High Fashion: Hot Wax Batik

Recently, teachers had a great time at the Museum participating in fun fashion projects during our ExxonMobil Teacher Training called High Fashion.  Try out this activity from the class.  Have fun and be careful! 

Hot Wax Batik

a woman's work...
Creative Commons License photo credit: filtran

Materials:
Adult helper
Soap kettle
Paraffin wax
Iron – be careful to protect it from wax or use an old iron
Q-tips
Thick brown paper – like grocery bags
Cold water dye
Plain cotton fabric
Scratch paper
Pencil
Old newspaper

 

Procedure:
1. Grab an adult to help you.  You must have supervision for this project!

2. What is batik?  Batik (pronounced ‘Bah-Teak’) is a technique used to dye fabrics. Wax is applied to the areas on a piece of fabric that are not to be dyed.  There are various ways that this is accomplished, but the most common are for the hot wax to be “painted” onto the fabric using a brush or to be poured onto the fabric directly.  Once the wax hardens, it has penetrated the fabric and it is now time to dye the fabric.  The hard wax prevents the dye from penetrating the fabric in the areas it has been applied.  The wax is removed after the dyeing process by using a solvent or heat. 

3. Pick a fabric that you would like to dye.  Thin cottons work well (not t-shirt cotton).  You can buy remnants cheaply at a fabric store.  You will need to make sure and wash the fabric before the activity for the dye to penetrate properly. 

4. Melt the wax in a soap kettle or in the microwave.  Please be careful, as hot wax can cause serious burns. 

5. Mix the cold water dye according to package directions.  Be careful not to get this on your clothing as it will NOT come out.  Put the dye aside for now.

Sarah's Eyes
Creative Commons License photo credit: allyrose18

6. Sketch out your design on a piece of scratch paper.  Make sure to keep in mind the size of your fabric and plan accordingly. 

7. Put down some old newspaper to work on.  Dip a q-tip into the wax and use it to draw the design on your bag.  You could also use a fine-tipped paint brush to apply your design.  Allow the wax to dry.  This takes very little time.

8. Put on disposable gloves and immerse the fabric into the dye.  Be careful not to get it on your clothes, as it will stain permanently! 

9. Remove the fabric from the dye and allow it to dry.

10. Using an iron, remove the wax by pressing the fabric between two pieces of heavy brown paper.  Grocery bags work well for this.  It is best to use an old iron or extra paper to protect your iron from the wax.

11. Look!  You have a beautiful fabric design!

12. Do not wash your fabric with other clothing as some of the dye may come off in the wash.

Cigar boxes and sparkles are the way to a teachers heart!

Earlier this month we had our first Educator’s Overnight of the school year and the theme was Day of the Dead! This topic has been near and dear to the Education department and we always manage to have one or two activities for teachers or students surrounding the Dia de los Muertos celebration.

Teachers adding details to their cigar box altars!

Teachers adding details to their cigar box altars!

We had a great time getting everything ready for the activities. We had plenty of things planned so that the hours would be full of things to do. Our goal was to make activities that teachers could “try” and then take back with them to their classroom to use with their students – what we didn’t expect was that the teachers would have so much fun with the arts and crafts! Kathleen Havens, the assistant director of youth education here at the museum, put together an awesome curriculum and gave the teachers the jumping off points and examples for all of the hands on activities.  

These enthusiastic educators transformed their simple cigar boxes into detailed works of art!

These enthusiastic educators transformed their simple cigar boxes into detailed works of art!

The teachers decorated ‘calacas’,  went through the process of making sugar skullsand then decorated some pre-made sugar skulls with colorful royal icing, created mini-altars in cigar boxes and painted Catrina-shaped fridge magnets. If you’ve ever worked with a group of kids on a project and you hear groans when you say “ok everyone, 5 more minutes and then we’re going to move on” you would be completely familiar with the sounds we heard from this group of teachers!  They were so excited to continue working on their mini-altars, creating tiny bouquets of flowers out of modeling clay, cutting out tiny papel picado from construction paper, building stairways and platforms for their tiny clay loaves of bread to perch upon… these teachers were going to town! After the allotted time for hands-on activities had finished for the night David Temple took the group on a flashlight tour of the Hall of the Americas and the Paleontology Hall.  Then some teachers decided to call it a night, but others asked to be able to go back and work on their altars – how could we say no!?

By about 3 am, everyone had finally headed up to bed and then it seemed like only moments later I was waking everyone up for breakfast at 7 am! Just imagine, those teachers were up in time for school on Friday and still up at 3am on Saturday morning with plenty of energy – that’s absolutely incredible! I hope that they took their projects back to share with their students and spread the enthusiasm for Dia de los Muertos they shared with us at the Overnight!

Gel food coloring (found in the cake decorating section of cooking stores) is used to make the really vivid colors of royal icing!

Gel food coloring (found in the cake decorating section of any cooking store) is used to make the really vivid colors of royal icing!

This was the second Educator Overnight that we’ve had here at the HMNS, and I think we all agree that it was both a sucess and a lot of fun! We’ll be hosting our next Educator Overnight – Mummies, Tombs and Catacombs in April and registrations are already rolling in! If you’re not so excited to sleep in the Museum we also offer 3 hour ExxonMobil Teacher Tuesdays. The next one up is ‘Polymers!’ with Carolyn Leap which should be lots of fun too!
Want more info? The recipes we use to make sugar skulls and the icing to decorate them can be found online at Mexican Sugar Skull.com - they also have a lot of other cool Day of the Dead related items to check out.
I have included a few photos here and have posted more (with some closeups of finished sugar skull designs) on our HMNS Facebook page. If you want to become a fan of HMNS you can check them out!