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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Paste Batik Letters Flag

kids craft Paste Batik Letters Flag

Those gorgeous batik prints are hard to ignore every time I walk by them at the fabric store. I wanted to make something like that with my 5¾ year old.

Initially I was toying with wax-resist like I've done before. Rather than wax, I wanted something that can be made easily at home. (Washable) Glue batik seems popular for kids activity as it can be just washed off. But, rather than buying bottles and bottles of glue as for this project I had in mind, I settled on Paste Batik technique. (The Matchbook has a basic photo tutorial.)

As Edward Teller noted, "No endeavor that is worthwhile is simple in prospect; if it is right, it will be simple in retrospect."

Not that this was such a great endeavor for me, but, it sure must've seemed like it to Ana: Making a Happy Birthday flag which we can put up at home for birthdays!

Fortunately, thanks to her teacher, Ana and her friends had worked on this technique a couple of years ago when they made a lovely flag for the school's annual Spring Auction. So, she knew what to expect and was excited about it.

Items Used: Plain white muslin cloth, scissors, all purpose flour, water, acrylic paints in various colors, paint brush, mustard/ketchup dispenser, iron

  1. We noted how many letters there were in "Happy Birthday" (13), and cut out as many plain white muslin cloth into about 9½ x 9½ inch squares - I used a 9½ x 9½ inch quilt square I had, but, any size would be fine. (We cut out a few extras to a total of 16 squares). I wanted the unbleached muslin, but, Ana chose the bleached white ones. Which is fine.

  2. We made the paste: 1 cup (plus a few tablespoons) of all purpose or wheat flour plus 1 cup water. That's it. Add the water a little at a time, stirring constantly to remove lumps. The paste has the consistency of a slightly thick-ish crepe batter. Pour it into either an old mustard/ketchup dispenser or icing tube for easy dispensing. (This mustard dispenser is a favorite much-used tool for various activities at home, including making Roti Jala)

    kids craft paste batik home-made happy birthday flag

  3. Squirt/squeeze the mustard bottle to make patterns as needed on the fabric. We wrote one letter per square piece of fabric to make up "Happy Birthday", and added some squiggles and swirls and dots for decoration.

  4. Allow the paste to dry completely. We left it overnight by the heating vent, and hung it up on a clothesline indoors all day, for a total of 24 hours.

  5. Working with one square piece at a time, scrunch the fabric a bit to crack up the dried paste. These cracks are where the colors can sneak in and create that beautiful batik print. Then, paint any combination of favorite colors using acrylic paint. Dilute the paint with a drop or two of water to help it flow smoothly. Paint all over the fabric, on top of the dried paste, as the paint will be resisted (masked off) by the paste anyway. 

  6. Allow the painted squares to dry completely. Again, we left it by the heating vent overnight and hung it up for drying off all next day.

    kids craft paste batik home-made happy birthday flag

  7. Scrunch the now colorful fabric squares to loosen and lift off the dried paste. And start picking and peeling it off. This is the part Ana didn't enjoy, naturally. But, it has a certain monotony and rhythm to it. Make sure all the dried paste is off the fabric to reveal the beautiful print. The dried bits can be used for mosaic and collage projects.

    kids craft paste batik home-made happy birthday flag

  8. Heat set the paint: using medium high setting, iron the fabric squares using parchment paper or even a thin old napkin to protect the iron.

  9. Wash the fabric. Since I had only 13 small squares, I hand-washed them as I wasn't sure if any paint will rub off on the clothes if I washed it with a full load of laundry. Can zigzag the edges before washing to prevent excessive fraying. But, I washed first for that rustic unfinished look. Dry the fabric. This time I dried them in the dryer on low heat setting. Muslin will shrink. And it did - close to about ¾ inches all around.

  10. When dry, iron it flat on medium heat setting. Finish the edges. Can simply zigzag, or use piping. Voilà! The gorgeous home-made flag pieces are ready.

  11. I was debating sewing them together to make it easier for hanging up each time. But, decided to keep them separate. This way we could rearrange the letters any time and make up new words.

    We simply used a clothespin to put it up as decoration for birthdays in the family.

    kids craft paste batik home-made happy birthday flag

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Blogger pamella said...

This is my Good luck that I found your post which is according to my search and topic, I think you are a great blogger, thanks for helping me outta my problem..
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5:10 AM  
Anonymous alpa said...

Hi Sheela, I love this banner! It is so rustic with that bohemian flair.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Sheela said...

Pamella:: Thanks! GLad it was helpful.

Alpa:: Thanks, you note made me smile!

11:08 AM  
Blogger Sketched Soul said...

This is SO awesome... love the way they turned out. Thanks for sharing the instructions. Hopefully I will try it out soon.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous grace said...

I just found your blog about this technique, tried it but didn't get the result as yours. Not sure if our flour paste is too runny, but I made ours almost like pancake mix. Once we paint the fabric, the color seeped through the dried flour paste so when we removed the dried paste we didn't see the "white" resisted images. We also used t-shirt material and watercolor instead of muslin and acrylic, do you think that what made the difference? Thanks for the instruction, maybe I need to try this again.


5:45 PM  
Blogger Sheela said...

Sketched Soul: Thanks, and do let me know how it worked out for you :)

Grace: I don't use watercolor paints for this project. Muslin or other plain weave cotton fabric along with acrylic paints are what I normally use for this project. Hope your next attempt is successful. Good luck!

2:00 PM  

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