Paper Towel Tie-Dye, Any Grade

This is one of my go-to “make and take” projects when classes earn a Free Art Day from gaining 8 stars (for 8 awesome classes). All you need is watercolor sets and a roll of paper towels. The students can cut the paper towels into various shapes and we try different types of folds. Depending on the grade level, I might talk about color relationships, symmetry, patterns, and repetition. To do this, students overfill a watercolor well and dip the folded paper towel corner. Then, they repeat with another color and another corner. We “store” them on manilla paper for the drying rack and then students get to take them home at the end of the day. I have also sewn these into a line of flags for classroom decoration.

When teaching two 6th Grade science classes through art, we did this as an experimental art lesson about absorption and diffusion. They were working on the behavior and properties of water in their curriculum. The students looked at the work of two artist that use absorption and diffusion to create their artwork; Daniel Eatock’s marker bleed prints and Amalia Pica’s flag press prints. Each student received a watercolor set, eye dropper, and brushes. The first make observations about the absorption of color into paper using experimental techniques. We talked about dilution, hue, and concentration in both scientific and artistic ways. Then the students filled the water color cakes and took paper towels to create tie-dye dips. The hue is more intense in the center which allowed us to see the process of high concentration to low concentration.

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