Wednesday, August 24, 2011

'11 Mixed Emotions Dance #20: Sharpie Tie Dying

At Blockette's Birthday Party, I had all the kids make these fun "tie dye" shirts with sharpies. I first saw Sharpie tie-dying tutorial on the blog Sun Scholars.  The same tutorial is available at Steve Spangler Science. That site gives the science behind this fun experiment.  I mean, (Waves hands) it's magic! 

Now did I remember to take ANY pictures of the kid's shirts before or after?  No. I did have an extra shirt leftover so I made another shirt especially for the purpose of putting pictures on this blog. 

So here is what you do.  Take plastic cups and place them inside your shirt. Put a rubber band at the lip of the cup to stop the spread of the color.  Then draw your design with sharpies.  The more abstract the better. 
Then...the magic.  Isopropyl Alcohol.  You can find this stuff in any grocery store or pharmacy in the first aid section.  I used an old medicine dropper for babies to apply the alcohol.  I found that 5-7 drops did the job nicely.
Woah.  You tell me that it isn't magical. 

OK.  Now for the not so magical part.  When I washed the shirt Blockette made, it bled.  HUH?  These are sharpies.  They aren't supposed to bleed.  Some of the color from her design got on the back of her shirt when I washed it.  Not only that, but I found pink on one of my gray shirts that was in the same load.  I heat set the (dry) shirts from the party for 30 minutes in a hot dryer before I washed it (in cold water), just like the directions said.  That was supposed to set the dye.  I did a Google search and found about 20 different blogs and tutorial websites.  None of them had a problem with bleeding.  Sharpies just aren't supposed to bleed.  The ink is not water soluble. 

Now, that pink dye could have been from the new pink clothing Blockette got for her birthday.  They had never been washed before.  Perhaps they were the cause of the pink on my shirt?  I thought that if the alcohol made the sharpie ink spread, maybe I could get whatever that pink stuff was to spread right off the shirt.  So I used the dropper to put alcohol on my gray shirt (which had already been in the dryer).  Wouldn't you know it, that pink came right out!  Whew!

The thing is, even if the new clothes were the cause of the pink on my shirt, it didn't explain why the other colors on Blockette's shirt got on other parts of her shirt.  That's the real mystery.

So here is the part where I sort of mess up the shirt I just made above.  I wanted to soak the shirt in vinegar to help preserve the color, but I only had a tiny bit.  I poured that on there and let it soak on the shirt for 2 hours.  Then I rinsed the shirt out in cold water.  Because I was anxious about the color bleeding issue I washed the shirt I made above in warm water with an old white sheet...before I set it in the dryer.  DOH!
So the shirt faded quite a bit, but there was no color bleeding onto the white sheet.  Blockette loves the shirt because the colors are light and pastel now.  So dainty and girly, doncha know?  I'm glad she doesn't think I ruined it, as the shirt was in her size.

If you are going to attempt this, here is what I suggest doing:
1. Wait until the alcohol has dried completely. 
2. Iron the shirt or stick it in the dryer to heat set your design.
3. Soak the shirt in vinegar and water overnight.
4. Rinse the shirt in cold water.
5. Stick the shirt in the dryer again to be on the safe side.
6. Wash the shirt in cold water with dark clothes.

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