Having a kids' tie dye party is lots of fun, but, admittedly, it can make a bit of a mess. This short-cut tie dye technique not only makes designing tee shirts fun and easy, but adds an element of science for kids to learn. We all think of Sharpie markers as permanent, but this technique uses a solvent (rubbing alcohol) to move the color molecules to make pretty tie dye designs.
You can do this tie dye technique with a tee shirt or any fabric. All you need is a plastic cup, Sharpie markers in different colors, rubber bands and rubbing alcohol.
1. Place the plastic cup inside the middle of the t-shirt. Position the opening of the cup directly under the section of the shirt that you want to decorate. Stretch the rubber band over the t-shirt and the cup to secure the shirt in place.
2. Place dots or circles of ink from one marker in a circle pattern about the size of a quarter in the center of the stretched out fabric. If you like, use another color marker to fill in spaces in between the first dots. There should be a quarter size circle of dots in the middle of the plastic cup opening when you are finished.
3. Slowly squeeze approximately 20 drops of rubbing alcohol into the center of the circle of dots. Do not flood the design area with rubbing alcohol. The key is to drip the rubbing alcohol slowly in the center of the design and allow the molecules of ink to spread outward from the center. As the rubbing alcohol absorbs into the fabric, the ink spreads in a circular pattern. The result is a beautiful flower-like pattern. Kids often say the design looks like the colorful surface of a compact disc.
4. Apply as much or as little rubbing alcohol as desired, but do not let the pattern spread beyond the edges of the cup. Allow the developed design to dry for three to five minutes before moving on to a new area of the shirt. After you have finished your design, it is important to heat set the colors by placing the shirt in the dryer for about 15 minutes or rinsing the shirt in a solution of vinegar and water as a means of setting the colors.
Thanks to “How Cool Is That?!” (Hands-On Science) which offers inquiry-based, age-appropriate, messy yet educational hands-on science activities for children taught by an insured, certified Connecticut teacher for contributing this post. Check them out for after school programs, parties and camps.
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