Tea Dyeing Fabric Art with Young Children

Tea Dyeing Fabric Art with Young Children
Tea Dyeing Fabric Art with Young Children

When I was in college for my art education degree, one of the classes that I fell in love with was Fibers and Design. In this class I learned all about sewing and making clothing; designing and dyeing fabric; the art of silk screening; and the art of batik. I became so fascinated with fabric design that I incorporated a lot of what I learned into my paintings themselves.

What I wanted to teach my children with this lesson is that you do not need synthetic dyes to color fabric. In fact, the art of tea dyeing {and coffee dyeing for that matter} has been around for hundreds of years. Although in college we originally batiked the fabric first with hot wax, it is not very safe with younger children and alternatives must be used. In most cases using glue in place of hot wax would work with synthetic dyes, however, it does not hold for very long with tea dyeing because the fabric needs to be soaked for days in the tea water. We decided to use crayons..........

Classified: Super Easy and teaches children of all ages the concept of basic fabric design and using natural elements as a dye.

What you need:
  • Natural Fiber, such as cotton or silk fabric.
  • Tea bags- any kind. This is where it is fun to experiment because different teas will yield a different color. We mixed green tea bags with orange mango tea bags.
  • Crayons
  • Bin large enough to soak the fabric.
  • Water
  • Optional: Frame and stapler
  • Scissors
  • Soda Ash

What to do:
Prep: ADULTS- Use precautions with little ones: To help activate the tea bags, make the water in the container hot when placing them in. Have the tea bags sit until the water is cooled- even removing them after you have reached the desired color. The water DOES NOT have to be hot for the fabric to go in and SHOULD NOT be if you are allowing your child to do this step by herself!

Kids Tea Dyeing Craft
1. Have your child design their fabric. When I taught middle school students the art of Batik, I had them sketch out traditional Batik designs. I would encourage younger children to design their fabric with a special visual message. I provided examples for both! I found stretching the fabric with tape to the table made it a lot easier to draw on. You can accomplish a "batik look" with this method having them use a white crayon.

2. Adult Role: Special Note: for the tea "staining" process to hold better, after your child has created their design with crayon on their natural fabric, soak the fabric in soda ash according to the labels directions.

3. Place the designed fabric into the tea mixture and let it sit for 24 hours. Check it and decide if it is as dark as you wish it would be. We soaked ours for 3 days before we were satisfied.

4.  Allow the fabric to completely dry. At this point it is perfectly 100% safe to wash in the washing machine!

5. Optional: Attach to a frame.

Kids Tea Dyeing Fabric
Kids Tea Dyeing Fabric "Playing Inside the box." by 3 year old

Kids Tea Dyeing Fabric
Kids Tea Dyeing Fabric "Me and My Mommy." by 5 year old.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely, can't wait to try with my little man, thanks for sharing. Will have to Google soda ash, never heard of it, might have different name here in Ireland


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