mindy slominski mindy slominski
Hi, Last year our school did a tie dying project. unfortunately the colors did not stay and the shirts didn't look all that great. I did some digging and found the procion mx dye. I bought some and last summer my family had fun creating shirts. Now this year the school would like to try the tie dying again this time using the stuff I used. I mixed the colors and used the squirt bottles with my family, but I'm afraid that this won't won't work with 150 children ages 5 - 14? My question is this can we do a submersion tie dye? If so how do you mix (how much) and at what point do we soak in the soda ash? Please help, I think I bit off more than I can chew!!!!!!!!!!!
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deb deb
I've taught pretty much every age from 2-year-olds thru high school, so I'll throw my hat in here if that's OK.

I would break it down into batches/classes if possible. With any luck you can do a few kids at a time, especially with LOTS and LOTS of parent help. Perhaps you can limit it to just the younger class(es) or older? Or do younger, middle, and older on three separate days to keep things partway sane?

Assuming you have adult help, maybe you can give a parent primer before you do it with the kids, show them how to tie stripes, for example, or a spiral. You can also give a separate primer for the kids before they even come to you so they can have a bit of time to let ideas settle. Witht he younger in particular, one choice or maybe two is plenty to keep you from going TOO crazy.

Definitely have lots of gloves for the kids if you plan to have them do their own hands-on stuff; I've found that the disposable food-handling gloves that come in commercial boxes at warehouse stores are good for this (we've only done tie-dye playdates so far!). Some folks also recommend aprons. Lots of people suggest leaving garments to set in ziploc bags, but I've had some unpleasant color bleeding this way, so instead I use plastic wrap (like Saran Wrap) to keep things separate and to keep extra dye from ending up elsewhere on the garment.

For my own dyeing I also use old towels to absorb the dye and keep it from going everywhere, and after each towel gets full of dye I put it on a pile to Synthrapol-wash. You can use paper towels if need be, envinronmentally un-PC though it may be. Younger kids in my experience tend to use WAY WAY WAAAY more dye than they need, though (except for those pesky centers of spirals, which always manage to remain white without adult intervention before about age 7 or 8 when they have enough small-motor control to manage that stuff with gloves on! LOL

For younger kids, if you can pre-tie their garments that would save time in the dyeing process; parent volunteers are ESSENTIAL if you do this. Maybe younger kids can pick from between 2 designs, like spirals or stripes, and their shirts can be ready to go, already soaking in soda ash. And if you use, say, school colors, that keeps your color choices from getting too crazy, if that's a priority for you.

Is there an art teacher who can help the older kids plan what they might want to do? I find that having a plan helps me a LOT.

Now.... if you're going to do a submersion, all one color, you might want to go ahead an order a BIG jar of dye powder in your desired color, like the 5-pound size. I won't be much help on how much you need, though, since I do small batches (like 5-10 at a time) and tend to "eyeball" a lot. I'd plan on SEVERAL large containers (large Rubbermaid tubs?), though; perhaps you can use a different color in each one and give kids a choice of color if you do it that way? (and get 1 pound of several different colors?)

Yes, it's definitely possible to bite off more than you can chew in such a project. Even a tie-dye playdate turned into a 3-hour dyeing session, followed by a lot of waiting (with pizza and a video), a rinsing session, and a Synthrapol laundry session. That said, your participants can take their garments in their Ziplocs (OK if using one color for each garment) home, rinse after a day, and be responsible for their own rinsing and laundering.

By all means let us know what you end up doing. I know I'm curious!
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mindy slominski mindy slominski
Thank you for all of you good suggestions!!!!! I was really feeling like I didn't want to do this buy maybe I will now.
Do you know can you tie the shirt and they soak it in the soda ash? or does it have to be soaked and then tied?
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deb deb
I usually tie and then soak in soda ash, then dye after the soak. With two kids and lots of interruptions, it just works best for me. From time to time, I'll end up with garments that are soaking in there for days till I can get around to dyeing them without interruptions! LOL

Just did a group project with a church youth group and with 3 adults we managed to get probably 18 shirts soaked and dyed. I brought two bins for soaking (like dishpan-sized), a box of plastic food-prep gloves, LOTS of towels (soaks up dye instead of having pools of it on the workspace), 3 sets of 3 squirt bottles for primaries plus one each for true red, deeper blue, and black. I should have prepped for more - the advisor guessed that 6-10 would show up, and we ended up with more like 15, and a couple kids brought multiple shirts!

I also brought Saran Wrap and Ziplocs; for the kids who did patterns like stripes and hearts where they didn't want colors bleeding, I wrapped those with Saran Wrap to keep the colors separate; for the ones where the kids just squirted colors all over the place, I tended to put those right into Ziplocs. Oh, and LOTS more rubber bands than you think you'll need - we kinda had to raid the office for more. :o

Having trashcans handy was helpful too, since any spills needed to get wiped up ASAP since we especially needed to keep the social hall clean (paper towels handy is important), and I should've remembered big plastic bags to take home my towels.

I did a sort of folding tutorial before we started, showing hearts, stripes, spiral, and circles, and showed them how to use the nozzles to get the dye into the folds, and after that it was sort of turn 'em loose and hope for the best. A couple of the kids worked out stripes, but some of them did a heart or spiral and then put dye everywhere anyway, so I guess we'll have to see how they turn out. (I'm hoping they post pics at their next meeting. :-)) Once the shirts were all dyed and bagged I told them about waiting till at least evening, preferably overnight, to rinse, rinsing till the water runs clear, and then for the first wash or so washing with darker clothes till the loose dye was all gone. I wonder how many of them managed to wait till evening? LOL

Hope your project goes well!
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