Photos by Zachary Cross
Happy Easter! One classic Easter decoration is eggs, usually dyed pastel or bright colors. All you need for beautiful eggs can be found at the market and you can use common household items.
With the return of warm weather and longer days, eggs are abundant at market right now. Although many of the eggs at market are brown, there are also white, blue, and green. And those colors have more variations and shades, including spots and combinations of brown and green.
A common way to do Easter eggs is to hard boil them, but blowing them gives you the opportunity to use the insides for scrambled eggs or baking and the outsides for decorating. If you’ve never blown eggs before, the basic idea is to make a small hole on each end of the egg, insert something inside to break up the yolk, blow the contents into a bowl, rinse, and let dry. You can make the hole with a pin, thin nail, or tiny drill bit. Stir up the yolk with the nail or a large, unbent paper clip. Although blowing the egg out with your mouth works there are other ways to do it. There are tools made for blowing eggs, or you can use an empty medicine syringe or nasal aspirator.
The simplest way, and my favorite, to decorate with eggs is to display them in their natural colors, no extra work needed! If you’ve kept your holes small they are not terribly noticeable. You can cover over the holes with matching paper, or use the holes to thread string or ribbon through to hang your eggs. If an egg cracks, you can use it as a scenery egg or a pot for a tiny plant. Still using the natural colors, or after you’ve dyed them, crushed eggs can be used as tiles for a mosaic egg.
If you’d like to decorate your eggs, the quickest way is to use a permanent marker or other pens to achieve anything from simple or whimsical decorations to complicated, Psansky-like designs. Use white gel or paint pen on brown or blue eggs, black on white, or combinations of colors. Your designs can be freeform or you can find tips for more complicated designs here.
Although tutorials for naturally dyed eggs, accompanied by beautiful photos (here is another), abound on the internet, I was somewhat disappointed in the results. I did see photos that matched my results, though, so at least I’m not alone! It is fun, though, to try out natural dyes and see what colors come from each plant - not always what you’d think. Many natural dyes can come from market produce, including leftovers and what we usually consider waste.
When choosing a dye material, think about what stains your hands, cutting board, and or countertops. Beets are an obvious first choice! They make a nice pink. However, I found the color faded when it dried. Carrot tops make a soft yellow. Yellow onion skins make a nice yellow when dipped briefly and make a darker orange when soaked for a while. Red cabbage makes blue, from pale to dark, depending on the color of the egg you start with and how long you dip it. If you froze or canned blueberries last summer they make a purple-ish color.
Colors I did not try but have seen online include carrots, spinach, and coffee. One color not available at market but one you might have in your home is red wine. I mention it because it was a fun one and a surprise. The color came out purple-ish brown but when it was dry it was sparkly, as if it were glittered.
All these colors are created by boiling the plant material with water - use about equal parts plant material and water. Strain and add one tablespoon vinegar per cup of dye. The internet, depending on the source, says to cool the dye or use it hot. The only dye I noticed a major difference with was onion skin: the hot dye made a nice yellow quickly but did not seem to cold. Certainly be careful if you use the dyes hot!
Have fun with the eggs you pick up at market this week!
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