Spring Into a Fresh Batik Technique

I saw the most beautiful thing when I came home from “Quilting Arts TV” taping last week. Not only had all of the snow melted while I was away, but a small patch of bright green moss shimmered among the dull brown weeds on the hill behind my home. This spot of emerald was the first sign of spring I’d seen this season.

Green is my absolute favorite color and I surround myself with it. The walls  in my bedroom are painted avocado green, so it’s the first color that greets me when I wake, and I’ve set my computer desktop to green so it’s the color I stare at most throughout the day. In my studio at night I have a tendency to print and dye fabrics some shade of kiwi or apple, and my fattest stash of commercial fabrics? You guessed it: all shades of green.

No wonder St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays (and not just because I’m part Irish). It celebrates everything green represents: warmer and longer days ahead, the promise of a blossoming garden very soon, and an overall celebration of creativity.

A few days ago when I was in a particularly creative mood, I decided to batik fabrics using a flour paste resist process Jane Dunnewold demonstrated on the “QATV” set last week. It’s also a process on her upcoming Quilting Arts Workshop DVD, Screen Printing Sampler: 4 Fun & Innovative Ways to Make Artful Cloth. Of course, I dyed mine in shades of green

This is a simple yet satisfying process. Here’s an overview:

  1. Mix 1 cup ordinary while flour with 1 cup cold water (not hot, or the paste will be gluey) and stir until the lumps are gone.
  2. Pour the paste over the top of your fabric. Spread it over the fabric with a squeegee. Make sure you haven’t missed any spots.
  3. At this point, you can let the paste dry thoroughly, and it will form a simple crackle. Or, you can use a skewer to draw designs in the paste, then let dry.
  4. When the paste has dried completely, gently scrunch the fabric up, crackling the hardened paste.
  5. Apply a coat of thinned black (or other color–I used green here) textile or craft paint over the flour surface, working it into the cracks (or design) and let the paint dry completely.
  6. Wait at least 24 hours for the paint to set, then soak the fabric in warm water until the paste dissolves. Wash in the washing machine to fully remove the paste (you don’t need detergent).
  7. Dry in the dryer and press with a hot iron. Use as is, add more paint, or over-dye.

For a more detailed description of the process, see the February/March 2008 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, now available on CD as part of the 2008 Quilting Arts CD Collection, and look for Jane’s Quilting Arts WorkshopTM video coming soon.

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21 thoughts on “Spring Into a Fresh Batik Technique

  1. i’m so glad that you have give the recipe of the flower past, i had read somewhere else about it, but i thought how must you make the flower past?
    so thanks a lot , i have tryed this years ago on my own and it didn’t work great, but now i know the right directions. ;-D
    Your desings look wonderful;-D

  2. I love the green, Pokey! My favorite color too…and the combination of textures. Did you do the diamond “snakeskin” one with a skewer? Gorgeous, I’m ready for spring!

  3. Pokey, I am so into greens too! My kids complain about the whole house eventually ending up green because ever redo I do has green in it! Sometimes I think I must be reliving the 70’s or something, because wasn’t EVERYTHING in house trailers avacado green?????
    I haven’t gotten so far into quilting as to want to dye my own fabric; but maybe someday…..

  4. Hi,

    I’ve changed the directions to reflect how I made these particular batiks. I used different shades of green–no black.

    Sorry for the confusion!


  5. I’ve done this technique many times before and have found it to be easy, a lot of fun, and it makes great backgrounds for adding other layers.
    One thing I found, before I pour on the paste, I pin the fabric to my padded printing surface. I pin about every two inches or less all around. It keeps the piece flat while it dries. Otherwise, if I don’t pin, the piece will crumple quite a bit, and it can cause different or more crackling than I wanted, and it makes it much more difficult to put on the paint. Be sure to add the paint at full strength or your color will be too pastel.

  6. Your fabric’s are so wonderfully juicey and GREEN- I can almost smell freshly cut grass. Got ot go get my Old issue of CPS and give this a go! Flowers bloom ing soon!!!!!

  7. These are beautiful Pokey and thanks for the instructions! My favorite color is green, too. Did you use muslin or a commercially printed fabric to start with?

  8. Thank you for sharing more great techniques…

    If you really love green that much I would like to invite you to visit the beautiful Pacific Northwest! We have green everywhere (it’s all the rain)… By the end of winter even our street turns green from all the moss.

  9. This is a technique that I am definitely going to try. If mine look HALF as good as yours, I’ll do it again and again! I’ve never heard of flour resist….your results are fabulous! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thanks Pokey for showing your beautiful fabrics.
    That are gorgeous colors green.
    I watch your show all the time and make sure I am home in time to see what is coming on.Love your showand also love the magazine.

    Thanks for explaining how you did it.

  11. I’m new to this fabric painting “thing” but would like to try this technique. How thick is the layer of flour paste on the fabric? How large is the piece of fabric you used for this amount of flour paste? Does the paint soak through all the flour or just in the cracks? Is the paint diluted or full strength?

  12. I’m glad I’m not the only one addicted to green LOL. I’m pretty excited about this project! The results are gorgeous, and the “ingredients” are cheap, easy to find, and non-toxic… PLUS it’s easy enough for my lovies (11 and 6) to do with me. Twice as much finished fabric, you know!

  13. Gorgeous! On the fabric with a swirley pattern, did you completely cover the cloth and then draw in the shapes, or did you apply the flour paste in the swirley shapes?

  14. Anyone who’s hooked on green is tops in my book. In reading your other blog comments, I see there are quite a few of us who can’t resist wearing it, decorating with it, or putting thread through it. I’m intrigued by your flour-paste printing technique. Judging by the tone-on-tone lusciousness, you must have started with green batik. You probably said that and I missed that detail. I’m eager to try this. Always love surprises, esp. when they’re the color of spring.

  15. I teach students with profound cognitive impairments and multiple disabilities. I tried this technique for Batik in my classroom when our 2nd grade Buddies came to join us. Simple and beautiful and easy to do with kids and in the classroom where there is no heat source and only cool running water. The fabrics are beautiful. We are framing them and sending them home for Mother’s Day.