is a traditional craft practiced by families and artisans around the
world. Some use decorating methods handed down over generations, such
as the elaborately decorated pysanky of Slavic nations or the
hollowed-out, confetti-filled cascarones of Mexico, which are meant to
be thrown in celebration—or in a sneak attack at the back of someone’s
head. Others invent new ways to embellish their eggs each year—painting
them with the latest trends, writing on them, drawing Eliot Spitzer’s
caricature in egghead form on it, or trimming them with odds and ends
from around the house.
Many folks, though, prefer their eggs
simply dyed in a psychedelia of hues. For both children and adults of
all skill levels, it can be fascinating to see the effects of dipping
those oblongs into different colored dyes.
You can decorate either hard-cooked eggs
or empty eggshells. Hard-cooked eggs are a bit sturdier for children
and some adults to use, while empty shells are best if you’re making an
egg tree or want to keep the eggs on display for a considerable time,
without the smell of spoil. To dye your eggs, you can always use
commercial egg dyes or food coloring, but what fun is that? Try dyes
you make yourself from foods and spices, but a word of caution: Hippies
do not have a high success rate with this method. According to the
American Egg Board, homemade natural dyes are easy to prepare and go
well with all-natural eggs.
Simply toss your choice of a handful—or
two or three—of one of the materials listed below into a saucepan. For
spices, try a spoonful or two instead. Use your own judgment about
quantity. This is an art, not a science.
Add about a cup of water for each
handful, so the water comes at least an inch above the dyestuff. Bring
to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer from 15 minutes up to an hour,
until the color is the shade you want. Keep in mind that the eggs will
dye a lighter shade than the dye. Remove the pan from the heat.
To achieve the following colors, try these natural dye materials:
Pinkish red: Fresh beets, cranberries, radishes or frozen raspberries.
Orange: Yellow onion skins.
Delicate yellow: Orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed or ground cumin.
Yellow: Ground turmeric.
Pale green: Spinach leaves.
Green-gold: Yellow Delicious apple peels.
Blue: Canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves.
Beige to brown: Strong brewed coffee or black tea.
Brown-gold: Dill seeds.
Brown-orange: Chili powder.
Gray: Purple or red grape juice or beet juice.
Through cheesecloth, a coffee filter or
a fine sieve, strain the dye mixture into a small bowl that’s deep
enough to completely cover the eggs you want to dye. Add two to three
teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of dye liquid. With a slotted
spoon or wire egg holder from a dyeing kit, lower the eggs into the hot
liquid. Let the eggs stand until they reach the desired color.
For emptied eggshells, stir or rotate
for even coloring. With the spoon or wire egg holder, remove the eggs
to a rack or drainer. Allow the eggs to dry thoroughly. Within less
than two hours, refrigerate hard-cooked eggs that you intend to eat.
If you’re contemplating the existence of
man and would like to see your reflection in an unhatched egg, rub the
dyed eggs with a bit of cooking oil to bring about a glaringly shiny
quality. You can also use food-safe white glue to add natural
decorations, such as beans, seeds, salvia, small pasta shapes or large
pieces of spices. Using these methods, you can be creative and
experiment to express yourself in unique ways, without having a
psychedelic gleam in your eye.
For other egg-decorating ideas, visit www.IncredibleEgg.org.
—Courtesy of ARA Content and