In the basement of the Morris Area Public Library Friday afternoon, four tables full of middle-school-age kids worked to turn white T-shirts into colorful works of art.
Two in the middle — one with all boys, the other all girls — displayed two very distinct methods of tie-dying.
The boys’ table was raucous, the T-shirts looking like Kandinsky paintings.
“We’re just splattering them,” said Zach Sater, who had not a single sliver of white left on his previously all-white T-shirt.
The girls’ table, on the other hand, was orderly — each had rolled her T-shirt into a long rope of fabric, which they’d portioned off using rubber bands, and were systematically dying each segment a different color.
“Girls actually take their time,” said Haley Tayse, as she soaked purple dye into the last segment of her shirt.
It was one of many events of Liberty Days Friday in downtown Morris, but it was also something of an impromptu sociological experiment.
“It’s messy versus clean,” said Zita Gobbel. “That’s boys for you.”
“It’s a masterpiece,” said Zach Sater, holding up his handiwork.
For Rose Nowak, teen coordinator for the library, it was about more than just the T-shirts.
It fit in with the library’s Reading Program theme, “Reading Through the Ages.”
Recently, the library held a Victorian tea party to kick off the program.
On Friday, it was all about the ’60s.
“Tie-dye has been around for a long time, but it got really big in the ’60s and ’70s,” Nowak said. “It fit in well.”
The 15 or so kids gathered were each given a white T-shirt. Then, the coordinators of the event passed out dyes and plastic bags the kids were to do their dying over.
But, the dying began well before the bags were in front of the eager artists.
Some were more methodical about their dying.
Others, like Joey Mullaney, had a more chaotic style, spreading some dye over the shirt and hoping for the best.
“It ends up what it ends like,” Mullaney said.
The shirts ended up looking pretty cool, regardless of the dying method used, and the library’s basement seemed less caked in dye than one would have expected. All in all, the group got some cool new shirts out of the afternoon.
“As the teen coordinator, I like to do activities I know the kids will find fun,” Nowak said. “They seem to really be enjoying themselves.
“Perhaps a bit too much.”