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Art: T-Shirt Painting with Puffy Paints

Gavin’s got a dress-up day coming up at school soon. The theme is Malaysia Day. Not knowing what to dress him up as, I pondered taking a trip to Central Market to buy him an “I Love Malaysia” t-shirt to wear. Then I had this brilliant idea – why don’t we paint a batik shirt with a Malaysia Day theme for the design?

As it turns out, Art Friend in The Gardens Midvalley actually does sell DIY batik kits. They have both the hot-wax batik kit and the quick-wax batik kit. Unfortunately, in my haste to purchase (as Gavin was running up and down the aisles in a hypo-frenzy and Gareth was getting cranky in the carrier), I took what I thought was the “bigger” kit which turned out to be a “silk screen” painting kit instead.

Luckily, while we were at Art Friend, I also bought some puffy paints with the plan of using them as a second t-shirt painting activity with Gavin. The puffy paints were only about RM13 if I remember correctly. Since I wasn’t sure about silk screen painting, I decided to paint our Malaysia Day t-shirt with the puffy paints instead. Here’s the final out-come:

And before you tell me what’s wrong with the flag, I know. I’m not an artist and this was one of those ideas that seemed a lot better in my head than in reality. Nevertheless, it’s a t-shirt with a Malaysia Theme so Gavin can still wear it for his dress up day.

In the picture above, the painting is pretty much done except that it needs to be heated so the paint puffs up. The instructions on the box says to use a hair dryer to blow hot air onto it. It must be 80 degrees celcius to be hot enough for the paint to puff up. I don’t know what kind of hair dryer they were talking about but mine wasn’t hot enough to do anything. Looks like we’re going to have to try ironing it. I will post pictures of the completed t-shirt design soon.

In the mean-time, if you would like to try puffy painting on a t-shirt, it is actually very simple. What you will need:


  1. On a piece of paper, draw out your design.
  2. Transfer the design onto the t-shirt.
  3. Colour in your design using the puffy paints.
  4. Let the paints dry.
  5. Iron the t-shirt inside-out with some newspaper in between the t-shirt until the paint puffs up.

And you’re done!

Update: Here is the t-shirt after heat treatment

It didn’t puff up as much as I expected, but the puffed up paint looks less glossy and is not as sticky.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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