Be Prepared for Life

Activity Kit Six:
"The World of Work"

Part 2. Small craft manufacture

A series of creative and satisfying projects have been chosen which aim to teach interesting skills and hobbies in the context of a small business operation. In addition, suggestions have been made here which will help to promote a public awareness of the value of natural materials and handwork.

Project 2: Fibre work - weaving

Weaving can be exciting and creative depending on how it is done and what is used to do it. In this project it is recommended that you make wall hangings, place mats or floor mats.


A 60 cm wide wall hanging needs a hanging loom which is quite easy to make and store against a wall or tie into a tree. You will need 2 x one meter beams [5 cm poles] at the top and bottom for attachment of the vertical warp threads and a device to separate the odd and even warp threads [ a heddle] for making horizontal weaving spaces [sheds] through which the horizontal weft threads can be woven. There are many ways of making a heddle but making a heddle board of glued sucker sticks 61 cm wide is what you need. It can also be used as a beater to pack the weft threads down.

The heddle board should make provision for a slot and a centre-drilled sucker stick every centimeter of its width. See illustration. This hanging loom can also be tied to a tree when you prefer to work outside.


Find two substantial 1 meter poles [beams] to give tension to your warp threads and hang the top beam on an inner wall ensuring that it horizontal to the ground. Use a strong tightly spun cotton twine or string for your warp threads. It is recommended that you make the warp threads one and half meters long and tie them at half centimeter intervals along the top beam until you have the required width for your hanging. Thread the warp threads through the heddle board and tie the two end threads to the lower beam to tension the thread ensuring that the lower beam is parallel to the top beam. Now tie the rest of the warp threads at half centimeter intervals working outwards from the centre ensuring that there is even tension on all threads. The bottom beam may need to be loaded with stones to ensure that the whole loom is sufficiently steady to work on.


Find a piece of blocked paper [graph paper], a pencil and ruler. Count the number of vertical warp threads on your loom and overrule them on your blocked paper. Now use colour pencil crayons to plan the weft threads. If you want a design in your weave it needs to be drawn on paper and fixed to to the wall behind your hanging loom so that you know when and where to change coloured weft threads. Be creative at this stage. Plan to weave twigs and grasses into the loom and pull loops out on the front of the work. Beads and seeds can also be threaded onto the weft threads before weaving then in. Adjacent warp threads can be wrapped/lashed together to create open spaces in the hanging. You will be able to experiment as you go along. A book from a your local library will give you some interesting ideas at this stage.


Collect a variety of interesting materials. Here a few that come to mind...

Bright wool, twisted sacking, plastic, twigs, seeds, unspun wool, hand spun woollen yarn, strings, ropes, creeper stems, grasses, reeds, straw, twisted coloured paper, long thin leaves - the more and the brighter the better. All your material should be dry.

Make a shuttle that can be passed through the sheds created by pushing and pulling the heddle board. It could be as simple as a long smooth ruler with a notch cut into the ends. Yarn can be looped around the shuttle making it easier to handle long weft threads.


A team of two of three can work on one hanging together. Its a good idea to weave a 15 cm wide strip of cardboard into the warp against the bottom beam of a hanging loom. It keeps an open space at this lower end. Pushing and pulling the heddle, separate the warp threads opening sheds on the heddle side for the shuttle to be pushed through from side to side. Always insert the shuttle below the heddle board. Weave ten rows of fairly fine weft into your work to form a selvedge edge. Now you have the idea, add some of the interesting weft threads you have collected. Use a large needle to wrap/lash two warp threads together to create pillars and spaces. Be careful not to pull your weft thread tight at the end of the row or you will get an ugly waistline in the middle of your hanging. Keep pressing down the weft threads. You can use the heddle board if you are working in a horizontal fashion and a kitchen fork if your weft is not straight [eg curved or chunky]. If you weave a bamboo rod or stick into the weft as a stretcher near the start and the end of your work, it will form a better wall hanging.


Stop the weaving when you reach a point about 15 centimeters from the top beam. Weave a similar finishing selvedge edge of ten fine rows. Place the whole loom on the ground and cut the warp threads as close to the beams as possible. These loose edges are plaited or tied in tassels as a fringe. If you do not want a top fringe above the included stretcher bar. Tie off adjacent warp threads and weave the loose threads into the edges of the selvedge. The back of the hanging can have a thin cloth stitched onto it by hand to hide the knots and reverse side of the work.


