How to Paint a Placenta Blood Shirt

Photo of the backside of my 18-month-old son as seen through the window of his cardboard fort. He is wearing a green shirt with a faded brown blood-painted face similar to the one depicted in the Tom Hanks movie Castaway.

Step 1. Demand your nurses hand over your placenta, assuming they haven’t already eaten it. (Why do you think they became OB nurses?) If they’re nice, you’ll receive it in a handy plastic container.

Step 2. Refrigerate your placenta.

Step 3. Wait a couple weeks, realize the placenta may spoil, so stick the container in your freezer.

Step 4. Wait a few months.

Step 5. Buy some blank baby T-shirts, the less expensive the better. You may screw up, so don’t waste too much money. Forget K-Mart; it only has plain poor quality Hanes Onesies and cheezy shirts plastered with dumb decals. Target sells real shirts devoid of advertising.

Step 6. Wait a few more months.

Step 7. Thaw the placenta in the fridge for a day.

Step 8. Iron the shirts.

Step 9. Cut cereal boxes apart and insert a cardboard sheet into each shirt.

The idea is to stretch the shirt slightly so it doesn’t wrinkle up while painting and to separate the front and back layers so you don’t paint “through” the shirt.

Step 10. Pour some blood into a bowl and begin painting. Start by painting the face Tom Hanks painted with his own blood on his friend Wilson in the hit volleyball movie Castaway.

Step 11. Get disappointed because blood isn’t nearly as dark as you thought it would be on cloth.

Step 12. Realize that the decorated side of the cardboard sheet (the outside of the box you see while eating breakfast) repels moisture. Watch as excess blood bleeds into the cloth totally ruining your artwork.

Step 13. Rinse all of your shirts in cold water to remove the blood. Wash the shirts in cold water. Start over at Step 8 tomorrow and skip all that months of waiting stuff.

Step 14. Be sure the plain brown interior side of the box faces up toward the side of the shirt you are painting. Ahh, much better.

Step 15. Don’t apply too much blood to your brush because blood is watery and bleeds into cloth very easily.

Step 16. Be resolved to the fact that painting with blood is sort of like painting with watercolors — you don’t have much control.

Step 17. Let your painted shirts sit and dry for a week.

Step 18. Set your shirts aside somewhere and forget about them. Relocate them several times in your home over the course of the next year.

Step 19. Find your shirts again in a box and realize only one will still fit your child.

Step 20. Run a hot iron over the dried blood. Don’t use steam because the blood will bleed into the cloth more, totally ruining your artwork again.

Step 21. Wash the shirt on a gentle cycle with hot water, then dry on the hottest setting.

Ta-da! You’re done!

Close-up photo of the Wilson blood face shirt.

Watch for our next article: How to paint shirts with 18-month-old placenta blood that has spent most of its life in your refrigerator.


16 Responses to “How to Paint a Placenta Blood Shirt”

  1. Makayla says:

    Seriously?!? Why would one want to do this?? That is awful. Painting with blood???

    September 21st, 2009 at 8:20 am

  2. Maggie says:

    You’re kidding right?! This makes me think of a video I saw about drying the placenta, grinding it up into powder and putting it in little capsules that can be swallowed. Nothing says yummy like dried placenta.

    September 21st, 2009 at 10:45 am

  3. AJ says:

    No joke. For what it’s worth, we discussed placenta pills in July.

    September 21st, 2009 at 10:57 am

  4. Maggie says:

    Silly me! After following your link again, I realized that is where I saw the video. Not my cup of tea but I thought the video had some funny parts. The dad cracked me up! I wish I were that evolved but…I’m not.

    September 21st, 2009 at 11:41 am

  5. Kimberly says:

    Maggie, I’m not in the least evolved, but I plan on encapsulating my placenta… well not me but my midwives will do it for me. I admit it makes me squeamish, but as long as I’m no part of the process I’m just going to tell myself they are just postpartum herbs.

    The benefits far outweigh the ick factor IMO.

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:32 pm

  6. Phil says:

    Dude. Wow. Placenta blood shirts? I think this is one your kids will be reminding you about 30 years from now.

