Acrylic Sunprint T-Shirts

Acrylic Sunprint T-Shirts

Make printed T-shirts powered by the sun! Paint your shirt and place objects on (while it is still wet!) The sun heats up the parts of the T-shirt that are uncovered, but not the parts that are blocked by the objects.When water gets hot, it starts to evaporate, turning from a liquid to a gas. The paint starts to dry, and the water starts to evaporate on the uncovered parts, but under the blocks, it stays wet. As the water evaporates from the T-shirt, water and paint from under the blocks moves out into the dry areas, like how the dry edge of a paper towel picks up spilled juice (or some other image). Eventually, all the paint gets drawn out from under the blocks, leaving you with unpainted shapes on a painted background. 

This project is best on a hot sunny day with little wind. To get the sharpest prints, use objects that lie flat around their edges.

5 - 16
Est. Time:
<30 mins

How we did it:

Materials List

  1. cardboard square (1)
  2. plastic wrap
  3. white 100% cotton fabric t-shirts
  4. water
  5. acrylic craft paints in dark colors
  6. paint brushes
  7. plastic shapes, letters, and other flat objects
  1. Step 1:

    Gather your materials.

  2. Step 2:

    Wrap the cardboard square with plastic and tape the edges down. You will use this to protect your shirt.

  3. Step 3:

    Dunk theT-shirt in water to soak. Gently squeeze out just enough water so that it no longer drips.

  4. Step 4:

    Lay the damp shirt out on a flat work surface and insert the plastic-wrapped cardboard into the shirt. 

  5. Step 5:

    For each color, mix together equal amounts of paint and water. (We mixed 2 tablespoons of green paint with 2 tablespoons of water.)

  6. Step 6:

     Use your brush to paint the wet fabric, covering the space where you wish your design to appear. 

  7. Step 7:

     Place your objects on the fabric. Press them lightly into the paint. To get a sharp image, make sure the edges make contact with the fabric.

  8. Place your t-shirt out in a bright sunny spot and let the fabric dry completely (this will take several hours). Now comes the fun part ... the peel and reveal! 

  9. Science