The frame loom is more traditional and useful for making smaller weavings like place mats. It is essentially the same design, with a smaller heddle and a wood frame. Perhaps an old picture frame. You will need to work with a finer warp and weft thread. Say a linen thread and thin reeds interspersed with wool.The work should not need to be backed. If you vary the colours of the warp threads you will get some interesting patterns.


If you have good source of reeds which are being cleared, say bulrushes, then this simple stick loom will enable you to construct a useful reed mat in a hour or two. Ensure that your reeds are all about 1 meter long for a mat one meter wide. Cut four 1,5 meter forked sticks. Push the them into the ground one meter apart. Place two long wooden sticks in the notches as illustrated. Cut five 3,5 meter lengths of strong white string. Tie a small stone to each free end. Tie the centres of all the strings to a single reed. This forms the warp of the loom. Hang the tied reed between the supported sticks. Place another reed on top of the first reed. Toss each stone over the opposite sticks. Every time you place a fresh reed in the growing mat throw the stones across the opposite sticks until the mat is finished. Tie the string ends off and trim the edges straight with a pruning shears if you want straight sides.

Project 3: Fibre work - basketry

Basketry is sculptured weaving without a loom. For this reason it is harder to do as it has a much freer form. Baskets can be made from long thin strips of bark as threads and a variety of natural plant fibres [see below] or use raffia as a binding thread. Ensure that you always have the land owners permission to collect material and be careful not to damage the environment while harvesting.


Season Plant Treatment
Autumn Weeping willow branches Boil for 6 hrs. Peel bark off. Wrap in wet newspaper for 24 hrs.
Wisteria runners Remove leaves, coil and dry for one week
Mealie leaves Dry spread out, store in bags
Vine runners Dry and coil
Wheat and long grass stalks Cut dry
Anytime Honeysuckle vine Use fresh or dry.
Rush / Bulrush Cut green, dry and store in bundles


You will need raffia and dry wheat or long grass stalks and a large needle to use for stitching the raffia.

    1. Start by binding raffia over the last 10 cm of a core of dried grass about 2 cm thick. Work first towards the free end, working back over this binding in the opposite direction.
    2. Coil this bound end end into a tight circle to form the working core of the basket. Stitch through this core circle using the needle threaded with a strand of raffia.
    3. Continue coiling the grass counter clock-wise binding with the raffia and stitching the first row to the center.
    4. There are a variety of stitches which expose more or less of the core.
    5. Keep the thickness of the core regular,adding a new strand of grass every time a piece runs short.
    6. When the raffia runs out weave the free end back under the binding and start a new piece.
    7. The side of the basket can be made by stepping up the coils by pushing with the thumb or working over a mould [a cake tin or a flower pot] to get a particular shape.
    8. To finish the basket let each grass strand run short without replacing it and work the remaining raffia back under the binding.

You can have various effects by using raffia of different colours. Start a different coloured binder as each piece of equal length raffia comes to an end.

Further variations can be found in books in your library. The Reader's Digest book - Crafts and Hobbies is particularly useful for this project.

Project 4: Making speciality books and papers


In Kit 1: Project 2, we made paper at the level of recycling. This project is more sophisticated in that it expands the procedure to include sizing, bleaching and dyeing to produce a creative quality paper of writing or wrapping paper of marketable value.


You will need to make a mould and deckle. Make two wooden frames of 2 cm squared planed meranti, with fitting corners [25 cm x 34 cm]. Cover one side of one frame with nylon screen door netting or wet curtain netting. Pin or staple the netting on the outer side of the frame. This covered frame forms the mould. The uncovered frame forms the deckle. Buy some sheets of Vilene and Felt of a slightly larger size than the deckle.



Use old computer paper or paper towels, or white bond. The cleaner the paper the better. Shred the paper by machine, if possible. If working by hand cut the paper into 2 x 2 cm pieces or smaller. Place in a bucket and cover with boiling water for at least two hours or overnight to soften the fibres. Drain off the water. Make up a soaked paper and water mixture of 3 cups water to 1 cup soaked paper [approximately a handful]. Blend to pulp in an electric blender for 15 to 20 seconds. Store pulp in a plastic bucket. You will probably need to bleach this pulp. If your paper is to be used for ink work or painting see step 8 - Sizing. It is possible to size at this stage to proof the paper against colour bleeding.