    “Hey Dad. Do we still have the picture of me in the smiley face shirt. You know, the one you painted with mom’s placenta blood? OK, my therapist wanted me to bring that in.”

    They are going to tease you about these things. BUT in 30 years, this will be EXACTLY the type of quirky story they’ll remember and love talking about. And that’s a good thing. Keep rocking.

    September 21st, 2009 at 2:54 pm

  7. Sheri says:

    Ewww…. I think i just might have nightmares about this

    September 21st, 2009 at 10:37 pm

  8. Jamie says:

    I find this repulsive. I had no desire to see mine…no desire to bring it home…and definitely no desire to consume it.

    Noticed you deleted some comments that didn’t support this idea? Can’t take the criticism??

    September 22nd, 2009 at 10:13 am

  9. MIdge says:

    I know you’re not kidding because I remember you discussing this before you son was born. SO COOL that you did it!!

    And DOUBLY COOL that you had that stuff laying around your house for over a year. I’m so glad I’m not the only with a bit of lack-of-follow-through-ability!!

    Thanks for finally sharing!

    Both of our placentae were planted with trees commemorating the birth of our kids. They stayed in the freezer for a week before they were thrown into the hole in the ground.

    September 22nd, 2009 at 1:21 pm

  10. AJsMomma says:

    And to think I’ve been spending hours trying to get blood (and grass and dirt) OUT of my kids clothes.

    Did you let the kids participate or do this on your own? I would be so worried about where the “paint” would go…mouths, hair, clothes, walls, table.

    September 22nd, 2009 at 4:41 pm

  11. FreeCycleMom82 says:

    Wow. That is all I can say. Can I ask what made ou think of this idea? I work in a hospital so all I can think of is bloodborne pathogens. YOu are brave!

    September 23rd, 2009 at 5:58 am

  12. AJ says:

    Jammie, because you have not posted here before, your comments are held for moderation (most new comments are spam).There was one other negative comment held for moderation posted under a different username, but the IP address was identical except for the last number (indicating you both originate from the same ISP). Maybe this was a friend or housemate, but please know I ban users who appear to use multiple identities to sway conversations.

    AJsMomma, nope, I was the only one holding a paint brush.

    FreeCycleMom82, I suspect I thought of the idea because of the connection between the movie scene and my son’s chosen name. As for pathogens, I sort of trust my wife’s blood, and was careful not to get it on anything besides the brush and shirt. I just hope I can avoid buying my son name-branded sports clothing his whole life.

    September 23rd, 2009 at 7:18 am

  13. MichelleTong says:

    I think I’m the 4th from the same IP address…we’re using a public computer in a dorm space. I think it’s pretty cool…my friends think I’m whacked! Long time readers, just never posted.

    September 23rd, 2009 at 9:23 am

  14. Mariana Perri says:

    Ok… I am all for the “to each his own” deal… but I MUST be very honest here… Kind of Yuck!lol
    I must confess I have no clue what became of my placenta, but when I left the maternity ward I was very happy with just one little package… lol

    September 25th, 2009 at 9:55 am

  15. Miss X says:

    You do such cool things for your kids! They are going to have some great memories.

    Not sure I’d do it – I’m more likely to go the placenta pills route when I have a baby.

    September 25th, 2009 at 11:40 pm

  16. Honey says:

    I started searching for some pictures for the kids new 3part cards (montessori momma) and found you mom blog I think…anyways…I like the shirt idea…but I may be biased. I was the first lotus birth in any hosptial in the state of Ohio. My daughter kept her placenta attached until day 3 I believe? It was salted with sea salt, rosemary, lavender, goldenseal, jasmine, myrrh and frankincense. It smells heavenly and I’ve still got it in my freezer. Nurses, residents, ob’s, NICU docs…all were interested. So…keep on with the birth art! :) I’d love to grind the placenta up but we prefer the baby to have all the benefits and release it when s/he is done with it. Lotus birth…that’s the way to go. I have pictures too if you ever want to see them! :)


    July 24th, 2010 at 7:09 pm