Saturday, April 14, 2007
Art Lesson - Child-friendly Batik
I'm finally catching up a bit... I did this lesson with 46 sixth graders a week or so ago. I'm able to do this lesson with the middle-school sixth graders because we can fit it into their curriculum. They are learning about India, so I steer them in the way of Indian-type of designs. They also get a little bit of history on batik, which could also be incorportated into lessons on Indonesia, or even China. Actually if you researched, you could probably find some more countries where batik is a big art form.
This is pretty child proof, at least for responsible, or older children. It takes two sessions. I first have them draw their design onto paper, then trace it on to a cotton fabric. We usually just buy some white bandanas at Michaels. Then they draw over their pencil markings with white glue (instead of the usual hot wax). I add a tiny bit of water to the glue so that it flows into the fibers of the fabric easier. It's a fine line of too much water and not enough. Not enough will give a less white contrast once rinsed. You must stress to make sure to almost over-do the glue, and to keep the design simple, and bold. This first session takes the most time and I have to really push the kids so that they get done in the 50 or so minutes. I learned about that the first year I did this project. A lot of kids didn't get done, and my helper and I had to finish the glueing for a bunch of the kids! A lot of work!!
The next day is the painting process. Because it's water soluable glue, you must paint over it, not submerge into a dye bath. And you must not scrub too much over the glue once it's wet. At the school I use a watered down acrylic paint instead of dye. The cheaper "craft"-type of acrylic works better than the "artist" type - it just mixes in with the water better. Dye seems to be very irritating to the eyes, and I didn't want to chance a problem. If you were doing this at home, you could use dye with eye protection. I also have to emphasize wearing bad clothes, because of the permanence of acrylic. They have the option to wear a smock, but it's good to tell the kids this. There is also a fine line with the acrylic. Too much water will give a pretty weak product. Not enough and the fabric is kind of stiff. You have to really mix the paint up and get the pigments mixed in. I remind the kids to mix once and a while (I do the same with the glue). They just paint over the fabric, and they can use more than one color. So many kids overdo it and add too much color on top of each other, which really muddies it up. And next year I'll just have a brush per container of paint, rather than rinsing the brushes between colors. When they do this too much, it causes the paint to get too watered down. We hang them to dry. Then I take them home and hand wash them. I just worry that the washing machince will fade them too much. It's a lot of home-work for me, but when it's one of the few art projects our sixth graders get, I find the extra work much worth it. And they turn out just gorgeous!