Paper can be made from many natural fibres such as...

Bamboo leaves, Vine leaves, Mealie leaves and stalks, Bran, Mulberry leaves, Sugar cane leaves, Wheat stalks, Bulrushes, Eucalptus leaves , Saw dust, Banana leaves, Cotton stalks, and others...

Only the fibres can be used. Clip the raw plants into 2 cm lengths with scissors or shears. Resistant materials can be beaten with a mallet to soften. A household hand operated meat grinder or grater can also be used to shred the material. The smaller the better. The fleshy parts must be removed by boiling in a large enamel cooking pot [no exposed metal please] and stirred with a stick. Add 1 part of plant fibre to 1 part of water and keep topping up. The addition of two or three teaspoons of caustic soda to the full pot will reduce the fleshy parts faster but beware of hands and eyes as it is a corrosive alkali. Alternatively boil for longer. This process should take two or three hours at a simmer heat. The pulp must be drained when cool and washed to remove fleshy materials and corrosive chemicals. If there is still fleshy material in the pulp, boil for a further hour. The fibres are now placed in a blender with water for twenty seconds to reduce to pulp. Store the pulp for a few days in the fridge until you have enough fibre pulp to half fill a bucket.


You can experiment with some inclusions in the paper at this stage, for example - dried flowers, fish skeletons, leaf skeletons, seeds, grasses, fern fronds. Pour a thin layer of thick creamy pulp into a water proof tray of rectangular or round shape. Spread the pulp around. Leave the water to evapourate slowly. Save some of the creamy pulp in a sealed jar. When, after several hours, a tooth pick is able to stand upright in the drying pulp, carefully add your chosen inclusions by gently pressing them into the pulp. If after further drying the paper is thin in parts, spoon more thick pulp onto those areas. It should take between 3 days and 3 weeks to dry out
[it will dry faster in the sun]. Expect paper shrinkage to occur. The finished paper can be framed or hung in front of a light for maximum effect.


If you wish to have a lighter pulp add 125 ml of household bleach [Jik / Milton] to the half bucket of pulp. Soak for a few hours in the bleach solution. Take care not to over-bleach as bleach may weaken the fibres. Once the pulp becomes lighter, pour the pulp into a net bag, draining off the liquid. Place into a half bucket of fresh water to rinse pulp, and drain in the net bag again. All the bleach must be removed by washing.


Use Dylon dyes or powder paint [mixed with water to the consistency of ink, 1 table spoon of paint to 125 ml of water]. Add the pulp to the dye or paint solution. Make several different coloured pulps at this stage. Blues, pinks and mauves are popular colours for paper. By spooning pulp of different colours into the deckle [see step 6 below] variegated colour paper can be obtained.


You will need a baby bath and your deckle and mould at this stage. Take 2 liters of pulp and dilute in 20 litres of water in the bath. Stir up the pulp with your hand, and allow to settle. Wet the deckle by dropping it onto the water surface. Immerse the mould and deckle [see illustration] to horizontal, deep position gathering pulp on the deckle. Lift gentle out of water. Tilt slightly while shaking from side to side over the basin to disperse the fibres evenly. Drain over the bath for 15 seconds and carefully remove deckle. Top up the bath with more pulp after every 3 or 4 sheets of paper are made.



You will need a smooth surface such as a sheet of glass, Formica or Perspex and a square sponge. Place the mould, with the wet paper on it, face down on the smooth surface. Dry the back of the mould with the sponge, removing the excess water and lift the mould carefully off the paper. Leave the paper on the smooth surface to dry and peel off with a knife.


Place the mould with the paper face down on a sheet of wet Vilene on wet felt and dry the back of the mould off with the sponge as before. Hang up the Vilene with the transferred paper to dry. Peel the dry paper off and store unless you plan to size the paper.


