Projects – DIY Geometric Design Batik Print

I Just got back from a little short 10 days vacation around Indonesia and Malaysia. I haven’t had any real vacation in the past two years as most of the time I am busy with my job and part-time study. I just simply needed the time off because I am pretty much burning myself with stress.

This particular article is an indirect inspiration from my vacation. Malaysia and Indonesia are quite popular with their Batik, a form of traditional fabric printing by using hot wax using an apparatus called a Canting, drawing designs on the fabric and dipping said fabric into dyes, producing magnificent works of art often worn by the local men and women. I did not visit any Batik making workshops when I visited these countries, neither did I went to a factory making these kind of fabric, not even stepping into a shop selling them!

But when I got back home. the day after, I went to the local mall and I found plain white scarves on sale. Suddenly an inspiration came up – what if I make my own custom scarf using the batik making way?

Of course, i do not have access to the full-fledged traditional batik printing materials and equipments, but like a true (or even a half-hearted) DIYer, I try to find a simpler alternative to the ancient method. Sure enough, when I researched the internet, I got plenty of suggestions using simple materials and equipments that probably most of us already in possession.

The materials and equipments needed include –


  1. Fabric – I did not actually buy the scarves on sale at the store, but as I was just experimenting, I am using a worn cotton tee-shirt. You can use any fabric you like, but it is best to choose natural fabric as opposed to man-made material because this method will not work well on these kind of fabric.
  2. Template or draw your own design – You can use a template like I did ( This was the left over material from my last project, the backing of a vinyl sticker sheet) or you can simply design yourself. Note though it wont have clean sharp lines, but using a template would help slightly to achieve cleaner lines.
  3. Paint – you can use any kind of paint but I think fabric paint would be best. I am using poster paint that was diluted with a little bit of water.
  4. Pencil – If you want to make a design without a temple, a pencil is useful to draw your desired design on the fabric.
  5. While Glue (PVA glue) – This is simply your typical primary school glue. It dries clear and washable. Use this to make your design on the fabric.
  6. Scissors – This is not essential as I am using this only to cut a piece of fabric from the tattered tee-shirt.
  7. Brush – Of course, you need a brush or two for this project. I am using this wide brush for colouring the fabric, but you might need a smaller fine tipped brush for your glue. I did not a different brush as the glue has an applicator inside.


First, you ‘paint’ your design on the fabric using the white glue. Again, you can do this with a template, or simply brush the design onto the fabric directly. I am using a template so the design looked sharper. When you finished designing, let the glue dry. This wont take long. Be careful not to let the fabric stick to anything or itself as it would mess up the design. 3  Once the glue is dried, you can start painting the fabric. You can use many kind of paint – watercolour, acrylic, poster, fabric paint – depending on the strength of colour you desire. I am using a heavily diluted poster paint in Sky Blue as this is the only paint I have in hand. I just had to dilute the paint as it was dried and needed quite a bit of water to loosen them. However, if you have a fresh poster paint that is still malleable and in liquid form, you can simple use it with just a few drops of water.  When you are finished, let the whole thing dry again, preferably overnight so the colour can set it. When it is dry and you are satisfied with it, you can then rinse the fabric to remove the glue and reveal the design. Iron the fabric with the glue side on a tissue or parchment paper so the excess glue can be transferred on the paper. 20140509_223958The finished product. As you can see, the colour on this experiment is not as vibrant as I wanted, but it is merely because I was using heavily diluted poster paint and I did not wait overnight for the color to set in. But in a way the experiment is a success, and I am eager to use this method to make scarves in my own design.

This is a great DIY project to do on any fabric you wanted your own touch of creativity.

Islamic Wallpapers…Real ones!

If you had follow this blog since its inception, I am sure you have known by now that I am, with the service of a separate website, have been selling fabrics, prints, wall decals, posters,  shirts and other stuff. I came up with the design and then the websites – and – manufacture them in their respective products and then sell them. So far I am not lucky in this business, although I have to say I am not very confident in my designs so I need to improve myself first and then maybe I can sell more.

click on the pictures to see my storefront in both of the websites.

REDBUBBLE – For prints, stickers, shirts (including babies!) and hoodies –

SPOONFLOWER – For fabrics of different kinds and of course, designs.

My Spoonflower storefront is empty at the moment, but I will approve the designs I am selling very soon.

