A new way to louse up shirts

I got a link in twitter about using Sharpies for tie-dye.

Now, you have to understand, in my neighborhood, I’m the patron saint of tie-dye.

batik & dip dying

I go on and on about “fiber artist”, but when the rubber hits the road, I am most in demand (especially with our community summer camp) as someone with the largest repertoire of ways to louse up a t-shirt. So a new way to do it (particularly one that didn’t involve turning all my wooden spoons odd & toxic colors) was just the thing.

Tie dye & batik at camp

I rushed out before Hurricane Irene, and, while other people were clearing the shelves of bottled water, I was collecting art supplies for 5 kids (and 2 adults) who might be entertaining ourselves for a week without power.

See how provident I am?

Unfortunately for art, my kids can already entertain themselves thankyouverymuch, so I didn’t get to do it until this week, when I more or less stomped my little feet about it.

Here’s the procedure.

  1. Get shirt, sharpie, rubbing alcohol. (alcohol being alcohol, you could probably use gin, if you wanted to, but rubbing alcohol is cheaper. Don’t drink it, though.) *pro tip
  2. It would be wise to have something to stretch the shirt over, and rubber bands to hold it there. All the directions I read said, “plastic cup”, and we used that, but for larger designs used disposable tupperware type containers, bungied with rubber bands.
  3. We added “stencils” for some of the perfectionists in the house. These were mostly paper cutouts to use as a template for heart shapes.
  4. Small stable bowls for the alcohol, Q-tips. The Q-tips were kinda fail, in some respects, (slow) and I understand why Girl Scout troops use squirt bottles, but no way I was handing around squirt bottles of ANYTHING. Mama HATES going to the ER.
  5. Select a spot. Put your cup under it, and hold on with rubber band. (Cup in the MIDDLE of the t-shirt. 2 layers was too much to ask.)
  6. Make a small circle of dots, about as big around as a nickel. Like 6 dots. It looks more “tie-dyee” with an accent dot or two in a coordinating color.
  7. Using your Q-tip, put little drops of alcohol in the open center of the Sharpie dots. This is, as I said, slow. But the ink spreads away from the dots, so if you try dabbing it directly on, dropping it randomly, or otherwise deviating, it doesn’t do what you’re expecting, in spread. Now, THAT’S OKAY. Because ART HAS A RANDOM ELEMENT. But we all know some folks, any age, will be made miserable by that, so that’s why I warn you.
  8. That’s it. Our experience is that one big cup diameter is about how far the circles really WANT to spread, and you want to let them dry a bit before moving the cup, but it’s alcohol, evaporates fast.
Here are some of ours.

Sharpie tie-dye

You’ll notice, right off, that, while I love creating directions (and I’m pretty good at that) I can’t follow them, at ALL. Too ornery. We had big fun. 🙂

Sharpie tie-dye midriff shirt

So, all you gals with the Klout perks Sharpies, and all you resolutely crafty types, and all you homeschoolers, get busy. Leave a link if you try it.
Oh, P.S. Some sites claim this as a science project in chromatography. It is to laugh. While this might not be the worst chromatography experiment ever, it’s still pretty weak for that. Far better to do the “reverse & resist” Tie-dye. I’ll explain that soon, if you like.
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