A fun and well-tested project for any age, right down to kindergarten! Everyone will need something to wear to Gala especially those Dads who many not know just what to wear. Your class can solve that problem BIG TIME — by making Tie Dye T-shirts to sell prior to the Gala. If a class took up this project, we could put the T-shirts on sale at the viewing of classroom donation to Gala, which occurs about one week prior to the Gala. And we could advertise prior to the event that there will be T-shirts for sale.
NOTE: Co-ordination needs to happen. A good project for, say, two classes but probably not more!
Where To Start
There is a great company in the US called Dharma Trading (California). Yes, if ever there was a company that was a part of the 60's scene this it. Their website has step-by-step instructions for and lists of materials for GROUP tie-dye projects —exactly what you need.
- Techniques... There are two kinds of techniques for tie tye, tub dying (where you make pails of dye) and squirt bottle dying (where the t-shirts are first pre-treated with a soda ash solution, and then dyed using squirt bottles). Squirt bottles are easier for smaller kids; vat dying allows for greater freedom in the kind of "ties" you can do, including very cool traditional Japanese tie-dying (for the fashion conscious). The Japanese technique is called "shibori" and would be suitable only for older children ,10-12. Ask Kathleen if you want some information.
- Little One, Big One. It's hard for very young children to make art and then give it away, unless it is given to a family member. You might consider having young children make two T-shirts, a little one for themselves and a big one to sell. Or one to sell and one for Mom or Dad for Mother's or Father's Day (this solves the problem of what to make for that day too! You should ask for funds from parents, though, if you are buying an extra shirt.
- Cheap but Excellent Cotton T-shirts. Where do you get these? NOT at that very large craft store in the mall. These are hugely expensive and not pure cotton, which means these do not hold the dye well. The best source that I have found has been Dharma, even though this means shipping the T's to Canada in advance. They offer discounts for bulk orders, and their prices are about half of equivalent T-shirts in Canada (despite the high Cdn. dollar). They have a huge range, from basic to fashionably fitted (not that anyone in the 60's wore fitted T's but we could.)
- Powdered Dyes: Caution. The dyes used for tie-dying are not harmful to children in liquid form (unless they drink a bottle of it, gor forbid). Dyes are dangerous only in powdered form. They can be inhaled as particulate matter in the air and are hard on the lungs. (If you asthmatic, consider asking another person to mix the dyes for you.) Always MIX THE DYES BEFORE COMING TO SCHOOL, and use a carpenter's mask over your mouth when you do so. NEVER LEAVE A JAR OF POWDERED DYE UNOPEN. SEAL IMMEDIATELY. (I don't mean to scare you, but it's fortunately we now know how to use art materials safely, something that is fairly recent in the art community. Just be safe, not scared.)
- Make Lots of T's!!! The more T's you make, the bigger profits you will make, but not for the obvious reasons. The expensive part of the project, other than the T-shirt itself, is the time for preparation, setting up and teaching the kids. Once you are set up and the kids know what to do, it takes only minutes to make another T-shirt. You can take a break from your "shirt production" and come back to it afterwards!
- Make something other than T's! Dharma Trading (no I don't work for them!) has hundred of different clothing "blanks". The cutest ones are all the baby clothes (of course). But these could be sold too prior to the Gala or at the Gala (but not at auction).