Unsized paper is ideal for lino and other printing but if paper is to be written on with ink or painted, it needs to be sized to prevent "thread bleeding". Dissolve 4,5 ml gelatine in 250 ml of boiling water. Without removing the dry paper from the Vilene, paint the paper with the gelatine solution using a wide brush. Allow to dry again and peel free with a knife. If the gelatine starts to set before you are finished, heat it up again. Another method of sizing paper is to spray the dry paper with Scotchguard. Alternatively add starch or wall paper glue to the pulp stage [See step 2 or 5]


Use lacquer-based or oil-based paints. Fill a shallow metal tray [an old baking sheet] with water. Mix oil based paint with Turpentine. A quarter teaspoon of paint to a teaspoon of Turps. Use strong colours - blue, red and green are popular. Allow a few drops of different coloured paint to fall on the water. Once they have spread about use a stick to form any swirls or patterns you like. Lower a sheet of paper onto the water surface so that all parts of the paper make contact. [Experiment with ordinary paper before using your handmade sized papers.] The paint is now transferred to the paper surface. Pick the paper up and allow to dry unless you want another dip in different marbling paint on the same sheet. Once the paper has dried press flat or iron flat again.


A speciality paper can be made without manufacturing the paper itself. While any clean white paper will work, the best results for beginners are obtained with soft white absorbent papers, eg. tissues, paper towelling. The papers can be folded or crumpled anyway and tied with soft string, natural raffia or nylon stocking strips. Use the dyes recommended for paper dyeing above. Dilute commercial dye in 500 ml of boiling water adding two teaspoons of salt. Dip into cold dye for between 5 and 20 seconds or apply dye with a brush. Leave paper tied until dry, draining on a cake rack over a tray to catch the excess dye which can be used again. When dry, open carefully and smooth by hand. Use a warm iron, set to silk setting, to finish the smoothing.


The paper edges can be guillotined off or left natural. They may be sold in handmade cardboard boxes, covered with attractive paper as writing paper, used to print or write greeting cards, uses as book covers, framed as novelty papers or bound into personal diaries and notebooks, or even made into lamp shades or screens.


Some books just beg to be written in. Fortunately these special paper books are not generally available in shops and this gives your own handmade paper book some special sales advantages.


  1. Decide on the size of your pages. If your sheets are 25 x 34 cm large then you can bind this size with staples [or sewing, see below] along either the short or the long edge to form a sketch book [sized paper] or a scrapbook [unsized paper]. Alternatively by folding the paper once along the long edge you could form a centre sewn book of any thickness. By cutting along this centre fold a handy note book or diary size is produced.
  2. If your book is to be folded and sewn do not use more than twenty pages or the centre pages will bulge out of the book. Rather use several small booklets inside one cover to avoid this.
  3. To sew a folded book of twenty pages, center fold ten pages carefully, open, and place over a plank. Use a hammer and thin nails to punch 5 or more nails evenly spaced along the fold. Use a thin braided nylon cord or similar string and thread a needle. When you have made the covers [see below] remove the nails and sew the pages together [see illustration] going through the cover spine as well. You may have two or three booklets like this in one cover.


Hard or even soft covers improve the quality of your book enormously. This is where your marbled and tie dyed paper comes into its own.
  1. Choose a stiff cardboard and cut two pieces slightly larger than your pages. Cut your decorative paper 2 cm larger than the cover. Cut off the corners. Paste the paper to the cover and wrap over the edges. Paste a sheet of white paper over the exposed cardboard on the inside.
  2. Leave a space between the two covers for the pages. Use a strip of adhesive cloth or a strip of strong cloth such as linen or cotton, and paste a good strong glue [cold glue] onto one surface. Wrap the ends inside the cover.
  3. Sew the pages into the covers when the glue is properly dried. You may want to glue a second cardboard backed binder strip over the first to hide the external stitching.


Make up one or two sample books as holiday journals, photo albums, note books and perhaps a personalised story book. Have these on display when you sell your books. Protect your books inside clear plastic bags so that they are covered but can be removed to look at the paper quality.

Project 5: Paper Mache sculpture

Paper mache can, if properly done, add a lot of value to newspaper and provide hours of fun and quality products. It all depends on the fine finishing quality that is never achieved at school. Paper mache products should not look as if they were made of paper! The best results are obtained when mache is worked over a good construction of paper to improve the surface finish.


Make your own glue first...
Mix flour and water to the consistency of milk and heat until it thickens. A few drops of oil of cloves should be added as a preservative.