There is an interesting development in the Spoonflower website – they are now offering removable wallpapers! Now someone actually emailed me asking if they can use my design for their homes, to be put up as wallpapers and considering that,I have been thinking about buying my own designs off their site in the form of canvas fabrics to make them as wallpapers, but I find that their prices for the fabrics are quite high for a yard and considering that you need quite a sum of money just to cover one wall!

Thankfully now they are offering removable wallpapers that are very simple to apply – just add water! I am considering to redecorate my room but I couldn’t bring myself to paint the walls because…you know, its not my own place. But I need to consider putting up wallpapers because the walls are pathetically thin and made of some sort of building grade plywood so it gets quite noisy especially with the neighbours with their power tools in the early mornings! With this option in the Spoonflower website, I might be able to redecorate it afterall.

I am thinking of getting the design below, though I am not really sure if it will work with my *shudder* painted lacquer red room. I will buy a few rolls sometime soon, and once I put them up, I will post another on this subject, and then maybe you can join in the fun by purchasing a few rolls for yourself. If you have some ideas about this and maybe suggestions for me, do comment or email me, I need the help!


Projects – The Annunciation…In Persian miniature, with Islamic Background

During the blackout days of the internet we were experiencing here in Brunei, I got quite some spare time to myself…Usually, I would whip out my trusty old pencil from my last years of school and a fresh new sketchbook. Too often, especially if I have too much things in my hand to do, I wouldn’t have any idea what to draw or sketch, but it is totally different this time around. What with the absence of distraction that is the wonderful world wide web the creative side of my brain switches to creative overdrive mode!

…Well, not exactly a creative overdrive mode since I am working on a theme almost too universal and almost all known by everyone – the Story of the Virgin Mary.

I was looking at art books featuring Christian, specifically Marian Christian Art. We all (presumably, if not most of us) know the story of the Virgin Mary – it differs according to your chosen version and religion but universally the story goes that a virgin girl named Mary or Maryam is chosen by God to bear a child named Jesus or Isa to become his Prophet. When I saw one of the paintings named the Annunciation, the one where the Angel Gabriel or Jibril is sent by God to Maryam /Mary to announce the child who she will carry in her womb, the idea immediately struck ; lets make an Islamic interpretation of this painting.

The story of Maryam and her son, Isa is story told many times in the Qur’an, the Islamic Holy book. My first instinct, when my thought is wanting to make the Christian painting Islamic, is to refer to the Holy book to find the specific verse that fits the scene of Annunciation and shortly enough, there it is – in the 3rd Chapter or Sura – The Family of Imran, Ayat or Verse 45 –

إِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلآئِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ وَجِيهًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ


when the angels said: ‘o mary, allah gives you glad tidings of a word (be) from him, whose name is messiah, jesus, the son of mary. he shall be honored in this world and in the everlasting life and he shall be among those who are close.


So once I got the exact verse, I get immediately to work. first I copied the verse and created a calligraphic work using the Thuluth script. This is to be my base for the miniature. Then I cam up with the scene – almost similar to the Annunciation painting, but with Persian miniature style. The made two figures, one is Maryam on the left and  on the right is Jibril. I used the same colour for Maryam’s robes in the Annunciation painting that is red and blue but in the clothing fashion of a Muslim woman. The robes of Jibril were different ; using green, one of the colours of Islam, with bright yellow, dotted with golden pattern. He is wearing an Islamic Turban. Also I painted golden flames on the backs of their head; Persian Miniature version of the Halo. I had deliberately left both of them faceless as not to upset Muslim sensibilities.

The scene is made up of a room, or building with an arch. On the top of the arch is a dome made of gold, decorated with medallions in red and blue, copying the colours of the Virgin’s robes. The Whole building/room is in blue, one of the preferred colour in Islamic art. It is accentuated with gold borders, with white calligraphy featuring the Qur’anic verse the painting is based on. On the sides features Geometric design, outlined in white.On the back of the figures you can see a popular geometric design motif in Islamic art, done in black, bright yellow and blue with ornamentation in white and gold. The ‘floor’ is in reddish brown, with geometric design of the eight-pointed star.

I then went on with colouring the rest of the page – I gave it a matching blue frame with gold borders. Surrounding the building/room is a light blue background. I intended to add more ornamentation in the form of arabesques, floral and animals, but I don’t have the right complementing  colour (and the patience)

I then again went nuts with the design. I gave the ornamental borders a further decoration in the form of arabesques in white with gold accents. I stopped painting now (I ran out of gold and brown colour), but if I finally finish it, I will post it here 🙂 I plan to make more based on the story of Maryam and Isa, though I still need to see more Marian Christian art for inspiration and more Persian miniatures to emulate.

