SPRING! It’s such a wonderful time of year…Bunnies and flowers and little baby ducklings all lined up faithfully following their mom to brand new adventures. And Easter of course–with it’s gathering of friends and family, special treats and old traditions. No matter what your individual customs are one of the hallmarks this time of year is colored Easter eggs. Even if you’ve never touched one yourself you can’t be out and about this time of year and not see these gorgeous ornaments or their representations in all their rich and varied hues. For many children (perhaps second only to Easter Egg hunts) the dyeing of eggs is a highlight of the season. Eggs are such a wonderful surface to experiment with. There’s nothing like bowls of rich color spread before you along with a batch of clean white, blank slate, egg shells just begging for beautiful distinction.
You should know most artificial dyes contain chemicals such as petroleum, but the good news is you can make stunning eggs with natural dyes you easily make from all-natural, everyday ingredients that won’t affect taste. Using ingredients like beets, onion skins or certain spices you can make it all at home from start to finish!
Using natural dyes for Easter eggs is just as fun as using traditional food coloring, plus there is the added benefit of watching your kids experiment with different fruits, vegetables, and spices as dyes. We tried at least a dozen foods from carrots to turmeric, and found certain ingredients produced the most vibrant colors. However, don’t be afraid to try other ingredients. Pressed juices, teas, or even flowers can produce interesting colors.
Ready to try? Here is a summary of what you’ll need to gather around the house or the store:
For all projects:
– Eggs of course! (keep the cartons they come in handy for drying.)
– Non-aluminum pot
For the Dyes:
– 2 cups beets peeled and cubed – red
– 2 cups frozen blueberries – purple
– 2 cups purple cabbage, chopped – blue
– 2 tablespoons turmeric – yellow
– 2 tablespoons paprika – orange
For added flare and patterns:
– White crayon
– Rubber bands
– Masking tape
– Sticker dots or other shaped stickers you like
For Silk Print Eggs
– Silk fabric (must be silk to work) cut large enough to wrap around the egg and cinch
– Plain white cloth also cut into pieces large enough to wrap around each silk wrapped egg and cinch
– Rubber bands or Twist ties
1. Boil two cups of the vegetable or fruit with two cups water over medium high heat. For the spices use two tablespoons spice and two cups water.
2. Once the ingredients reach a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the dye in a bowl and allow it to rest until it reaches room temperature.
3. Discard any unreduced vegetable or fruit pieces and pour the dye through a fine mesh sieve. This step creates a smooth dye by removing any small pieces of vegetables or fruit and any grainy pieces from the spices.
4. Once the dyes are created you’re ready for your hard-boiled eggs. We found the eggs need to be soaked in natural dyes longer than artificial dyes to produce our desired color. Five minutes per egg is sufficient for most dyes except the ones made with paprika and cabbage which required soaking the egg for about an hour.
– A sign of a good natural dye is an opaque color that looks much darker in the bowl. For example, our dye made from blueberries looked almost black, but once on the egg produced a vibrant purple. You can also try mixing dyes to create new colors. To make green coloring, we combined equal parts of the blueberry and turmeric dyes.
– Once you’ve made your dye try some of these neat tips and tricks to add different patterns to your eggs:
– First of all let’s not forget the good old white crayon, it’s a standard for a reason. The crayon can be great for writing text or simple shapes and designs. It’s especially good for younger children who can turn even the simplest scribble into magic when the white is revealed through color.
– Want a little more definition? More sophistication?
– Use masking tape or rubber bands or to cover select portions of the egg before you put it in the dye. Get fancy! Spirals? Stripes? Rings or squares? Shaped stickers work too. Let the egg soak in the dye for several minutes (again natural dyes can take a little longer). Once you’re satisfied, pull them out and let them dry–it’s best to set them in an egg tray or similar stand so they do not roll around and smudge. Once dry, gently pull off the tape, sticker or rubber bands and reveal your creation!
– So you say you’ve been there? Done that? You’re looking for something just shy of faberge?
Have you tried silk printed eggs?
It takes some different materials and these eggs are not recommended for eating but here is how to create these beauties:
Silk Print Eggs
1. You’ll need silk fabric with patterns you want to copy onto the egg. (Think about old neckties, blouses, shorts etc. Goodwill can be a great source if you want to go on a hunt.)
2. Cut the fabric and make sure you have enough to cover the egg and cinch the silk with a rubber band or twist tie. Make sure the printed side of silk is touching the egg; the more snug the wrap the more defined the print.
3. Next take your silk wrapped egg and wrap it again in plain white cloth (an old sheet, t shirt or kitchen towel will work and cinch it once more. Repeat these steps for as much fabric you have or as many eggs as you want to color.
4. When ready, place the eggs in a pot (preferably glass–but not aluminum.) Fill the pot with water so the eggs are covered and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Carefully remove eggs from the water using tongs or other utensil and let cool.
6. Now for the fun part! After they’ve cooled, unwrap your eggs like little presents and reveal your showpieces!
Remember to use a non-aluminum pot (glass or enamel is best). Make sure your silk has good contact with the egg and is wrapped tight enough to hold that contact. Given the unknown nature in the dye in the silk, we cannot assume they are safe to eat–for gorgeous decoration only
Whatever you do…
Enjoy it! Remember these projects are about you and for you to enjoy, express and create. You can’t do it “wrong” or “mess it up,” EVEN IF you dropped all the eggs before they were boiled.–We hope you didn’t–but if you did–take a picture! Share it with us! Find out how your peers are using “unintended results” as their latest inspiration.
Share with us in the comments below!
Sending creative vibes from San Francisco,