Christmas D.I.Y.: Homemade Batiks

If you’re looking for a way to channel that creative outlet this holiday season, then grab some paintbrushes and Elmer’s glue to begin creating some unique Christmas gifts!  Elmer’s glue?!?  Yes, with the glue you used in childhood to create holiday greetings with colored paper, sequins, and feathers, you can also use to make what’s known as the “Poor Man’s Batik” for a special Christmas gift.  Most batik instructions will tell you to use wax and special dyes, but as my Arvada Center co-workers and I discovered, the same effects can be created using everyday craft materials.  My first exploration into this method began when I re-created a National Geographic photo of a Fennec Fox that I absolutely adored and you can view HERE.

Fennec Fox (L)

After learning and enjoying this new technique, I began to use my own travel photos to create my batik scenes.  To learn how to create these on your own, take a look below.


Muslin (any size you would prefer)

Acrylic paint


Plastic cups (to hold water and individual paints)

Elmer’s glue

Glue China (L)

Step One:

Place plastic wrap on a flat surface or cardboard underneath your muslin fabric to help with the glue and paint that will leak through.  In my case, I used plastic and paper bags since they were convenient, but I would recommend something sturdier and flatter.  Begin by drawing out your pattern lightly with a pencil or use Frixion: Pilot Pens that you can use steam to erase later.  Trace the drawn pattern with glue and let the glue dry completely.  Check on the glue since it likes to bead; if it does this, simply reconnect the beads of glue together by adding more glue or dragging the tip of your glue bottle from one bead to another.

Painted China (L)

Step Two:

Once the glue has dried, paint on top with whatever colors you desire.  Be careful to mix the paint with water so that it doesn’t peel later.  In one experiment I used fabric paint and tested it without water.  The results made the glue harder to remove afterwards and made the paint peel.  At this point you can choose to peel the glue off as you paint and the glue softens, or you can let the paint dry for 1-2 days and continue with the next step.

Finished China (L)

Step Three:

Place the finished painting in hot water and let it soak for 20-30 minutes.  Some instructions say the glue will dissolve, but I found I still had to scrub some glue off in order to completely remove it.  Wrap the painting in a towel to remove excess water and heat set in the dryer.  Iron with a press cloth to complete.

These works of art can be used for just about anything: bags, pillowcases, etc.  A co-worker suggested I use mine to create a wall hanging as a memory of every place I’ve traveled to.  Sounds like a fantastic idea that will keep me busy and be good reminders of where I have been and where I will go next; hopefully I’ve come a long way from those school Christmas colored-paper greetings.  To see my travel inspirations, take a look at my photos and paintings below:


Finished Catacaos Batik


Finished China (L)

This post is a part of Tip Me Tuesday hosted by Tip Junkie.

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