(Failed) Projects – Islamic Pattern Lampshade

I do quite some DIY projects during my adult life especially after I got a good paying work to buy the materials because simply I like to create things. But like many things, sometimes the project doesn’t come out the right way that you wanted – you thought up the project in your head, the materials needed, the work et al. Of course during this period, everythitng is perfect, until you realize something is wrong in your plans and you already did it and there is no turning back and ultimately screw the whole thing up.

This one project is one of them.

I obtained one of the few cheaper item available in the local IKEA store – the LAMPAN table lamp. It is a simple but effective bedside lamp with a too easily removable plastic lampshade. When I got it I thought, I can make a new, Islamic geometry, lampshade with some black construction paper and some laminate I got lying around the room. So armed with a brand new box cutter,a template copied from a printed photo of a wooden door from Egypt and white coloured pencil, I went with the project one night.

I stated with measuring the circumference of the lamp, and it is exactly the length of three construction papers put side to side. I work the papers one by one, copying the pattern of the template using a white colour pencil. It is a simple process requiring just a bit of my time since the patterns fit nicely with the width of the construction paper.

Template on the construction paper, with the drawn white lines

After the pattern copying was done I cut them out – a rather simple process if I use scissors but the if I do they will fall apart. Instead I used some extra sharp box cutters (it actually cut through the board and onto the desk!) making sure that the pattern are cleanly cut. Then it was just a matter of popping out the patterns, and laying them between the sheets of laminating plastics.

The cut construction paper lied side by side on my carpet…so it isn’t really clear

Now, laminating the whole thing would be much more simpler with a laminating machine, as well as if the article being laminated is flat. But for this project I have to laminate them in a cylindrical shape to conform to the lamp’s shape and to stick the pieces together (because if I use some type of glue or tape to stick them together it wouldn’t look like a single piece…or so I thought)

Using a pair of hot hair straightener I laminated the pieces together. I thought it was going nicely when I realized the irons weren’t long enough it didn’t reach the middle of the pieces. So with all my efforts, I still didnt managed to fully laminate the whole thing up.

The finished ‘lampshade’ at night

Although this was, in my opinion, a failure, it still sits on the LAMPAN table lamp and frankly it gives of a nice pattern in the night and the laminate does a good job soften the light which would be too harsh without the included lampshade. I like to think that I am learning from all of this and hopefully I will have another chance at making another – I already thought of a lampshade for a pendant light out of a single paper!

*NOTE – there is some problem with uploading pics with WordPress, I will update this post when I can- you can’t really appreciate the post without the pictures!

UPDATE – Finally got the pics on…shrunk them to a considerably small size so that they can be posted here. Note to self – just use the iPod camera.

Projects – Mashrabia-ish Window Decoration Redux

I am not really satisfied with the old window treatment even though it is always a delight to see the shadows play with the morning light. I am missing the complexity of the Geometric patterns of the Masrabia in the Middle East, and the old window decoration doesn’t do justice. So, I decided to make another one with a new style with a more complex look. I removed the old ones from my window panes and prepared all I needed to create the new window decoration and trying to emulate the Mashrabia.

Armed with a pair of scissors, a craft knife, some scrap papers, a tube of glue and a piece of paper printed with the design I wanted, I cut my way through twelve pieces of scrap paper based on the design. That piece of paper became a template, and I traced the design on a blank piece of paper using a pen, pressing hard on the paper so the design would be transferred. I then stapled the rest of the papers together and cut the design according to the transferred design.

The cut papers are then glued on the already cleaned window panes. I only applied a few dabs of glue on the ends of the papers, so should I change my mind again, I can remove it without much hassle.

The end products is like the picture above. I had noticed that the designed is flawed ; the stars between the glass panes doesn’t form the desired pattern. This is because I based the template on a printed picture of a door from a Minbar in Egypt, so the design aren’t supposed to be set side by side.  But in my opinion, it still looked great especially with sunlight pouring in.



Projects – Islamic Architecture on Paper

Since I was small, I always, in my free time, sketch and draw – on every scrap paper that I could find, drawing human figures, abstract designs (if you would honour scribbles in that way) logos, buildings etc…So much so I often get into trouble, for I also often use the back pages of my school notebooks for my spontaneous sketches. Very naughty of me, and when I reminisce, I can’t help it but to think how funny it was.

