Kids Museum: Paint the nature with dye






Shanghai Textiles Museum


Shanghai Citizen Lifelong Learning Art and Culture Centre, Shanghai Citizen Life-Long Learning Science Education Centre

Tie Dye Workshop

Participant: 20 families at most (one parent and one child)
Date: Saturday, September 26, 2020
Time: 13:30-15:00
Venue: Multimedia Hall (1F), Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum
Transportation tip: Exit 3, Wenshui Road Station, Line 1


Notice:For public health security, please make a real-name preservation and bring your ID for admission of the event. Please wait in line to get your temperature measured, hands sanitized, and information registered with the help of our staff. Please wear a face mask during the event. If you are experiencing a fever, coughing, or short breath, please understand that admission is not granted.

About Workshop

The Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) Notes to Zizhi Tongjian elaborates: “Xie is to twist the fabric and tie it with thread, then untie after dyeing. The tied part retains its original color, while the rest is dyed colorfully.”
Historically, Chinese tie dye was known as 扎缬 (zha xié),
绞缬 (jiǎo xié), 夹缬 (jiá xié) and 染缬 (rǎn xié). The unique traditional craft applies natural dye: the lonicera solution of polygonum and mugwort, etc. The color of this dye—blue with a bit purple—has been the oldest pigment known to humankind. Before dyeing, the fabric is tied so as to be partly colored. Aside from tying, sewing, folding, twisting, clamping and pressing are also methods applied before dyeing.


The earliest tie dye artifacts appeared approximately in the Wei and Jin Dynasties (220-420). Kaleidoscopic patterns such as butterflies, chimonanthus praecox, malus spectabilis have appeared at that time, along with the more complex pattern such as 鱼子缬fish egg tie-dye, 玛瑙缬agate tie-dye, and 鹿胎缬deer placenta tie-dye, etc.  During the Southern and Northern dynasties (420-589), 1,500 years ago, tie dye artifacts were widely used as female’s clothing. Tang Dynasty witnessed the peak of Chinese traditional culture, as well as the popularity of jiaoxie artifacts. “Clothes and dresses made with xie in blue and green” became the basic fashion of Tang Dynasty. The handmade tie dye has become simple but not plain. Each process of tie dye is linked to the next. Before the fabric is untied, you will never know the ultimate result of your work. Therefore, tie dye is charming with plenty of space for imagination and handmade improvisation spirit, which is unattainable by printing machines.

Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum features Shanghai Textiles Museum to cohost this workshop, where the history of tie dye will be introduced, and participants will have the opportunity to make their own tie dye artifacts. This would be a fun afternoon for the kids to explore the unique tradition while applying their imagination. It would also be a fantastic experience blended with the cultural, lively, artistic tradition.

Tie Dye Process
  1. Prep the dye. Mix up clear water, dye, fixative, and reducing agent. Blend them until the mixture become yellowish green or dark green.
  2. Bind the fabric. Use rubber bands to tie the fabric 7-8 times so as to get a complete pattern. Soak the tied fabric into water until it’s all wet. Take it out, squeeze the water out before put it into the dye.
  3. Take out the fabric and wait until it turns blue. Untie the fabric, rinse, and dry it.
  4. You have made a tie dye!