Inflate a balloon and paste thin newspaper strips completely over it. After the second layer, use brown paper strips for the third layer, and a final fourth layer of news paper strips. Allow to dry in a warm place. Make a cardboard ring and cone with a piece of masking tape. Cut off the tip of the cone and attach with four layers of pasted paper strips to the two ends. Allow to dry completely. Use a sharp art knife to cut out the centre of the cone end to form the vase opening. The balloon will burst and can be removed. Reinforce this lip with pasted paper strips.


This is similar to Project 4 in this kit, step 2 but not the same. We use newspapers! You will need in addition the following ingredients...

Quantities per 4 double newspaper sheets [16 pages].

- 2 tablespoons of whiting [calcium carbonate] *
- 2 table spoons of white cold glue *
- 1 table spoon of linseed oil *
- 2 table spoons of wheat paste flour
- 2 drops of oil of cloves or oil of wintergreen [buy at a chemist].

Calculate your needed quantities and increase the ingredients marked with an asterisk by 20% to allow for making gesso [See Step 2]. The glue and flour paste serve as binders. Whiting acts as a filler improving colour and density. Linseed oil makes the mash easier to work with. Oil of cloves prevents the paper pulp from going sour.

Shred the paper by machine, if possible. If working by hand cut or tear the paper into 2 x 2 cm pieces or smaller. Place in a bucket and cover with boiling water for at least two hours or overnight to soften the fibres. Boil the paper in its water for twenty minutes to separate fibres or blend to pulp in an electric blender for 15 to 20 seconds. No harm will come to the blender if plenty of water is used. Pour the pulp through a strainer to separate the water. The lump should now be capable of being worked by hand into a ball. Don't squeeze too much water out or it may become unworkable. Mix in all the ingredients according to the quantity of paper you shredded to make it. If the mash is too watery add more wheat paste flour to take up the water.


Apply the mash with a wet teaspoon, spreading it thinly over the surface and filling up all the cracks and irregularities. Mould it with wet fingers where the teaspoon is not adequate to the task. You may wish to smooth the inside as well if your hand can fit into the vase neck. Allow the mash plenty of time to dry out.

Use sandpaper, Surf-form tools or a rasp to smooth away irregularities that remain. When dry and smooth the surface should look like porous unglazed china.

You will need some gesso to finish this surface.

How to make gesso... Sprinkle two tablespoons of whiting into a container of water and allow to settle. Don't stir! Decant off the excess water after several minutes. Add one table spoon of white glue [wood glue] and one teaspoon of linseed oil and stir thoroughly. The mixture should look like thick cream. If it is too thin, sprinkle in more whiting and stir.

The final finishing coat of gesso can now be brushed onto the surface to seal the pores and produce a hard white surface. Leave overnight to dry.


The surface can be painted, potato printed, glued and string decorated [and resurfacing with gesso] or have pictures pasted onto it before lacquering the surface. Try sponge painting for a textured colour effect. Good effects can be obtained with metal aerosols [bronze or copper] and rubbing over with black stove polish to age before, final clear lacquering. This your chance to be creative.


The final product should not look as if paper was used at all. Such a vase could be used for dried flower arrangements if weighted with white sand.


Other shapes may be made by coating a bowl with a sheet of damp newspaper and repeating step 1 above. When dry the bowl is removed before continuing to steps 2 and 3. Alternatively if the bowl is coated with a thin layer of petroleum jelly first, you can mould the paper mache to it directly without any prior construction. Fruit bowls, jewelry boxes, light weight ornament shelves and any cardboard / paper construction can be fashioned out of this high quality paper mache. Using these light weight construction techniques you could be in a good position to sub contract for modelling stage props [masks and furniture], paper frames for pictures or even manufacture the heads of glove puppets.


Fish are a wonderful source of protein food in a hungry world. If there is a clean supply of stream water nearby you could build a few small ponds which would provide two or three kilograms of fish for a family each week throughout the year. Some Africans have been culturally reluctant to eat fish but with rising food prices this important source of food could help feed millions of people.

Project 6: Plaster casting

Techniques of plaster casting can be used to produce attractive wall tiles which can mounted on internal or external walls [if waterproofed]. The materials are relatively inexpensive and focus on nature as a theme to promote an enhanced awareness of natural forms. It is a sure method for which no special giftedness is necessary. Remember these tiles do not have to be large and expensive to be attractive and desirable.


