Don’t get me wrong, I really like chocolate. But I’m not a fan of the mass produced Easter eggs all too present in the shops at this time of year that contain very little ‘actual’ chocolate. I’m also tight, so I tend to wait until afterwards and then get the really good quality Fairtrade ones half price 😉
Anyway, I digress. I’ve always wanted to try natural egg dyeing, but never got round to it. This year, however, I had an incentive: the school Easter egg decorating competition. Once I found out glitter had been banned (really?!), it paved the way for giving it a go.
My five-year-old needed a bit more persuasion though, especially when I started diving head first into the compost bin to retrieve a head of red cabbage that had been in there a few weeks.
I wouldn’t advise using mouldy vegetables for this project, but needs must sometimes and after all, no one was going to eat it, so no harm done. (The smell of cabbage cooking is often bad at the best of times; it wasn’t really all that noticeable, honest).
Along with the red cabbage (blue), a sweep of the kitchen uncovered some turmeric (yellow), spinach (turquoise apparently) and, there is a theme here, some cranberries at the bottom of the fridge left over from Christmas (allegedly pink). The blue and yellow worked great (see below), the other two not so much.
You need to place your dye material in just enough water to cover it to make the colour as strong as possible. Boil gently for about 30 mins to an hour, until you get a rich colour, then add one tablespoon of white vinegar for every (US) cup of dye.
The eggs need to be hard boiled for 10 minutes and then cooled. For. Ages. I made the mistake of trying to do it too soon and have no fingerprints left.
Children will love collecting all sorts of foliage and flowers from the garden to press onto the eggs. It’s a bit fiddly when you place them on though. You need a square from an old pair of tights/stockings, place your flowers etc. on the egg and then tie it around before placing in the dye. NB: Alternative swear words will be necessary at this point. There was a lot of ‘fiddlesticks’ involved before it was all over.
Place the eggs in jars of dye and soak for about 4hrs if you can. Don’t be too impatient to remove the tights after taking them out – the eggs need to dry out almost completely or the dye will ‘bleed’ into the white parts.
The theme was a scene from a story and more by fluke than design, I think the final pattern on the blue egg looks a little like a mermaid with some fish around her and the yellow one a bit like a sun. So we sort-of-cheated and made the story fit the eggs, rather than the other way around. (Little Mermaid when she comes up from the ocean to see the sun for the first time, if you were wondering.)
When I saw the eggs on display with all the other (pretty amazing) entries my heart sank: they were crushed beyond recognition. My daughter rather sheepishly admitted she may have ‘accidentally shut the lid a bit too hard’ on them while showing her friends.
I’m all for giving credit where credit’s due and I wish I’d come across this site before I started on my egg dyeing adventure. There’s lots out there but this one makes it pretty simple and has nice clear photos where children can easily make the link between the dye material and the resulting colour: Mommypotamus Blog