Summer Making

This is a little post for me to look at come February. I read that book (so good!) & drank that coffee, all the while sitting next to that delicious bowl of blue water. Ah.

In between reading and swimming and strawberry binges, my niece and I tie-dyed a mess of T-shirts. She was a perfect helper at age 11. My advice is don’t bother with younger kids–it’s too tricky and intensive. Can you spot the blue raspberry Coolatta camouflaged perfectly with one of our dyed creations? Forgive me, folks. I’m an imperfect guardian of nutrition. We also dyed spiral designs (not truly hard and they impress people), accordion folds (like the one pictured here), and sunburst designs. I’ve done this project for many, many summers and it’s always satisfying when you unfold the dripping bundles and reveal what you made.

During a post-lunch slow minute, we also made these sun catchers, inspired by the glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. There are many Chihuly lookalike projects online. This one seemed the simplest, plus we happened to have the materials: Sharpies and translucent plastic cups.

We colored stripes and designs on the cups (weirdly enjoyable in a sensory way) and popped them in the oven at 350 degrees. I think 1-2 minutes creates a more dimpled, wavering Chihuly-type bowl but we may have left ours in for 3-4 minutes. Ours were more like tiny Frisbees. They condensed like Shrinky Dinks. We punched holes in them and hung them in the windows. Everyone thought it was fun, even my nephew who doesn’t usually like anything that might be considered artsy or crafty.

Creative Kid: DIY Tie Dye


It was cousins’ craft weekend at the lake cottage–a well-timed event considering that it rained (monsooned) half of the time. When the cousins weren’t performing as members of the Awful Music Band (really, truly awful), we were painting, sculpting clay, printmaking, and getting our hands stained if not dirty with a tie-dye extravaganza. If you’re interested in making tie-dye a summer tradition too, here is my unofficial guide, with kid-friendly steps starred.

DIY Tie-Dye

1. Buy a 3-color tie dye kit. I usually use the Jacquard Funky Groovy Tie Dye kit, which includes everything you need: the dye already in squirt bottles, rubber gloves, rubber bands, soda ash, and good instructions. Have extra dishwashing gloves and rubber bands on hand. This kit makes about 5 t-shirts.

2. Collect white cotton clothing. If it’s new, make sure to pre-wash. Don’t forget to tie-dye some socks–always a crowd pleaser!

2. Set up an outside work space and cover it in plastic.

*3. Create your design by folding and using rubber bands. Stripe designs, sunbursts, and traditional circles are simple enough for kids to make. Several easy patterns are included in your dye kit. It’s okay to improvise, too!

4. Soak t-shirts in soda ash for recommended amount of time. This enhances the dye’s vibrancy.

*4. Apply dye with squirt bottles. Kids should wear aprons/old shirts and rubber gloves. Remember that yellow + blue = green. Red + blue = violet. Yellow + red = orange. Keep clear of combos that make brown! Brown is not a groovy tie-dye color.

5. Place dyed shirts in plastic bags and let them sit overnight. The next day, rinse very well (I use an outdoor hose and bucket) and then throw them in the washing machine.