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How to Use Glue to Batik

Updated July 20, 2017

Batik is a style of dyeing common to many warm-weather indigenous cultures. It involves making a design with hot wax and then dyeing the surrounding fabric to create intricate but slightly irregular patterns. Unfortunately, true batik involves hot wax, lots of fabric dye and solvents or a lot of time using an iron to remove the wax. Try an easier method using washable glue and acrylic fabric paints to get the same effect.

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  1. Trace your design onto 100 per cent cotton fabric with a pencil. You can skip this task if you want to draw freehand, but sometimes it's difficult to see what you've drawn in glue. Pencil marks will not be visible in the final project; they wash off with the glue.

  2. Draw designs with white or gel washable glue on the fabric. The areas containing glue will remain white after you "dye" the cloth. It's important to explain this concept to children so they grasp what their final product might look like. Batik is similar in many ways to the wax crayon-style Easter egg-dyeing process with which many people are familiar. Let your glue design dry thoroughly.

  3. Dye the fabric using acrylic fabric paints and a paintbrush. Add a little water to the paints to give them a watercolour or dye appearance. If you use the paints straight out of the bottle, they will be thick and much darker than typical batik. When you're happy with the paints, allow them to dry.

  4. Remove the glue from your batik fabric. Soak the cloth in warm water in a washtub or other container for up to 1/2 hour. Use a scrub brush to remove the glue if it is particularly thick. Don't worry if some paint comes off. The colour will stick, and usually only hard paint flakes come off.

  5. Dry your batik creation. You may place it in a clothes dryer or let it air dry. Afterward, it is ready to wear or use in another project.

  6. Tip

    Batik is an alternative to tie-dye and can be a project at kids' summer camps. Consider using glue batik to decorate flags, bags, wall hangings and windsocks.


    Ensure the glue dries before adding paint. Otherwise, you could have a sticky, colourful mess. Experiment with adding water to your paint, but don't go overboard. Too much water can cause problems with the glue.

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Things You'll Need

  • 100 per cent cotton fabric
  • White or gel washable glue
  • Acrylic fabric paints in various colours
  • Paintbrush
  • Washtub or other container
  • Scrub brush (optional)

About the Author

Alyce Wright is a writer and editor living in the Washington, D.C., area. She has worked in the magazine publishing industry since 2008 and has experience writing and editing at newspapers as well. Her dual bachelor's degrees are in journalism and French.

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