Camp Tie Dye Crafts Forever

Tie Dyeing Shirt Camp Craft Activity
Making Tie Dye T-Shirts

It just wouldn’t be camp without a new tie dye t-shirt! In one of our camp craft activities called “Hodge Podge” we learn how to make the coolest shirts by folding, twisting and binding plain white t-shirts with rubber bands (lots!). The goal is to get creative with the patterns you make crinkling the shirt. Make art by being messy! Maybe a fan shape, a spiral, or a bullseye would work. Then with squirt bottles of different color dyes, you add colors to certain spots for even more variety. It pays to think about which colors are next to each other since the dyes soak in and blend a bit on the shirt. After leaving the shirts overnight, it’s so much fun to unwrap them and see how your design worked out. You can imagine that camp girls gather quite a collection of shirts over the years!

Want more info about tie dyeing as a camp craft activity? Here’s a “how to tie dye” page.

Summer Pottery Program

Summer Pottery Arts Program

The Rockbrook pottery program continues to be a very popular activity at camp.  Both  pottery studios always seem to be humming— girls sculpting, pressing or decorating something, and instructors zipping around to give pointers, prepare materials, or plan a kiln firing. All this action means that there are some pretty cool things being made too! There are multi-colored tiles, sculpted miniature animals, giant coil pots (like the one in this photo), and delicate wheel-thrown cups and bowls.

One really cool project is to take a smooth flat slab of clay and press natural forms into it so that they leave intricate textures. Little twigs, leaves, and tree bark, for example, all leave amazing patterns. You can then use the slab to make a vase or some other vessel.

It’s easy to see why the Rockbrook summer arts program is so well loved.  There’s almost an endless variety of pottery projects to make, great satisfaction seeing how they turn out when glazed and fired, and the fun of being with your friends throughout.

How to Make Wheel-Thrown Ceramics

wheel-thrown ceramics at camp

“Can you learn how to use the potter’s wheel?”

Yes, you can! The Rockbrook ceramics camp activities let campers improve their pottery skills so they can learn to throw pots on the wheel.  After practicing other ceramics techniques, specifically hand-building methods like pinch, coil and slab pottery, it’s exciting to learn about the potter’s wheel. 

Like any skill, this takes practice, but to get started you’ll work on 4 key steps:

  1. Centering the clay on the wheel.
  2. Opening up the center of the clay.
  3. Pulling up the walls and shaping the piece.
  4. Trimming the base of the piece.

Of course there’s lots of detail to each of these steps, but this brief outline gives you a sense of what’s involved in learning to throw ceramics on the potter’s wheel. Real art! Over a few weeks at camp, you’ll be surprised how good you can get and be amazed at the cool things you can make.  Maybe next summer, you can finish a whole set of matching mugs!

P.S. If you want to read more about it, check out the book Wheel-Thrown Ceramics, by our friend Don Davis.  It’s the best one around.

Learn to Knit at Camp

crafts with girls knitting

Can I learn how to knit at camp?

You sure can!  In fact, knitting has become one of the crafts at camp girls are really enjoying.  You might think it’s old fashioned or something that only your grandmother would do, but knitting is really cool!  And it’s not that hard to learn.  With some basic pointers and a little practice you’ll be able to make a simple scarf, or even something more difficult like a hat.

The younger girls particularly like using the “Nifty Knitters.”  These are special round, handheld looms that make knitting tubes really easy (there’s one on the shelf in the background in the photo).  They are a fun way to see how knitting works and to make quick progress on a project before moving on to using knitting needles.

Knitting is one of those great crafts girls can easily do at home.  It can easily become a life-long activity to enjoy for years to come.

Fun Arts and Crafts

Arts and Crafts Activities

Here is one of the arts and crafts activities the girls enjoyed this summer at camp.

Can you tell what it is?  Pine cones tied to a branch with string— it’s a mobile.  What’s fun is using different sized pine cones and then arranging them with different lengths of string.  When the stick has more than one branching part, even better!  This kind of craft activities is really like making a sculpture.  It’s putting three-dimensional objects together to end up with some cool art. One girl turned her mobile into a bird feeder by adding some peanut butter and birdseed to the pine cones. Functional art too!  Arts and crafts are always fun at camp.

Take a look!

Tie Dyes are Always in Fashion!

