I have to give credit to Phyllis over at there's a dragon in my art room for this process. I went to her workshop at NAEA 2017 on this technique and I just knew I had to do it with my kiddos immediately. My third graders were learning about world cultures and had just studied Africa, so I wanted to link it to this. We started by looking at some beautiful wax resist fabric examples from Ghana that a wonderful teacher in my school lent me.
I gave each kid an 18 x 12 piece of drawing paper and a 12 x 9 sheet of card stock. I had them make a simple shape on the card stock and cut it out. Then they took that shape and traced it onto their drawing paper to make a repeating pattern (I think next time I do this, I might even incorporate tessellation to get a more tiled look). Then I had them add a repeating second shape. After they had their design, we taped our paper to some large pieces of plastic I just had in my closet (you can use cardboard, matte board, anything really, you just want to keep your drawing flat). I cut a piece of unbleached muslin for each kid. This is what I used. I think I just ordered it off amazon.
We taped down the fabric over the drawing. To make the resist we used a mixture of white toothpaste (I had to do some research to find WHITE toothpaste, it turns out that CREST original works great) and hand lotion. There really is NO RECIPE. I literally just put a good squeeze of toothpaste and a bunch of pumps of hand lotion into a squeeze bottle and shook it up. I'm okay with this kind of impreciseness in my life, but for those of you who may need more detail, if I had to guess I would say maybe one third toothpaste to two thirds lotion? Maybe? 🤷🤷🤷🤷 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We used these squeeze bottles, but honestly empty glue bottles would work too.
Then we traced over our designs. FYI-your room will smell minty fresh!
I let the kids add extra details to their designs after they traced their shapes, the more resist lines, the cooler they look when they're all done. Let the toothpaste mixture dry and then paint over everything. We used acrylic paint, which will leave the fabric a bit stiffer than if you use non-washable tempera, but the colors come out brighter. If you are going to make fabric to make into actual clothing, I would get some non-washable tempera though, the colors will come out a bit more faded but the fabric softer and more 'wearable'. Just depends what you're going to use it for. Here we are painting our fabric.
The last step is to wash out the toothpaste mixture. We are lucky enough to have a big sink in our art room, but I used large buckets of water to make additional spaces where kids could wash out.
Here are some of our finished pieces!