Children's Tie-Dye Workshop

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Late afternoon light settled in the yard of the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants, the shadows of the large green building stretching long and lazy across tables covered in art supplies. A car pulled up in the graveled driveway and three young girls emerged, surveying the scene before them. After grabbing a quick snack inside the Center, they were ready to create.

The girls immediately recognized the day’s craft upon noticing the white t-shirts, dyes, rubber bands, and plastic sheets covering the tables: tie-dye! In order to protect their clothes, Sreyneang from CERI and Leva and Juliet from ARTogether helped the girls cut ponchos out of plastic bags, each creation its own pinnacle of avant-garde fashion. Once protected by the plastic bags, each girl chose the pattern she wanted to replicate. Two decided on the classic multicolored spiral and the third preferred tri-colored vertical stripes. Once the patterns were decided, the girls were ready to begin.

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Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the project was the careful twisting and securing of t-shirts, as the way the shirt is folded determines the pattern of the dyes when they are applied. Once twisted and packaged into spirals using rubber bands, the shirts were ready to be dyed. The girls shared the array of brightly colored dyes, dripping dots of color onto the fabric in adherence to the folds of their designs. While one workshopper applied her colors more freely, another proceeded more slowly and meticulously, taking care that every white spot was covered in the color.


Because of her design, the third workshopper used a tube to roll her shirt, and by slowly adjusting the tube by rolling it vertically along the shirt she applied wide swaths of color in stripes before rubbing the color in. The resulting pattern was vibrant and unique, admired by all involved in the workshop. As for the other designs, due to the way they were wrapped and secured with rubber bands, they could not be unwrapped until the dye had set--a few days after the workshop. Thus, in excited anticipation, the girls packaged their creations in plastic bags to await their unveiling at the next week’s workshop.