You will need...
Modelling clay, such as potters use, stored in plastic in an air tight tub or small bucket. Buy a few kilograms from an art shop.
Some wooden frames fixed at the corners with wing nuts.
Petroleum jelly, mixing bowls, an empty wine bottle.
High grade dental Plaster of Paris [Calcium sulphate] A pair of pliers and flexible thin wire.


Soften the clay by working with your hands. Use the bottle to roll a slab of clay slightly larger than the size of your frame. Use your fingers and the roller to impress natural objects into the surface of the clay, for example... Leaves, twigs, flowers, ferns, feathers, shells, bones, pebbles, wood, cork, fossils, cork, bark, seeds, pips, cones.

Some other inclusions can also be interesting especially if you use them to tell a story...

Rope, bottle tops, hands, feet, keys, pegs, badges, nuts, bolts, screws, hessian, canvas, polystyrene, creased foil, knotted string, beads.

Use the roller to help impress some forms. Alternatively carry the sheet of clay to an object too large to move and make an impression...

Rock or brick surfaces, manhole covers, bark on the trunk of a tree, memorial plaque, coat of arms, tyre tread, etc.

You can build up a layer of impressions, by placing the smaller object on the clay first and covering then with larger surfaces, eg hessian, for a second impression. When you peel the objects off the clay you will be ready to use this as an impression mould. Experiment to get the most pleasing effects. For example, if you want a small raised plaster frame around the edge of each tile, remember to press small strips of squared wood inside the edges of the moulding frame [See Step 2].


Grease the inside edge of the frame with a thin layer of petroleum jelly. Press the frame firmly onto the surface of the clay to retain the plaster in position while setting. Mix the plaster by sprinkling it onto water in the mixing bowl. You can mix it with a stick or your hand if it is lumpy, keep adding plaster until it has the consistency of smooth condensed milk. Pour the plaster into the mould. The tile should be a minimum of 2,5 cm thick.

Thump the table with your fist to agitate the plaster allowing it to settle into all the corners. Insert a twisted loop of wire in the back of the plaster as it sets to provide a loop to hang the tile. The plaster should be left for at least an hour to set hard. Wash out the bowls immediately after pouring the plaster in a drum of water kept for this purpose. Do not wash plaster lumps down the drains!

Clean all plaster out of the clay mould, sprinkle some water on it, roll and work soft with your hands, before placing in a plastic bag in the air sealed bucket. Used like this it can last indefinitely, and can be water softened.


Do not leave the plaster overnight to set as the clay will also dry and become very difficult to separate.

Lift up the tile and carefully peel away the clay. If necessary wash the surface of the tile to remove any traces of clay. Loosen the wing nuts and remove the frame. Allow the tile to dry out properly for at least a week before attempting to hang it up.


The plaster can be tinted at the mixing stage by adding dry powder paints or oxides obtained from a hardware shop. Alternatively the surface can be painted using a brush to colour wash the background and highlight the raised portions. Metalic sprays coated with black oven polish can be buffed by hand with a soft cloth to make metal impression look like metal. If the surface is painted with a layer of glue the tile can be dusted with sand, budgie seed, shell grit, metal powder or any other fine material.


All tiles should be sealed. Here are few sealers...
Size, white shellac solution, artists fixative spray, lacquers, oil paint, PVA, fibre glass resin [this is particularly useful if the tile is to be exposed to hard wear or stand outdoors. It can be decorated and lacquered as in the previous step after resin coating.


The finished tiles can be hung individually like pictures, collectively as wall hangings or mounted on hessian covered boards. Holes in tiles for leather or rope lacing can be drilled once the tile is dry. Alternatively insert fine dowels greased with petroleum jelly in the clay mould at the corners and allow them to protrude above the level of the setting plaster when casting. Twist them free once the tile has set. If a series of tiles has been caste to depict a larger surface they should be displayed as a group.

Project 7: Tie Dye T-shirts and Vests

Some of the most amazing and desirable patterns can made from tie-dyed natural fabrics. You can either work with factory purchased white cotton T-shirts and vests or prepare a pattern of your own which can be machine sewn into a shirt afterwards. You could market tie-dyed cloth which your customers could make up as garments for themselves.


