Library teaches familiar pattern

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CHESAPEAKE — Ten-year-old Jaley Bennett spread out the white shirt on the library table with the self-possession of a true artist.

Soon with squirt bottles of reds, greens, orange and purple in hand, Jaley was creating a veritable abstract of colors on that no-longer pristine shirt with a composition sense worthy of a Frankenthaler or Pollack.

Under the shade trees at the parking lot of the Chesapeake library, Jaley was among a group of young people who were there to learn that fine old art of the 1960s — tie dying.

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With hands swathed in disposable gloves, they first took their shirts and sectioned them off as indiscriminately as possible with rubber bands.

“Now this is not as hard as it seems,” Amy Ward, the young adult coordinator for Briggs Library, told them as she created accordion-like folds on a shirt in a demonstration.

“Or you can just squirt dye over it,” she said. “They did it yesterday and it looked really cute.”

That seemed the preferred way for most, like Logan Chapman of Chesapeake High School who dashed color after color with the panache of a particular master chef trying to take it up a notch. Bam.

“That’s pretty cool. It looks like paint splattered on it,” Nathan Blake of Chesapeake Middle School, told

Chapman. “I’m looking to you for inspiration.”

The quick class in tie dying was part of the library’s summer program this year called “Teens Rock.”

“I thought tie dying. That’s kind of rock,” Ward said.

But learning how to make rockers’ garb was not the main goal of the afternoon; rather it was to encourage more teens to use the library.

Each month throughout the year Ward supervises a special teen activity with the goal of showing them that a library is more than shelves of books

“It is to get kids in the library for activities,” Ward said. “They may not realize the library has Internet or movies that they can check out. While they’re here, they might check out a book.”