How To Group Tie Dye In The Classroom-Summer Camp-Or For Parties!
I’ve loved tie dying ever since I dipped tightly rubber banded t-shirts into tubs of Rit Dye in elementary school. The colors and patterns were magical, but the fun part was wearing my creation!
Several years later and I was in The Brightside Tie Dye Emporium in Brattleboro, VT. Upon checking out with a bag of goodies, I noticed a small sign that announced that the owner was running a class in tie dying. I signed up immediately and soon learned the mysteries of making eye catching, non-fading t-shirts in myriads of colors and patterns. Beyond using the information to create pieces to sell at local farmer’s markets, I also used it in school and summer camp so that kids could make delightful pieces of their own. The pride they showed when wearing shirts they made themselves was justified. They were truly gorgeous.
I’m about to describe the method I used with the groups of kids. I’m sure there are different and better ways, but this worked great for me. The dyes to use are Procion Fiber Reactive Dyes. I always bought mine as a dry powder so that the dye would have a much longer shelf life. If you want to do this on a limited scale, try buying three or so colors. Remember, the colors can be mixed! Dyes, chemicals, and squirt bottles can be bought from the source given at the bottom of the article, though there are several other purveyors, too. Pro just happened to be the company I used. They also sell small booklets detailing how to create certain designs are are well worth the few dollars they cost. Any other materials may be purchased at the local Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or grocery store. The key is that I wanted the shirts to be non-fading and last a long, long, long time. If fading is not an issue, Rit Dyes are far less expensive and much easier to use. If you want to create something that will be regularly worn and still stunning three years from now, here’s the deal…
Here is our method for group tie dying. It’s a lot of work, so roll up those sleeves and enlist the parent volunteers!
1) Buy the shirts on sale. We get Large and Xlarge for sixth graders. I do not take pride into account when we do shirts. No one that I’ve met wants a shirt that looks like Spandex! I put several mothers in 4XL, and though they said they would use them for sleep shirts, they sure looked comfortable!
2) You will now need to wash the shirts to remove any grease that was left on the threads from processing. Wash shirts in HOT water with ¼ cup of washing soda or Pro-Dye Activator and ¼ cup of Synthrapol. Rinse on COLD. Dry shirts
3) Put a different number on the tag of each shirt in permanent marker.
4) Make a solution of 5 gallons of tap water to 3 cups of soda ash or Pro-Dye Activator. You will need four or five batches of this in one tub. I use my large sink for this. Add the shirts; up to 18 at a time, and let sit in the solution for 15 minutes. Wearing rubber gloves, squeeze out and put in washer. Set washer to final spin, and spin with no water coming into tub for rinse. Place shirts in a garbage bag to prevent them from drying.
5) Mix dyes with distilled water up to one week before dying. To one quart of distilled water in an old blender, add the following:
¼ cup of dye
Raspberry (reddish purple)
½ cup of dye
Cobalt Blue (FOAMS!)
1 cup of dye
6) Store the dyes in squirt bottles and clean milk jugs.
7) Keep folded shirts on a “grid table” when dying.
8) Wrap shirts in seran wrap. Get this from a kitchen / restaurant supply firm.
9) Let shirts sit wrapped for two days.
10) While filling washer (top loading only), take rubber bands off clothes (wear rubber gloves) and toss in washer (12 – 18). Wash and rinse on cold. Then wash on HOT with ¼ cup of synthrapol and rinse cold. Dry in drier.
11) Wash with dark clothes the first few times, but shirt will be colorfast.
Dyes and supplies are available from Pro Chemical and Dye Company of Somerset, MA.
Thomas Smith owns and operates Wonder Workshops, an online supply mecca of retro toys, puzzles, puppets, magic tricks, books, novelties, and DVDs, all based in science, math, and problem solving. Tom also presents hands-on, mind-on science workshops for teachers and parents around the country. To find out more about the workshops and store, be sure to visit http://www.wonderworkshops.com You’ll be glad you did!
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