Friday, April 11, 2014

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs; a tutorial

It's been years since I dyed Easter eggs 
and I really can't remember the last time I did. 
I do remember though how it was such a treat for my sisters and I.
Sitting around our mother's oak table 
waiting for the water to boil in order to disolve 
the tiny colored tablets.
And the smell of vinegar. 

I always thought it funny how those dyes leaked right through the shell
coloring my eggs blue, pink and green.
I couldn't taste the dye of course
but since then I've been learning about just how much the synthetic 
dyes used in our foods and our textiles have an enormous effect on our health 
and our environment. 

Since I've been using natural dyes now for 8 years, 
this is the first time I've tried this particular method. 
Dyeing eggs with plant dyes and using a plant to create a resist pattern.
Though I love using plant dyes for my yarns I spin and vintage linens I've collected,
I've been enjoying the continuation of learning about more avenues with plant dyes. 

I rounded up my dye stuffs from the kitchen.
Things I had on hand
especially food that was freezer burned (ooops).
Like the strawberries and blueberries. The cabbage and onions skins are the outer parts anyway. We have a ton of old tumeric and the spinach was also old and freezer burned. 
I guess its no secret now that I pay more attentio to dyeing 
the the state of my freezer. 

counter clock wise:
purple cabbage leaves, tumeric, starwberries, red onion skins, blueberries, & spinach.
I had brown eggs on hand but I knew white ones would have been better. 
And blue/ greens would have been fun.
But brown it was. 

I then went around the house and collected
various snippets from my plants.
from left to right:
china doll fern, carrot tops, thyme, fern, shamrocks, & sage flowers.

I wasn't sure how each dye would take onto the brown shells
but I was surprised in the end.

I choose this particular technique, with 6 different dyes and 6 different plants
becacuse I got really excited about all the possibilites.
You could easily do this one or two dyes and maybe no plants 
and the eggs would still be lovely.
But I thrive on making things complicated.

I found some pantyhoes at the local thrift store for a $1
I don't own or wear them anymore.
I may have a black pair here or there
but those are too nice to cut up.

Figuring how to get the plant and egg into the nylon was a little tricky

Then I figured it out. 
It's just like when you roll up the nylon in one bunch in your hand to slip over your toes.

My favorite part about this 
was craddling the egg in
each leaf 
like a swaddle.

Being careful not to squeeze the egg and break it, I then slowly pulled the cloth tight over the egg and tied a knot and snipped. 
I then tied another knot before adding the next egg. 

Once they were all secured in their own... pantyhoes
I popped one egg in its own jar 
and topped it with one kicthen scrap item.

A double boiler was made
by filling up each jar with water 
and the pot with water.
No mordant was needed for these dyes
as egg shells where being dyed and wouldn't last long anyway!

A great idea for doing more than one color at a time. 

I set the eggs to cook just like any other time I'm hard boiling eggs. 
After they were done cooking,
I turned off the heat and let the eggs continue to sit in the jars as they cooled. 
When all the way cooled,
I then set all the jars in the fridge until the next day,
when I was ready to unveil each of them. 

I had my money on the purple cabbage
and tumeric.

But it was the blueberry and the onion skins that really wooed me the most.

Here's onion and blueberry in the background. 
I LOVE these two.

(just look at their sassy personalities all proud at how they turned out)

Looking at the onion skin one, you wouldn't think the dye made any difference
but once the leaf was removed, it was really stunnning. 

To remove the nylon I snipped at the base of the knot and gently peeled the nylon back.

Cabbage, onion skins, spinach

all 6

Here's the blueberry which had the fresh thyme cooking against the shell. 
Notice the green it left behind? 
My favorite!

The one next to it is the strawberry dye with the fern cooking against the shell.
Funny thing about the strawberry dye- though it did leave emough of a contrast 
against the resist that the leaves created, it rubbed off easily with the slightest touch. 
Unlike all the other dyes- especially the blueberry, which didn't even scrape off when I tried with my finger nail. 

Going counter-clockwise:
strawberry, onion skins, purple cabbage, tumeric, spinach, 
blueberry in the middle.

Dig around in your freezer and fridge.
What do you have hanging out in there that you 
really don't want to eat but you think 
you shouldn't throw away "yet"? 
Those are what I call good kitchen dye scraps. 

Do you have kids or have kids visiting you this Easter and are looking for a fun and different activity?
This could also double as a science experiement.
If you have very little ones, maybe they could do the picking of the plants or flowers you might have around the yard or house to use as the resist patterns. 
By giving very little ones a job like this, 
it can give them so much purpose and mean so much.
This is also a great activity to try with your kiddos who are otherwise bouncing off the walls and enjoying some loud high impact fun. Model how to hold and swaddle the egg with the leaves and wrap in the nylon. 
Then have them try.
There is something about preforming this action of swaddling, even with an egg, that can fill us with calm. 

May your Easter Holiday be filled with 


1 comment:

Pallas said...

Your eggs are beautiful! I love the blueberry one, too. I will be doing this soon. Thanks for the inspiration.