activity

Food art doesn’t have to happen on a plate! You can use foods to make colorful works of tie-dyed art.

safety
  • Uses the stovetop
difficulty
  • Beginner
time
  • 2 hours, plus up to 24 hours soaking time

hey curious cook—

Have you heard about our Young Chefs’ Club? Members get a themed (and kid-tested) box delivered each month!

Prepare Ingredients

4 cups
water

Choose 1 of the following:

2 cups
fresh or frozen blueberries (purple/blue dye)
2 tablespoons
ground turmeric (yellow dye)

Gather Equipment

White, 100 percent cotton item, such as a t-shirt or dish towel
Medium saucepan with lid
Rubber bands
Medium bowl or container with tight‑fitting lid
Fine-mesh strainer
Rubber spatula
Tongs
Disposable gloves
Plastic wrap
1
 

Ask an adult to help you wash white cotton item in washing machine (no need to dry it). (Washing fabric before dyeing it removes any coatings, chemicals, or oils, which can affect how well the fabric absorbs the dye.)

 
2
 
4 cups
water
2 cups
fresh or frozen blueberries OR 2 tablespoons ground turmeric

In medium saucepan, combine water and blueberries OR turmeric (but not both!). Bring to boil over high heat. Cover saucepan with lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer mixture for 1 hour (small bubbles should break often across surface of liquid).

 
3
 

While mixture simmers, use rubber bands to create pattern on cloth.

To make spiral pattern:

2up spiral tie dye

Lay cloth on table. Use your hand to pinch fabric at center of cloth. Use your other hand to twist cloth around center in circle to create tight spiral shape. Tightly secure 5 to 7 rubber bands around entire shape.

To make squares pattern:

2up squares tie dye

Fold cloth accordion-style in 1 direction to create long rectangle. Fold rectangle accordion-style in opposite direction to create stacked square. Tightly secure 4 to 5 rubber bands around entire shape in both directions.

To make scrunch pattern:

2up scrunch tie dye

Lay cloth on table. Use your hands to scrunch and crumple cloth into tight circle shape. Tightly secure 5 to 7 rubber bands around entire shape.

 
4
 

When dye mixture is ready, turn off heat. Slide saucepan to cool burner. Let dye mixture cool completely, about 30 minutes. Place medium bowl in sink. Set fine-mesh strainer over bowl. Carefully pour dye mixture into strainer. Use rubber spatula to gently press on any solids in strainer. Discard solids.

 
5
 

Use tongs to carefully place rubber-banded cloth into dye (make sure cloth is completely submerged). Cover bowl and let cloth sit in dye for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. (The longer the cloth is submerged, the more color it will absorb from the dye.)

 
6
 

Wearing disposable gloves, remove cloth from dye and rinse under cold water until water runs clear, squeezing cloth with your hands while rinsing. Use your hands to squeeze out excess water. Undo rubber bands and unravel cloth to reveal your tie-dye creation! Discard rubber bands.

 
7
 

Hang cloth to dry completely, away from direct sunlight. Place piece of plastic wrap on floor underneath cloth to catch any drips.