Use white linen or cotton fabric. Wash the cloth to remove any sizing. It is recommended that you use commercial dyes, as natural dies are generally not so colourful or as predictable. In addition, because you would need equal quantities of crushed plant matter and cloth, this method is not recommended as your environment would soon suffer under commercial manufacturing pressure.


Hot water chemical dyes [Dylon] will greatly reduce the dyeing time required. Follow the instructions on the packet. Use rubber gloves! Remember to start with a light under colour and work to darker over colours. The following colour combinations are popular...
White Green / Purple / Blue
Yellow Blue / Red /Orange/Brown/Black
Any darker colour diluted. Same shade concentrated


Assuming that you have already dyed the under colour into the fabric and rinsed and dried it or that you wish the under colour to be white....

Your cloth needs to be bound, knotted, folded, tied and even sewn in a variety of ways to produce lovely geometric designs. Here there is no substitute for experimenting with small patches torn from an old white sheet. Corners can be knotted, twists of cloth lashed with string, pin point lashing made around a needle, fabric folded before knotting and lashing [see illustration]. The thickness of the string will also effect the design.

The cloth is now dipped in the dye for between 5 and 30 minutes. A common mistake is over-dyeing. The fabric can be dyed in part [see tritik design] or as a whole.


This technique produces a recognisable pattern in the T-shirt such as a butterfly, fleur-de-lis or a sun.
  1. Sketch the design shape onto the cloth with a charcoal stick. Use a needle and doubled thread to stitch a running thread along the outline from one end to the other.
  2. When the stitching is complete gather the fabric along the thread like a draw string. Knot the ends together making sure the whole design is on one side of the draw thread. Tie a light chord around the thread line several times.
  3. Dip the separated "puff" into the dye for 5 minutes. Now over lash the dyed puff to the end.
  4. Now dye in the same way, any other knotted or lashed sections by bunching them together. Tie off the bunch with chord and dip into the dye for five minutes while holding the initial dyed design [step 3] out of the dye.
  5. Change to your second colour dye. Holding the second dyed bunch [step 4] out of the dye, immerse all the rest of the fabric long enough to produce a colour contrast when rinsed.


Rinse the fabric in cool water. Remove the lashings and slip knots. Rinse lightly again. Allow to dry and iron smooth. Cover the fabric with a paper towel for the first ironing, in case some dye has not yet completely fixed to the fabric.

Project 8: Something else (a last resort)

If none of the preceding projects appeals to your group and you have worked through the index at the back of this kit and are still at a loss for a project, consider some of the following projects which include ideas that have proved popular with Scouts and Cubs and young people elsewhere. No details can be given for these projects in this kit, beyond these starter ideas.


    There are always elderly people who cannot afford the expense of a garden service, yet need their lawns mowed, weeding, hedge clipping and leaf sweeping on a regular basis. Why not survey your neighbourhood. Distribute a flyer to them inviting them to contact your patrol to negotiate a special individual contract at a price they cannot refuse.


    A similar service to the shut in's can take the form of a flower box servicing programme where registered flower boxes are supplied, maintained and exchanged over long periods for a minimal fee. A local nursery might be prepared to provide special rates or you could start your own back yard flower box nursery.


    Shade houses do not have to be vast structures and plant propagation does not means buying new plants. You could approach your neighbourhood for slips and seeds to get started. Most gardeners have heaps of old pots and seed trays that they don't know what to do with them. Many types of egg boxes can be used as seed trays. Plastic bottle germination domes greatly accelerate the growth of seedlings Kit 2: Project 6.


    Birds can be encouraged to your local gardens by simple feeding shelves, breeding boxes and food containers. If marketed and sited in the best places with instructions for bird feeding, you could effectively increase the bird population in your area and reduce some unwanted caterpillars at the same time.


    Where gully and bank erosion is a problem, unprotected banks can be stabilised by covering them with earth jute [open weave hessian] and rubber tyres bolted together. Trees can be planted through the earth jute and tyre framework.


    Scout culture is essentially a wood culture. Some lovely toys can be hand carved or sawn with a coping saw out of pine and old branches. If this appeals to you, visit your local library for a book...
    GUIDE TO MAKING WOODEN TOYS THAT MOVE by Alan and Gill Bridgewater Argus Books. London 1986, is one of many suitable books with full details inside them.

Part Three: A large project - building a small structure

© Copyright 1991 - 1994
Dr Frank Opie for the South African Scout Association