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“Sharpie Tie Dye” is a cool and easy idea that really works


Art, Science  


4, 5, 6, 7, 8  

Title – Quick & Easy Tie-Dye
By – Mary Jo Bell
Primary Subject – Art
Secondary Subject – Science
Grade Level – 4-8 

Materials Needed:

  • White or light-colored cotton or cotton-blend t-shirt
  • Sharpie markers
  • Rubber bands
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Eye dropper or syringe


  1. Twist small areas of the shirt and wrap with a rubber band a few times. I suggest you do the front of the shirt first and stretch it over a baking pan or other shallow pan — otherwise the color runs onto the back of the shirt.
  2. Use Sharpie markers to add little dots and dabs of color on the little twisted areas. (A little color goes a LONG way!) Best colors are with related colors… see below.
  3. In a well-ventilated area, add drops of alcohol onto the twisted marker area. The alcohol makes the dye in the marker run together. As soon as the colors have blended together — within a few minutes, take off the rubber bands. Leave the back and front of the shirts separated with the pan until they dry.
  4. Put the shirt in the dryer for 15 minutes on hot to heat set the color and it’s ready to wear!

Color Combinations that go well together:

Reds , oranges , yellows and pinks
Browns , greens , and oranges
Blues , greens , and purples
Blues , reds , and purples

Resource: Science Note:

    This is a good demonstration of solubility and the movement of molecules. Every mother can tell you that Sharpie ink is permanent – those molecules do not dissolve in water — but they are soluble in the rubbing alcohol that carries the ink colors with it as it spreads across the shirt.

E-Mail Mary Jo Bell !

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