MakerSpace Madness: Mod-A-Tee @ Your Library – Fun with T-Shirts
Like most teen services/ya librarians, I’m heavy in the midst of planning my teen summer reading programming. This will be the second year of planning that incorporates our Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH) and we know based on our experience from last year that our current model works pretty well.
This year, we are going to do some thematic making in our Teen MakerSpace involving t-shirts. I was going to call it T-Shirt Tuesdays because I like alliteration, but the reality is that we have the most staff on Mondays, so now we are calling it Mod-A-Tee Mondays, as in modify a t-shirt. I will probably get bonus points if I mention that our Assistant Director came up with the name after I discussed my staffing concerns.
We chose t-shirts because we know that we work in a lower-income area where food and clothing can be a challenge for our teens so we wanted to teach our teens how they could easily make and modify t-shirts to engage in creative, self-expression at low or no cost to them. Later this year we will be doing a series of Make it in the Kitchen programs to address some of the food issues (more on that in a later series of posts). Blank t-shirts can be purchased pretty cheaply and used t-shirts can be purchased for next to nothing at a thrift store; both can be modified in a variety of ways to make not only new clothing, but things like pillows, book bags, and accessories.
Because our Teen Summer Reading Challenge lasts for 6 weeks, we scoured, researched and tested a variety of ways to modify t-shirts and came up with the 6 that worked the best for us in our space and within our budget. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing those ways with you, telling you what worked, what didn’t, and what I learned. As always, I did a lot of testing at home as well. In fact, the idea for doing t-shirts came as we began making t-shirts and tote bags in my home with the teens that come in and out of our house. After seeing how much they loved both the process and the results, I knew this would be a successful activity for our Teen MakerSpace.
Week 1: Sharpie Tye-Dye
My assistant director also has really been a proponent of trying to do tye dye with our teens for quite a while. Being the mom to teens who has done tie dye several times at home, I am not a big fan of doing traditional tye-dye in the library (yes, not even outside) because of the amount of color and wet that it involves. But I have successfully done Sharpie tye-dye several times so we will be doing that. I will admit that it doesn’t have the long lasting staying power of traditional tye-dye, but teens enjoy it and I feel that it is a good, library friendly approach. You can find information on how to do Sharpie tie-dye here: TYE-DYE Made With Sharpies – Instructables.
For my example t-shirt, I used a template and Sharpies to make a small tye-dyed phrase on my t-shirt. You then spritz it with rubbing alchohol to make it “bleed” and give it that tye-dye effect.
Several teens helped us make sample t-shirts and test our processes and they gave it a solid thumbs up.
Week 2: Screen Printing
I desperately wanted to do traditional screen printing in my Teen MakerSpace, I thought the teens would enjoy it and I wanted to learn how to do it as well. We even went and visited a local screen printing shop to learn more about the process. It turns out that we don’t really have the space or budget needed to make screen printing one of our stations as we had hoped. But there ARE a few creative ways that you can teach teens to do low tech, low cost screen printing(ish). We’ll be talking about those soon.
Week 3: Puff Paint
And yes, you read that right, we are in fact doing some good old fashion puff painting of t-shirts. We have found that teens love a lot of traditional arts and crafts AND that they love anything retro.
We’ll talk about weeks 4, 5 and 6 soon. Wednesday, I’m going to talk low cost, low tech screen printing.
Filed under: Makerspace
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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