Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crafting with my kids: Japanese Dip Dye

Since watching the early images from Japan via CNN in our Mexico hotel room, I have had a heavy heart about the situation.  We have several friends from Japan. Since, my husband is an English teacher (including ESL certified) he has had the opportunity to meet Japanese students almost every year. 

One of the girls' teachers is also Japanese and I was only able to connect with her yesterday. She has been involved with Lily's life since she was one.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I found out her family were alive, albeit not unaffected.  It saddened me to see her pale face, her eyes did not have the same spirit. 

I don't know how to talk to young children about the situation in Japan or tragedy.  My girls don't watch news on television so it's only if they hear what is going on from other sources, including family prayers. I decided I would raise the situation of the earthquake and tsunami (not ready to address the nuclear situation) and pick out a Japanese-inspired project .

You will recall that my dad keeps his eye out for vintage craft books. This 1975 Sunset Crafts for Children is one of my favourites.

In the paper craft section, the book features a Japanese dip dye project. Basically, you fold an absorbent paper (we used rice paper, paper towel is also suggested) into fan like folds and dip into watercolour paint, unfold, let dry and enjoy the tie-dye effects.  I did find the rice paper we used -while super absorbent- became very thin and tore slightly when we unfolded it.  I think a more substantial absorbent paper would work better for younger children.

They were so excited to see their pretty papers the next morning.  They were also very complimentary of each other's project because they looked very different.  I think it is the first time I noticed them being so encouraging of each other's work. 

 I was about 5 or 6 when the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes was published and I recall very clearly the first person who introduced me to that book and origami paper folding. I am hoping that my girls will remember our dip dye activity and discussion for along time.

This post is linked to Childmade


  1. Every time I look at Josie, I can't help but think of Japan. Emma is old enough to understand the devastation, but Josie just knows we are saying prayers for people of Japan. I'm definitely doing this craft with my girls this weekend. I promise to link back to your blog.

  2. KJ you are doing such a fabulous job with your children!! Love the project as an introductory activity for a deep and meaningful conversation!
    I am sure they will remember it for a long time!
    P.S. That book is a true jewel! I wonder how many of these are you treasuring at home??!!!

  3. I discussed Japan with my older children a few times. I love that you found a way to help your little ones connect with Japan in a positive way.

  4. I love that you used a project to talk with your daughters about what has happened in Japan. I had talked to my oldest about the earthquake in Haiti, so she kind of understood when we talked about Japan. It's so hard to teach children the magnitude of tragedy without terrifying them. Your idea is just wonderful.

  5. Great idea KJ! Your papers are so lovely too, and those old craft books which I also collect when a have a few extra pennies, are a gold mine of ideas.

    We've also had many a discussion of the Japan catastrophe with our son who's 7. You can tell he's trying to get a grasp on what it means, the scope of the event, and is struggling to do so. He's asked a few times since it happened if WE were going to have an earthquake and tsunami. It has scared him.

  6. Love this project! I just submitted it to Crafty Crow. Hope that's okay.

  7. Thank you everyone for the kind feedback. Zakka Life, that's very kind.

  8. Just came across your site looking for this old craft book - I think I had this in my childhood! Does the book have the tin can luminaries? If so it's the book I remember! Love it.

  9. Catviccer - that is the very same book! It's a wonderful treasure, thank you for taking the time to comment!

  10. Neat craft! Bookmarked it for later use!

  11. We pray about it too...we explained it to the girls and they pray for the Japanese (and all the people in Egypt)...I think if kids have an avenue for compassion such as prayer or some sort of giving project they can cope with more than we realize.

    This paper is so cool...wonder about papers - have to think about what I've got...

    BTW here is a hint for you...when you decide how to use the papers, if you wish them to be flat and smooth iron them. I ironed the marbleized papers and the painted flowers on the project that you commented on. If you are concerned about the surface of your iron, place a piece of parchment paper over the paper you are ironing.

    I've never seen either the Proclaimers or the Chieftans in concert you are lucky!!


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