Today I had such fun visiting Vivienne's classroom. I brought a heap of kool aid packets, and we dyed play silks. No way would I want a child to drink the stuff, but it does make lovely bright colors. The kids seemed to like the smell of the silks once they were dyed.
It was really fun. I found a few good books about silk worms. One was an excellent overview with lots of photos of silkworms in each of the four stages of their life cycle. The second book was a picture book, The Empress and the Silkworm, which gives the historical context. It was also very interesting. Did you know that to make ten silk blouses, it required over 8,000 silkworms who eat over 350 pounds of mulberry leaves? And silk production was kept a national secret for three thousand years in China! According to legend, The Empress Si - Ling Chi made the discovery, presumably by way of happy accident. In the story, a silkworm pupa dropped from a nearby mulberry bush into her cup of tea, which made the silk strand begin to unravel. She dreamed that night, of a "shimmering yellow robe that flowed the like rivers of heaven," worn by her beloved, the emperor Huang-ti. So she went to work to invented the silk reel and silk loom to create it. Talk about inspired!
Here is the method that I used, and it worked quite well for the class of 16 children. First we soaked the silkies in hot tap water and a splash of vinegar. Then we filled mason jars with hot water, and sprinkled the coloured powders of choice(the kids used 1-2 each, which gave more of a tie dye look - 3 would give a more solid shade) into the water, and stirred with a wooden spoon. Then the children carefully dipped the damp silky down into the dye water. We closed the lids, set the jars in the sun, and let mother nature warm the dye batch until all the color had absorbed into the silkies. This only took a few minutes for some, the red shades seemed to take a bit longer. We removed the silks from the water (now looking clear) and rinsed them out, hanged them in the sun to dry and, voila! A beautiful silky! These have so many uses around our house, a truly favorite item. The last photo is of the silk that I made with some leftover easter egg dye.
with gratitude for billowing, happy colors dancing in the sunshine