As I grew older, and as I had (and have) jobs in my hand, I find it hard to spend some time on my drawing and sketching, though that spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment, my-hands-have-minds-of-their-own moments are always there -my notebook which I carry everywhere when I am at work is a testament of this, and surprise, I always prefer the back pages for the sketches. Old habits will never change, I suppose. The notebook is full of what I am most interested in today, that is, Islamic art and architecture. you can find attempts to understand and recreate Muqarnas, looking for new styles and shapes of Geometrical stars, trying my hands on different types of calligraphy etc. If I have the chances, I will scan and post the pages here for you to see.

When I was 19 years old or so, I was thinking and imagining (read : daydreaming) about this lost land, far away in one of the seven sea of the world, where all cultures and religion of the world collide and create a harmonious country. One of the ‘states’ of the country is a place called Darussalam, the Abode of Peace in Arabic, where all Islamic aesthetics come together. I imagined a majestic and very grand palace where the Sultan and his queen would reside. The palace itself is an amalgamation of different Islamic styles – from Persian Iwan and grand gates, Moroccan style open hall with a fountain in the center,Egyptian Mameluke or Fatimid style hall, an Andalusian-Spanish style pavilion with a canal and gardens like those in the Alhambra and a Turkish grand palace with its multiple domes and of course, the Hammams.

As busy as I am, sometimes I found some time alone (usually in the middle of the night) and I grabbed my pencils and a piece of paper, I took my old ideas and recreate them. Now that I have a deeper understanding of the Islamic aesthetics and architectural features, my sketches look the least more authentic than I used to do. However, I know that I have still lots more to learn.

Sorry for the huge watermark in the middle. Have to protect my creations! Anyways, this is the “main gate” of the “palace” I was imagining. The style is combination of Mughal and Persian aesthetics. The geometrical stars are still not perfect, so is my straight lines. I tried to recreate the Muqarnas from the Persian buildings above the portals. I think I essentially recreated it, but not as perfect as the real thing. The floral motifs flanking the lower part of the gate is influenced by Mughal and Indian art. You can see the feeble attempt to recreate the geometrical Kufic scripts inside the portal – something I really need to learn more deeply. The calligraphy along the gate is taken from the Al-Quran, from the Surah Al-Fath.

This one have a muted, faded watermark, but it is still a watermark across the pic :s This is the Andalusian-Spanish pavilion , which supposed to be between the “Egyptian Mameluke/Fatimid Hall” and the “Main Palace” itself.  I did not recreate the gardens, but I just drawn the main pavilion. Should it be in colour, it would have red clay roofs, with white walls, plus the colours of the Zillij tiles on the second floor (Mezzanine?) of the structure. I just essentially trying to recreate the horseshoe arches, famously used in the La Mezquita in Spain. I did not drawn the Zillij inside the pavilion itself, due to my perspective problems..

Project – Islamic Star Pattern Wallpapers 3

To make up for the lack of posts these few weeks, I would like to upload some of my creations (again) for your desktop customization needs.

I made some Islamic designs for making some sort of greeting card that I can post on my Facebook. I tried making it as my wallpaper for my laptop, and surprisingly, it looked great. I adjusted some bits here and there, and then playing with some patterns I did not used before, use some different colours and effects and there you have it, some cool looking (in my perspective, anyway) wallpapers that you can put up for your computer. Remember, you can download these wallpapers for free, but please do not delete the watermarks and reproduce them to another website.

The wallpapers focus on coloured backgrounds with white outlines. The size is 1024 x 768. However, should you need other resolutions, pleas do leave a comment!

The Blue wallpaper. This is some sort of accident, actually, playing with cyan-blue gradient background and gray-white outline.  I was surprised on how it turned out, and it became my favourite wallpaper on my laptop.

The Green wallpaper. The background is gradient dark green-light green and the outline, stylized six-pointed stars with two interlaced lines in solid white. What makes this one particularly special is the usage of the interlace design, creating a complicated look for a simple shape.

The yellow wallpaper. Actually it is more of a gold colour than yellow. I rarely use yellow in my projects because I don’t like the colour. But I actually experimented with the colour and to my pleasant surprise it looks quite nice. The background is gradient Dark yellow-gold with outlines of 14 pointed stars inspired by Zillij tiling in solid white.