New techniques for an old Easter tradition
Easter egg decorating has evolved with the introduction of Pinterest and Instagram and other creative apps. But whether you try something outrageous, like nail polish art, or stick with the store-bought dye kits, it’s still all about having fun.
You don’t need to be Vincent Van Gogh to paint a masterpiece on an egg. From preschool finger paints to Jackson Pollack-esque speckles applied with a flicking of a paintbrush, put down some newspaper and get carried away with color.
According to the USDA, the dye in the prepackaged decorating kits is 100 percent food safe. For those who prefer something that doesn’t consist of dyes, however, there are plenty of foods that can be used to stain eggs. Red cabbage, beets, onion skins, coffee, tea and turmeric are all items that might be readily available in your kitchen. Pop a boiled egg into a vinegar and water bath mixed with any of these ingredients for subtle or striking results, depending on how long you leave them.
Prudence Burgardt, owner of Peddler of Dreams Art Space for Children on Front Street in Marietta, offered a workshop last year incorporating nature and creativity.
“We experimented with homemade and natural dyes and this year we will offer an egg coloring class,” Burgardt said, adding that details were not yet finalized. Information about the classes can be found on Facebook by searching Peddler of Dreams.
For those don’t intend to eat the eggs, or prefer to use plastic eggs, marbling is a beautiful technique that can be done with nail polish.
According to the Alice & Lois style blog, the effect can be achieved by putting a few drops of nail polish into a lukewarm disposable cup of water, stirring around and dipping the eggs, using rubber gloves. The result is a one-of-a-kind design and can be monochromatic or use many different colors.
Glitter, it is said, makes everything better. Add glitter to an Easter egg and you have the star attraction of any basket. The Incredible Egg, a sister website of the American Egg Board, offers several tips on how to add flare to Easter eggs. Glitter eggs can be as easy as brushing craft glue on the egg in a pattern, sprinkling glitter on a paper plate and rolling the egg around. For the more adventurous, rhinestones, faux gemstones, gold leaf and dried flowers can also be used to adorn eggs.
To find everything you need to make interesting egg designs, look no further than the junk drawer or craft room.
Parenting Magazine suggests that leftover wrapping and tissue paper, ribbons, rubberbands, chalk (and chalkboard paint) and even crayons can be used to decorate. Wrap an egg in wrapping paper or apply tissue paper using Mod Podge, wrap the egg in multiple rubberbands before dyeing to get a tie-dyed design, paint the egg — that you don’t intend to eat –with chalkboard paint and use chalk to write personal messages. Crayons can be applied directly to a warm egg and the wax will melt the design into place.
Easter egg inspiration can also come from thinking beyond conventional methods. Find some old silk neckties, either out of dad’s closet or from the local thrift store. Wrap a square of silk fabric, design side down, around the egg and boil in a vinegar and water solution. The design will transfer to the egg. If you like to crochet or knit, consider getting out the crochet hooks or knitting needles, tracking down a pattern and going to work to create a unique cover for your eggs.
If you’ve collected old seed packets or have birdfeeders, seeds, nuts and grains can be glued to the egg to make a natural design.
Anna Vukovic, of Marietta, has been using a Ukrainian technique known as pysanky since she was in grade school. She now teaches the art to others.
“I keep thinking this will be my last year, but I still have people contacting me to teach them,” she said.
The technique requires the use of a stylus to apply wax in a pattern and dip the egg from lightest color to darkest, then repeating the process.
The finished raw egg is then blown out and will keep “forever,” according to Vukovic.
Riverside Artists Gallery will host a class Saturday but Vukovic will also offer another class on March 24 at her home. Call 740-373-2047 for more information.
Natural dyes can sometimes produce unexpected results, so don’t be surprised if, for example, your red-cabbage dye yields blue eggs. Use the following guide to help you achieve the colors you desire.
Deep Gold: Boil eggs in turmeric solution, 30 minutes.
Sienna: Boil eggs in onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.
Dark, Rich Brown: Boil eggs in black coffee, 30 minutes.
Pale Yellow: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes.
Orange: Soak eggs in room-temperature onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.
Light Brown: Soak eggs in room-temperature black coffee, 30 minutes.
Light Pink: Soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution, 30 minutes.
Light Blue: Soak eggs in room-temperature cabbage solution, 30 minutes.
Royal Blue: Soak eggs in room-temperature cabbage solution overnight.
Lavender: Soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature cabbage solution, 30 seconds.
Chartreuse: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature cabbage solution, 5 seconds.
Salmon: Soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.
Source: Martha Stewart Living.
Practice egg safety
¯ Wash your hands between all the steps of cooking, cooling, dyeing and decorating.
¯ Be sure that all the decorating materials you use are food safe.
¯ Keep the eggs refrigerated as much as possible. Put them back into the refrigerator whenever you’re not working with them.
¯ If you hide the decorated eggs, put them where they won’t come into contact with pets, other animals, birds or lawn chemicals.
¯ After you’ve found all the hidden eggs, throw out any that are cracked or have been out at room temperature for more than two hours.
Homemade Easter-Egg Dye Recipes
Select a dyeing agent, and place it in the pot using the amount listed below. Add 1 quart water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar to pot; if more water is necessary to cover ingredients, proportionally increase the amount of vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Allow the ingredients to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain dye into a bowl.
Red-cabbage dye: 4 cups chopped cabbage
Turmeric dye: 3 tablespoons turmeric
Onion-skin dye: 4 cups onion skins (skins of about 12 onions)
Beet dye: 4 cups chopped beets
Coffee dye: 1 quart strong black coffee (instead of water)
– Tunnel United Methodist Church: March 31 at 10 a.m.
– Beverly-Waterford Community: March 31 at noon in Dodge Park.
– Washington County Fairgrounds: March 31 at noon in Civitan Park.
– Williamstown Community: March 31, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Tomlinson Park.
– Newport Baptist Church: March 31 at 2 p.m.
– Washington County Fish & Game Club: March 31 at 2 p.m. *Members only.