t-shirt chemistry

Tomorrow starts the new semester for me, and I finished my course prep (well, tomorrow’s activities anyway) so I figured I would celebrate with a little creativity. Not too long ago, I came across the activity where you can make a t-shirt iron on by drawing on sandpaper. I have sandpaper, some old t-shirts and I splurged on an 8-pack of crayons ($0.67 at Walmart) so I figured I would give it a go.

This year is all about the periodic table, so I wanted a periodic table design. One trend that I particularly like is the number of stable isotopes, which very clearly shows off my favorite element – technetium – because it is the lightest element without any stable isotopes. Technetium’s claim to fame is that it’s the first element to have been synthesized (in 1937) and therefore it is, in my opinion, the element of makers.

My first crayon iron t-shirt!
Thanks go to Rozenn, who is the only person who knows how to use an iron in my house.

I’m pretty happy with the results. The number of stable isotopes ranges from none (the white t-shirt) to 10 (black). The rest of the colors follow the rainbow (red is 1, orange is 2, …). There are no elements with 8 stable isotopes and in order for my distribution to work perfectly, I would need 9 colors, but that would have exceeded my crayon purchasing budget this week, so both xenon (9) and tin (10) are black.

I made the design using the same Mathematica software I use to create 3D printed periodic tables (which I describe here). I then substituted the number of isotopes for colors as mentioned above and a simple image reflection gave me the template.

At this point, I decided to print out the template at the desired size and then used it to mark the location of the squares on the sandpaper (using pencil). Then it was just coloring in the elements and showing off how badly I write letters backwards. All in all, I’m not disappointed with this first attempt at t-shirt iron on making.

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