Camps Craft Tie Dye

One craft at summer camps like Rockbrook that’s always popular is making a tie dye t-shirt. It’s certainly a classic thing to do, and while you might think of swirls and colors on shirts from the 1970s, tying and dyeing cloth is common all over the world. For example, there is adire tie dyeing in Nigeria (Africa), shibori dyeing in Japan, and mudmee dyeing in Thailand, just to name a few.

In the Rockbrook craft activity called “Hodge Podge,” the girls use rubber bands to tie up the cloth. Folding, twisting, bunching, pinching, and wrinkling the material you make all sorts of different patterns. Then with the rubber bands, you keep everything tight. The tighter the fold, the more resistant to the dye that part will be. That’s part of the creativity involved— deciding what to make tight (resisting the dye) and what to leave loose (taking on the color of the dye). Plus, there’s the fun of picking what colors to use, and in what areas. With so much variation, it’s neat to see how each shirt turns out different.

Knitting Camp Girls

knitting camp girl wearing a hat she made

“Like your hat Maddie.”

Knitting! It’s just one of the fiber arts activities available at Rockbrook each and every camp session.

With so many arts and crafts opportunities, you get to make some pretty cool stuff when you come to camp… like this hat for instance. Maddie knitted it when she first got to camp last summer, and from then on was rarely seen without it. A camp arts project that she used every single day!

It’s true; knitting has become an increasingly popular activity at camp. The Rockbrook girls are learning that it isn’t all that difficult (once you master the basic stitches!) to knit, is really a lot of fun, and is so satisfying when you see what you’ve made. Some girls describe the feeling of it, the process of twisting, looping and tying yarn in patterns of knots, to be relaxing, even meditative.

It’s the kind of thing that can become addicting.  As soon as you finish one project, it’s easy and exciting to imagine and start another.  In the long run knitting can then continue after camp at Home. It can become a life-long hobby!

P.S. That’s Looking Glass Falls in the background.

Pottery — A craft tradition for girls at Rockbrook

Girls Crafts and Ceramics Camp

One of the many folk crafts of the Appalachian region, including the area around Rockbrook Camp, is pottery. Following a long tradition of people making household pots from clay, there are now, according to the Southern Highland Craft Guild, more than 125 ceramic artists and potters working in western North Carolina. Using traditional and modern techniques, the most amazing sculpture, tiles, pots and other vessels still spring from these hills.

At Rockbrook, girls and crafts definitely go together, and making pottery is something just about everyone does. It’s probably one of the most popular activities, in fact (not counting horseback riding 🙂 ). Working with clay, pinching, rolling, flattening, shaping, texturizing, and spinning on the wheel, the girls make some amazing things. It’s particularly exciting to see how the glazes come out after firing their work. Who would think continuing an Appalachian crafts tradition would be so fun!

Childrens Summer Camp Needlecraft

Children Needlecraft at Summer Camp

Another super popular summer camp activity for children at Rockbrook is something we call “Needlecraft.” It’s a craft activity where we make all kinds of things out of yarn, string, and thread, and as you might expect, use “needles” to weave, tie, twist and knit the strands into interesting patterns and shapes. Sometimes we do cross stitch (like in this photo), sometimes knitting, sometimes crocheting, or needlepoint, or other kinds of embroidery. It’s fun to learn these “old timey” crafts, and you can make some amazing things… hats, scarves, bookmarks, monograms, blankets, even socks! Plus, it’s the kind of thing that you can keep doing when you get home if you like.

Sitting on the back porch of Curosty, under the trees, listening to the creek and the birds, wiht lots of friends… it’s the perfect place to enjoy needlecraft.

Pottery Camp for Girls

Pottery Camp at Rockbrook

What’s the pottery program like at Rockbrook Camp?

It’s fantastic! There are two different pottery studios at camp, each with work tables for hand building (using coils, slabs, and pinch techniques) and potter’s wheels for learning how to make wheel-thrown pots. No matter what their level of experience, campers can make all sorts of bowls, plates, cups, and sculptures. One popular thing to make is a whistle that you shape into some kind of animal, like a turtle for example. It’s neat to actually make your own pottery at camp instead of just glazing pre-made pots. After your creations are “bisque fired” (the first kiln firing that completely dries and stabilizes the pottery), you then paint on different color glazes, and after the final firing, you’ve got the coolest, shiny colored ceramics. Of course, in addition to learning all about this, it’s great to bring home all the pottery you’ve made.