Ocean Batik

July 31, 2011

Take a look at the sea creatures we made at the beach this year! Aren't they wonderful? I have been wanting to give glue batik a try for quite awhile. The beach house was the perfect place because we could do all of the work outside in a shaded spot with a big wooden picnic table, easy access to a hose, and multiple clotheslines for drying. Remember our painted fish shirts and the tie-dye ones? This year my mom had a stash of plain white pillowcases which was perfect for the kids. This project also worked well at the beach because it is a multi-day/multi-stage process and by the end of the week each kid had a very special beach souvenir.
There are plenty of good tutorials out there on the web for the glue batik method (this one is my favorite), but here are a couple of things we learned along the way. The blue gel glue bottles were way too hard for the kids to squeeze. Only one of the older kids was able to squeeze out her own design (way to go, Isabella!). I'd love to do this project again in the future, but I think I would experiment with transferring the glue to easier to squeeze bottles (like those self-fill ketchup/mustard containers perhaps?) or pour the glue into small bowls and let the kids use q-tips. This meant that my mom and I did most of the "drawings" with each kid by having them guide our hands or just telling us what they wanted and letting them add details to the larger design. Not quite as fun as having the kids draw the creatures all by themselves, but it worked. After all of the glue drawings were complete, we let them dry outside overnight.

The next day we started the second stage: painting. We opted to go the cheaper route by purchasing small bottles of acryllic craft paints. We watered down the paint and found that it worked just as well as fabric paint and perhaps even better since there was such a wide variety of colors. The original instructions called for cardboard and wax paper between the fabric to prevent the paint from bleeding through to the other side. I can see how this would be a good idea especially when working on t-shirts, but we ended up skipping this step because it was too windy and I actually think it made the pillowcases a bit more interesting with color on both sides.
The painting stage was the messiest, but most enjoyable part of the process. It was fun to see what colors the kids used and also their various approaches to painting.Since the paint is watered down, some of the older kids struggled with wanting to control the paint and keep it within the lines. It helped to explain that the glue formed boundaries that would be revealed later in the process and to emphasize that there truly is beauty in the watery mix of colors. After the pillowcases were painted, we hung them up to dry overnight.
On the third day, my cousin and I  hand washed all of the pillowcases in warm water. It was exciting to see the drawings emerge even more clearly as the glue washed away and left the white outlines of each creature. We hung them up to dry for a third time. Luckily, we had plenty of sun and wind during our week at the beach. I can see how this project would not work nearly as well if we had had to contend with rainy weather and/or a small indoor work space. It was also good to have some additional adults helping out since we had so many kids of different ages and abilities. I loved how the pillowcases turned out and it makes me happy to think about my kids and their cousins falling asleep with their very own keepsakes and memories of such a special place and time together.
likeschocolate said...

These are fantastic! Thanks for sharing the link on how to do it!

Corinne said...

OH man. This might be the thing for next summer!!

Mom said...

Totally amazing! They are all so beautiful they could inspire a whole linen collection!

Jan and Randy said...

LOVE IT!!!! Going to have to try it one day.

Jan

Emily said...

Wow! I LOVE this idea! They look like so much fun to make -- and what a great keepsake!

se7en said...

Wonderful and a great keepsake!!!

Dawn said...

I love how you do projects each summer to remember the time there... this one is awesome.
Thanks for sharing.

Dana said...

i wanna be in your family :)

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