Introduce your family to a 2,000-year-old craft known as "batik." Originally practiced in central and Southeast Asia as well as Japan and Africa, it is an art tradition that continues in popularity, particularly on the island of Java in Indonesia. Batik designs are commonly seen on clothing, tablecloths and wall hangings in vibrant colors. Applying hot wax to the fabric in places that are not to be dyed creates designs. Here's a way to get the "look" without the hot wax. All you need is to whip up a simple mixture of flour and water. Even the preschoolers in your household can experience this ancient art to create eye-catching table runners or wall hangings.
Simply mix together 1/2 cup all-purpose white flour with 1/2 cup water. Stir until smooth. Pour into a clean plastic squeeze bottle with a nozzle, like an empty honey-bear container.
Squeeze out the mixture onto white or plain-colored fabric, making designs, patterns or shapes. Leave undisturbed overnight. When dry, brush nontoxic fabric paint over the designs, making sure you paint between the hardened dough lines. Use a variety of contrasting colors, if you wish.
If painting a T-shirt, be sure it's prewashed. Place a sheet of cardboard between layers so that the mixture and paint do not soak through.
When the paint is dry, pick off the hardened flour mixture with your fingernails or a table knife to reveal your hidden masterpiece. If some of the flour mixture is difficult to remove by picking, run the fabric under warm water and continue to pick it off.Heat-set the paint with an iron according to instructions on the bottle. If you are making a table runner or wall hanging, carefully roll it up with tissue paper and tie loosely with a ribbon. Attach a holiday gift tag with the name of the person receiving the gift on one side and "Handmade by" and the name of your child printed on the other side.
Donna Erickson's new award-winning television series "Donna's Day" is airing on public television nationwide. Visit www.donnasday.com to find out when it airs on your local PBS station and to sign up for Donna's e-newsletter. Her latest book is "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families." © Donna Erickson
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