Because we fared well with our first batch of decorated eggs this season, my daughter and I pushed on. We experimented with natural dyes, without success. Boiled red cabbage suffuses the kitchen with a pungent smell and yields a vibrant reddish-blue color in the pan. Yet eggs left in this liquid for an extended period emerge an innocuous, industrial shade of gray-white. The same is true for beet juice. This might not be the case if we had boiled the eggs slowly with the vegetables, as we have done, with good results, to make our reddish-brown onion skin eggs (See post from April 2012). Surprisingly, only frozen blueberries mixed with water imparted a substantial but subtle color (a dull gray-blue, seen on the egg in the top center, above).
D and I soon turned to the stand-by, store-bought egg-coloring kit. We wanted to try some easy techniques that did not involve paint or markers. Outside in the biting March wind, we foraged for interesting bits of foliage and flowers. We arranged a sprig or a leaf on each egg, wrapped the egg tightly in cheesecloth, tied the ends with yarn and immersed the egg in the dye. We had used the cheesecloth technique before when decorating some of our onion skin eggs. (Pieces of old nylon stocking, recommended by some, did not work for us; they didn’t create a secure enough hold.) This cheesecloth process produces messily impressionistic images, as on the eggs above, instead of clear-cut stencil designs, which suits us fine.
My daughter created this interesting design with nandina leaves,
wrapped very tightly to show the weave of the cheesecloth.
We made bolder patterns by simply wrapping rubber bands
tightly around the eggs before dyeing them.
For this design we used a sprig of pine needles bound with a rubber band. It reminds me of waving seagrass in front of a beach fence.
We made polka-dotted eggs by applying stickers before dyeing.
We used a variety of stickers for the eggs above. Our failure to remove the stickers immediately after dyeing made for the only stress of the evening. We spent considerable time trying,
with incomplete success, to scrape off the shredded stickers and the gooey residue.
We used tape to create simple rectilinear designs. It peels off far more easily than stickers.