PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric

Students learn about the ancient art of batik and use a simplified, melted crayon on fabric process to create their own design of the close-up view of a plant. CAUTION! This technique should only be done in a well ventilated room and with adult supervision.

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 6 to Grade 9


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts


batik contrast


Crayola Crayons - 24 Count Crayola Erasable Coloured Pencils - 12 Count Crayola Paint Brushes - 5 Count White Cotton Fabric - 22.9 x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") - 1 piece per student Old Electric Frying Pan Mini Muffin Tin - 12 Count Masking Tape Iron Bristol Board - 25.4 cm x 33 cm (10" x 13") - 1 per student Recycled Newspapers Dark Blue Cold Water Fabric Dye - Indigo Rubber Gloves Large Plastic Basin

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PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric - Step One

Step One

  1. Tape all 4 sides of the fabric to a piece of paper or tag manila.
  2. Pull the edges tight as you tape them down to give a smooth surface.
  3. Refer to your picture or rough sketch.
  4. Use erasable coloured pencils to draw the main details of your design onto the fabric.
PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Select the colours of crayons you need for your design.
  2. Remove the papers and break the crayons in half.  
PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Place a muffin tin into the electric frying pan. 
  2. Place the broken crayons into one of the muffin tin spots.
  3. Continue to do this until you have all the colours you need in your palette.
  4. Set the temperature to medium.
  5. Always have water in the pan when the crayons are melting.
PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Paint with the melted wax crayon.
  2. Make sure the colour is hot enough to melt into the fabric. 
  3. Be sure to fill the entire surface of the fabric with melted wax crayon.
PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric - Step Five

Step Five

  1. When you are finished remove the tape.
  2. Turn the fabric over.
  3. Add more melted wax crayon to any fabric not coated with colour. 
PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Crumple the fabric in your hands.
  2. Make as many cracks in the wax crayon as possible.
  3. Unfold the fabric.
PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric - Step Seven

Step Seven

Be sure to wear plastic gloves to protect your hands and an apron to protect your clothes.

  1. Place the entire fabric into a basin of dark blue, cold water fabric dye. 
  2. Scrunch the fabric down into the basin.
  3. Squeeze out the excess dye before you remove it.
PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Flatten the fabric on a piece of newspaper. 
  2. Place several pieces of newspaper on top of the fabric.
PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. Set the iron to cotton.
  2. Slowly move the iron over the newspaper to remove the wax.
  3. Keep the iron moving and stop when the newspaper is full of melted wax.
  4. Repeat, using fresh newspaper until all the wax is removed.
  5. When you no longer see wax on the newspaper you are finished.
PLANTS IN NATURE – The Ancient Art of Batik on Fabric - Step Ten

Step Ten

  1. Decide how you want to display your finished work.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a batik on fabric using a simplified, melted crayon process;
  • create a design based on the close-up view of a plant;
  • use contrasting colours;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the artworks.


Have students:

  • work in small groups;
  • research the origins and history of batik in various countries;
  • compare the traditional way of making batik with the process they used;
  • work cooperatively to present the information in a digital class book or slide show that includes photographs of all the batiks made by the class;
  • share the finished presentation with other classes in the school;
  • place it on a continuous loop so it can be viewed by visitors to the school. 


  1. Prior to the lesson download background information about batik, for example,
  2. Download some images of batik from around the world, for example,
    Sri Lanka
  3. A UNESCO video showing the techniques, symbolism and culture surrounding Indonesian batik can be found at the following link:
  4. Link this lesson to a study of characteristics of plants in science.
  5. Provide time for students to select a plant to work with.
    - Ask them to make several sketches from observation, to photograph close-ups, or to download an image from the internet.
    - Explain that they will use this image as the source for their batik design.


  1. View and discuss some of the batik pictures and share a few interesting points about the artform. 
    - batik is both an art and a craft
    - a way to decorate cloth using wax and dye
    - an expressive artform that has been around for centuries
    - the artform has been found in use in the early centuries in Africa, the Middle East, and in several places in Asia
    - Java, Indonesia is most famous for its batiks
    - the word batik comes from the Javanese word 'amba', which means to write, and the Indonesian word 'titik', which means to dot or point
    - to make a batik hot wax is painted over parts of the fabric and then the fabric is dyed 
    - wax resists the dye so the fabric that has been waxed remains the original colour
    - to get another colour wax is again brushed onto the fabric and a new colour of dye is used
    - this process is repeated until the design is completed
    - once all the colours are done the wax is removed
  2. View and discuss the UNESCO video.
  3. This is the traditional process. Explain that the class is going to do a simplified version of this process.
  4. Introduce the challenge


The Challenge

  1. Create a batik on fabric using a simplified, melted crayon process.
  2. Create a design based on the close-up view of a plant.
  3. Use contrasting colours.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a batik
    - designed a close-up view of a plant
    - changed things for artistic purposes
    - worked directly from my source photo
    - used contrasting colours to make areas stand out
    - used a heavy layer of wax to make lots of cracks

    - removed all the wax from the fabric
    - followed safe practices

    - kept everything in good condition
  3. Ensure safe practices. For example,
    - be aware of the hot electric frying pan 
    - always make sure there is water in the frying pan, replacing it when it evaporates 
    - keep the frying pan temperature set to medium 
    - work in a well ventilated area 
    - wear plastic gloves for the dyeing process 
    - wear an apron for the dyeing process 
    - keep the iron moving while removing the wax and replace the newspaper once it is filled with wax
  4. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  5. Observe students as they work. 
  6. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all the batiks are complete display them for a group discussion. Remind students of the challenge.
    Look closely at the batiks.
    - Choose one that interests you for some reason.
    - Share thoughts about the work.
  2. During the discussion include references to:
    contrasting colours - How does the use of contrasting colours contribute to the effectiveness of the overall design?
    - crackle effects - How do the crackle lines contribute to the effectiveness of the overall design?
    - technique – How does the simplified batik process compare with the traditional process?



  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their batiks – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas on the batik, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - Batik_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - Batik_self-assessment.pdf)