Cheat’s Batik

At Creative Stitch, the group I belong to, we are due to have a session on resist methods, using both fabric and paper. I have seen a simple way to replicate a batik look without the hot wax and the special equipment. It involves using Elmer’s glue, which is similar to our PVA. It seems to be made in France and the cheapest I have purchased it for is £4.45. It is available in white and clear, I’ve used the former, but I don’t think it matters.

(Since writing the above a friend has been in touch and said that Ryman’s stocks Elmer’s glue and at only £2.99).

My first experiment was on a piece of dyed cotton and I thought I would draw some teasels as they are in a vase close to my sewing room. The glue has an easy applicator nozzle, so I simply drew the teasels freehand onto the cotton fabric.

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After leaving it to dry – thoroughly – I painted it all over with cheap acrylic paints. As you can see from the photograph below it doesn’t look too promising!

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When the acrylic paint is dry and hard, immerse the fabric in warm water and agitate until the glue has come out and the paint has softened. Small particles of paint come away, so you might like to do this in a bowl rather than wash it all down the sink. When dry, press flat.

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It has got a waxy outline look and the nozzle was quite easy to control. This technique would probably need quite a dark colour paint to make the marks stand out. Next I thought I would see if I could draw an outline and then paint within the shapes. I selected a continuous line drawing that I have in one of my sketchbooks and decided to use white fabric to really make the glued areas stand out.

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This time I traced the jug and honesty and put the tracing on a light box with the fabric on top so I had an outline to follow. My light box is slightly angled so I propped it up so the glue wouldn’t run and as soon as I’d drawn the whole image I removed it from the box and laid it out to dry.

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The outlines were very clear and I painted the jug blue, the background orange and the honesty white, as in the sketchbook version. When dry I washed it out, left it to dry again and then pressed it. This time I machined, using one colour, outlining just as you would with a black pen or pencil.

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I rather like the way that the glue seems to wash out completely and that, depending on how thickly you have applied it, you can get a broken line.

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