Make Beautiful, Bold Batik Designs on Fabric

Combine science and art using acrylic paint and glue to make beautiful batiks.
By Liz Heinecke
Apr 20, 2018



Make Beautiful, Bold Batik Designs on Fabric

Apr 20, 2018

Whether you prefer watercolors or sculpture, paintings, or textiles, there’s a science to choosing the best materials to create art.

Kids will love brushing washable paint over hydrophobic (water-fearing) dried glue to create colorful batik designs on fabric.

You’ll Need

  • White cotton fabric, like dish towels or old cotton tee shirts
  • White glue, such as Elmer’s
  • Washable paint, like tempera
  • Paint brushes
  • Bucket or a plastic container

Safety Tips and Hints

Young children should always be supervised around open containers of water.

If you use a blow drier to dry the glue, keep it away from water.

What to Do

Step 1: Ask your young artist to make designs on the fabric using glue.

Step 2: Allow the glue to air dry. (Alternately, use a blow dryer to dry the glue.) Ask your child what he thinks will happen when he paints over the glue.

Step 3: When the glue is dry, let your child use brightly colored, washable paint to create designs over the glue.

Step 4: Wait for the paint to dry completely.

Step 5: When the paint is dry, put cold water in a bucket, sink, or plastic container and let your child rinse out some of the color. 

Step 6: Help her scrape off any remaining glue.

Step 7: Hang your child’s masterpiece on a tree branch or towel rack to dry.

Step 8: Find an old picture frame and let your child display his work or give it to someone he love.

Creative Enrichment

Ask your child to think of materials other than glue that she could use as a water/paint-resistant material. Try making batiks using white crayons or rubber cement.

The STEAM Behind the Fun

The world hydrophobic means "water-fearing." Hydrophobic materials like wax repel (push away) water. When you paint or drip hot wax onto cotton, it keeps the cotton fibers from bonding with paints and dyes. In this lab, dried glue is used as a protective coating instead of wax.

Batik is the name for a method that uses water-resistant materials to create designs on fabric. The method is used in many countries around the world, but some of the most famous batik art is produced on the island of Java, in Indonesia. 


This project and more like it are featured in Liz’s new book STEAM Lab for Kids:52 Creative Hands-On Projects Using Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (Quarry Books, spring 2018).

© Quarry Books, 2018/STEAM Lab for Kids:52 Creative Hands-On Projects Using Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math
Featured Photos Credit: © Quarry Books

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Visual Arts