How to Make Glue & Paint Batik Shirts

We started our batik t-shirts this week.

I had let the boys each pick out some acrylic paints a week or two ago at the craft store and promised we'd be making shirts with them.  I finally found the time to start them with the kids.

We first looked at pictures of batik cloth and clothes to give them some ideas and then I set them loose with white t- shirts and clear glue (though white glue will also work well).  Ian sketched his design first but Alec and Evan decided to just free hand them.  We got the fronts all glued and set them in the sun to dry two days ago.

After they were dry we flipped them over and worked on the backside.  We stretched each t-shirt over a large strip of cardboard to keep the glue from leaking through both sides of the shirt.  Wherever the glue is; it will resist the paint.

Today, we headed outside and painted the fronts of the Batik Shirts.

I'm not sure they really understood how Batik works as they didn't start out painting large washes of colors like I thought they would.  The more I talked and explained and reminded them of color resists we've done in art the more they seemed to understand.

Whether the Batik works or not they'll still have nice, colorful t- shirts to wear.   We set the shirts in the sun to dry.

Our shirts dried very quickly in the sun but we discovered a problem.

Once they were done and we were ready to wash the glue off of the shirts to reveal our Batik designs we discovered that the shirts were all stuck to the cardboard!

Not one to be easily deterred, I slowly peeled the shirts off  where I could (making a few small holes in the shirts!) and leaving some small paper scraps of cardboard behind.  I put all the shirts in the washing machine and hoped that as the glue washed off so would the cardboard.  And it did though my washer and dryer were littered with scraps of cardboard (which I then vacuumed out of the washer and dryer).

 It was a bit of extra work but the boys and I love the t- shirts.

 I'm a bit bummed about the one or two small holes in each shirt though from where they broke free of the cardboard.  I can't imagine making the shirts without the cardboard as most of the paint went through the shirts too; perhaps if we had wrapped the cardboard in some sort of cling wrap?  I don't know.

But I do consider this project a success anyway and something I'm sure we'll try again.


  1. Nate loves this book:

    He thought it was the greatest becuase he's obsessed with numbers, the bigger the better.

    The elementary school had an art show several weeks ago and Nate begged me to take him. They displayed all the kids' art in the cafeteria and hallway, it was very impressive and I was floored at Nate's interest in art. This is a kid who never liked to even use a coloring book. Get crayons at a restaurant? forget it. art project at preschool? He'd have no part of it. Now just this year with being introduced to actual artists and techniques he's really into it and as an almost art minor in college, I'm secretly bubbling over with joy!

  2. I have that book on order from our library-- have you read Millions, Billions, and Trillions; Understanding big numbers? That one was pretty good too. Alec has always been my most passionate about art and lately all three boys are eager to paint. I minored in art in college (and wanted to be an elementary art teacher) so I'm loving this!

  3. I'll have to try this. My boys love using fabric pens on their clothes, so I bet they would love this too. Thanks for sharing with Be Clean Be Green With Kids!

  4. Fun idea for the kids and they can wear their art projects too.
    Happy summer,

    1. For years we would make some sort of t-shirt every summer; tie dye, spray paint, stenciled, etc. so they had a specially made shirt to wear for the summer.

  5. Well, when you try new things, sometimes there are little mishaps. These are cool looking shirts, though! Thanks for sharing at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home. --Jennifer

    1. Yes, very true! I find with any new project there is always a learning curve.


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