Sunday, December 29, 2013

Troop T-Shirts: Glue Batik

Our Girl Scout troop went to a camporee recently.  We had big plans to make troop t-shirts to wear on the Saturday.  Here's what we did (and what I did wrong).  I would totally recommend this for Cub/Boy or Girl Scout troops ages 8 and up as a method to get individual and yet united t-shirts.  The girls voted on turquoise for the color. 

glue batik

The above is what they would have looked like if I had done the last few steps right.  Also, I had a laundry accident with a pair of El's pink tights and decided to over-dye them while I was there. 

Materials and things to think about ahead of time:

  • men's undershirts in a variety of sizes (washed at home)  Alternatively, everyone could bring in a white shirt from home that is prewashed.
  • enough bottles of white or gel glue - doesn't have to be 1 for everyone, but probably no less than 1 for each 2 kids.
  • cardboard wrapped with waxed paper to put inside the shirts.  (We had one of my fearless co-leaders doing this at the meeting, but would have been better to prep it ahead of time.)  We had leftover boxes from the fall product sale that I was saving for this.  Soda 12-pack boxes, cereal boxes or cookie/popcorn boxes would work well too, as well as posterboards that are no longer needed.
  • Sharpie or laundry marker for labeling the shirts.  We (and by we, I mean another fearless co-leader) wrote it in the hem since they were tagless shirts.
  • plenty of room - tables or floor space for working that is not going to get ruined with a little white glue.
  • a way to bring the shirts home from the meeting or be able to dry them in place (this miracle was worked through a combination of fearless co-leaders and dedicated parents)
  • Acrylic paint in the desired color (for this, I used 1 bottle of acrylic for 12 shirts, but previously, I used 3 colors in squirt bottles.)
Once each girl has a shirt with her name on it, with waxed paper cardboard inside of it, she grabs a bottle of glue (or finds someone to share with) and draws her design on either the front or back of the shirt (but not both).  Personally, I didn't care which they picked, but I can see how someone would enjoy the consistency of either having the designs all on the fronts or all on the backs of the shirts.  If you wanted to add more consistency to the design you could add more mandatory elements to the design, like the troop number, the scout's name, the event, etc.  I really enjoyed how all the girls picked different things to put on their shirts - I like to give them the chance to innovate and be creative.  I think they get more out of the program that way - they spend so much time having to do stuff the "right" way in real life, this is a chance to experiment with no real bad consequences.  Worst case:  if they don't like how the shirt comes out, it's only a one day, not in public shirt and then it can be a pajama shirt. [end soapbox]  Mostly, though, the easy way for me to find all the girls is by them being all the unique troop color, so that was my main concern. 

The glue is going to spread out and settle - so being consistent with line weight works best and simple designs with lots of space and not a lot of letters - or make the letters big and blocky (not like regular handwriting). 

Once the glue dried, on a sunny afternoon, I tried doing the squirt bottle method that we did before, but that was going to be a resource hog.  So, I took a bucket and mixed some of the acrylic paint and water and just swished each shirt through the mixture, refreshing when the liquid was getting low and making sure that the color got on everything.  If you are more careful than me, you will figure out the ratio on the first batch and then add water and paint to refresh in the same ratio.  Also if you are more careful than me, you will wear gloves for this and maybe a paint stick.  Then I spread them out in the yard to dry. 

glue batik up close

We were doing so well.  Here's where things went south:  I washed them before they were completely dry and after the wash the glue was gone and so was most of the color.  The shirts were tinted an ice blue and you could only see where the glue was if you looked at it funny.  In retrospect, when the sky turned cloudy, I should have put them in the dryer to seal their fate, then washed them.  I was a little bit concerned about turning the inside of my dryer colors, but I have no way to know if that would have been a real issue or not.

In the end, we had signed up for a tie-dye class at camporee and we used our tinted, labeled shirts for tie-dye.  The interesting result here was that the still white glue places took the dye a little darker than the tinted areas of the shirts, so you can kind of see where the design was after the tie-dye.  To me, this is a totally intriguing result and if I were up for doing something with a lot of steps, we might do this process more one day. 

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