Bleach Resist T-Shirts and Original Kid Art

My kids are SO CREATIVE, its crazy, really. I’m constantly blown away by their resourcefulness and ingenuity. They find ways to use materials that are not only surprising, but delightful. So I decided to surprise and delight them for a change!

First I pulled from their closets two plain, solid colored t-shirts. I dug around and found some plexi glass, and a small piece of chalkboard chalk that I broke into two, because, well, four and six year olds aren’t famous for their ability to share. ๐Ÿ™‚

DD sketching design on t-shirt with chalk.DS chalking his desing onto t-shirt

We’ve all had bleach mishaps. How many shirts and pants have been relegated to the “weekend wear” because a surprise bloom of bleach spots appeared mysteriously? We’re going to be using bleach in this project, don’t want any surprises!! The plexi glass is the perfect size to slip into the shirts to keep the bleach from bleeding through. Its also a very sturdy surface and was easy for the kids to work on.

Laying Bleach Over Chalk Design

The kids literally sketched with the chalk a design onto the t-shirt. Once the kids were finished with their designs it was time for mom to take over. Beware, bleach pens smell like bleach, and while the fumes were not nearly so noxious as regular bleach, I’d still have a fan blowing or a window open if I were you. The bleach “pen” is actually a tube of gelatinous bleach and so it stays where you put it. I carefully laid a line of bleach gel on all of the chalked lines of the kids’ designs. You don’t have to lay it down super thick, but you definitely want coverage. After I was done going over the outlines on both shirts, we set them aside and went off to do “something else.” About twenty minutes later we returned and the kids were SURPRISED and DELIGHTED to see the shirt was changing colors everywhere there was bleach!!!

See the color changes happening at the edges of the bleach lines... Little harder to see, but the bleach is changing the color of the shirt...

When they realized their designs were becoming a permanent part of their shirts their eyes really started to shine. Like I mentioned, we let it sit for about twenty minutes, but you can let it stand for more or less time depending on the color you want the design to be. For example, with the green shirt, if we’d rinsed it ten minutes earlier my daughter’s fairy would have been yellow instead of white. Darker colors take longer go bleach than lighter colors, so if you want white lines on a black shirt you may have to let it sit for a l-o-n-g time.

We took the shirts to the sink to rinse. Be careful. The gel starts to set and actually flakes off. You don’t want to submerge the shirt and work the bleach out that way, you want to hold the design under running water and slowly flake the gel off.

Our freshly rinsed t-shirts:

We hung them to dry, but you could have just as easily popped them in the dryer.

Hazel proudly showing off "FAIRY" designby Walter, age four






They are so proud of themselves! And my son has worn his shirt three days in a row… ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Crafting!

Materials for this project:

*Bleach Pen

*Solid Color T-Shirts

*Chalkboard Chalk

*Cardboard, chip board, or some other firm surface to put in the shirt as a work surface and to keep the bleach from bleeding through.

*Imagination, creativity, and a smile.

Painting a Tree Mural

I decided a month or so ago that I wanted to redo my daughter’s room. She and I discussed it and decided a painted tree was just what her room needed. I started researching tutorials on mural painting, as I’ve never done it before, and was a little worried because almost every single tutorial directed the use of an overhead projector! I don’t know where to get an overhead projector and didn’t feel like renting one. So, although I’m not an “artist,” I decided to go freehand. Am I crazy? Maybe. Freehanding the outline was an exciting thought. But how to change it as revisions would be inevitable? Then bam, it hit me: CHALK! Its easy to erase from the walls. Plush stuffed toys or dirty clothes are easy to find lying around kiddos rooms, and either one does an amazing job erasing chalk from walls without leaving anything permanent on the object you’re using as an eraser. Its a little hard to see, but there is a chalk sketch of a tree on the wall in this first picture! I want to empower you to attempt your own freehand outline!

I erased and re-sketched quite a bit. Once my outline was done it was time to start painting. I thought about the paint quite a bit. There are a number of different choices out there as far as paint. Ultimately, however, I opted for interior wall paint, as opposed to acrylic craft paint. I thought that with acrylic I’d have to go over the finished mural with some sort of fixative or my kids would slowly chip the paint off the wall! Lowe’s sells these small tubs ofย  “sample” paint for about $6. I picked a brown I liked and had them mix it up for me.

I’d had such success with sketching my outline freehand I decided to attempt painting freehanded as well. Sadly, the walls in my house are textured, not smooth. This means that no matter how gently, no matter how slowly, you drag your paint brush across the wall you’re going to get little “jumps” of paint ruining your straight edge. Here I’ve pictured the side I tried without tape. Not so great. I decided to move to tape before I went too far.

Taping is tedious. It took forEVER to get the entire tree outlined. I used regular, narrow width masking tape and a double wide masking tape. (Mainly because I didn’t have blue painters tape and didn’t feel like going to the store, but also because historically the blue tape hasn’t worked well on my walls.) ***TIP*** I tore the masking tape at an angle to create kind of pointy, tapered tape ends that gradually widened and uesd those narrow pieces for create the forks in the tree trunk.***I painted as I taped, just to give myself a sense of progress, but even with the husband and two older kids out of the house it took me a couple of hours.

Happily, tho, I finished before they got home from swimming. I gave the paint some time to dry before I pulled it off, and voila! One beautiful tree outline.

Now for the leaves. My daughter wanted leaves she could change with the season. No problem, I thought.

I wanted to do something super crafty and cool at first, but really, what’s better than a pad of autumn colored paper, a marker, scissors, and adhesive putty? First I sketched some leaf outlines. The oak leaves would have given a lot of texture to the tree, but my daughter is five. She would have had trouble cutting out leaves with such complexity, so I opted for a smooth, general leaf design. Then it was off to the craft store where scrapbooking embellishments and paper packs were 40% off! I bought a package of autumn colored photo mat sized paper.ย  Its a light card stock and would hold up to our task. I traced the outline of the leaf on a number of cards for my daughter to cut out, but I found it was easier and faster for me to simply fold the card in half and cut freehand (there’s that word again) the leaves. It took a while, there were 81 cards in this particular pack. We chose not to use the white, pink, and purple for leaves, but that still left seventy something potential leaves to be cut. It was fun, tho, and these leaves can be saved and re-used again next fall.

To attach the leaves to the walls we used plain ol’ Scotch brand removable adhesive putty, like you frequently find on school walls, and that’s working fine for us. My daughter LOVED pulling the putty apart, rolling it into the little balls and smooshing the leaves onto the walls. This project is definitely time intensive and a creative process not to be rushed.