simple clear plastic on top and
Miracle of Miracles no arguments over who sat where!!!!

We did batik tie dye. And used a flour+salt+ glue mix in tiny hole squirt bottle to distribute.design in chalk or pencil first. Then put mixture on design, let dry 24-48 hours. Wrinkle it up a bit. Then dip in different colors with and without rubber band let dry another 24 to 48 crumble off dried mixture spray with vinegar let dry then wash,... the kids loved it great for hours of rainy day activity. My kids wished for rain!!!

2 replies

It was fun, but have always loved arts and crafts! Anything requiring:
set up
Doing project
then clean up
- if we were ever going to be allowed to do it again = meant time staying out of trouble!
The fun was a bonus!!!!

Thank you for this really helpful idea! I've tried this using a tie-dye kit for the cold water dye and pva glue. The glue washed out in the machine and the whole thing looks fabulous. Looking forward to trying this with my class of 31 year 5s!

1 reply

Fantastic! And thirty one 5s! Aren't you brave!

hi thanks for the easy way of doing batik........I really liked it and I want to try it on my curtains bt they are not pure cotton.....would that be a problem.....pls advice.....

2 replies

As long as they have a large percentage of cotton in them, I would imagine it would work, although without knowing what the rest of the fabric is, I can't be sure. Does it say? If it's possible, your best bet may be to get a small piece of similar/same fabric to do a test run on. Doing that would help you out as well because it's always a good idea to try something before doing the 'good' version. I love the idea of creating batiked curtains, by the way!

Thanks swampy591.........for ur kind suggestions and secondly for appreciating my idea do batik curtains!

I have yet to get to this amazing idea...I have NOT forgotten this! and I WILL let you know....Thanks Again!

1 reply

No problem! I have also since used liquid startch instead of wax/glue, and found that it works even better because it washes out easier than the glue. I have also used watered down acrylic paint in lieu of dye, and although it works well, I wouldn't suggest it for anything you plan on wearing.
It's always better to use what's available than buy something new :) Good luck!

This is a great idea....simple with awesome results Thanks for the instructables! I have a sheet set that is calling this ideas name!

1 reply