Discovering Nature’s Easter Egg Dyes

When I was in Art school I had an illustration teacher who brought a new dimension to the art experience.  He wanted us to know the paint and how it reacted to secondary elements.  For a watercolor assignment we were instructed to lay tape on our watercolor paper,  down and across to create a  grid of squares.  

In each square we laid down paint along with an other element to see how the paint reacted.  We labeled each square with the combination, for example, “watercolor with rubber cement, watercolor with hair spray, watercolor with salt, or watercolor with alcohol.  You get the idea.  Some of these experiments turned out to be techniques that worked for specific looks.  It was fun to invent and experiment and see how the paint interacted when a new chemical was introduced.

I’m finding the same thrill when it comes to dying my Easter eggs.  I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of organic dyes and combinations, and the eggs have turned out beautiful.  I love the soft natural colors.  I find my color palette in the pantry, refrigerator and garden.  You can boil vegetables for dyes, such as spinach, red or green cabbage, and red onion skins.  You can also use juices , like beet, cranberry, or grape.  Spices like Turmeric produce a vibrant yellow.  I have tried coffee and tea (hibiscus and green), for pretty neutral colors.  I keep looking for new things around the house and garden.

I  start with a cup of boiling water,  then add anywhere from 1 tablespoon to 1 cup of any natural ingredient.  (vary the amount to get the shade that you like).   Let seep, then strain. Optional:  add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to your dye to intensify the color.  Allow a hard boiled egg (brown or white), to bathe in the dye.  The longer you leave the egg in the dye bath, the deeper the shade will be.  Afterwards, be sure to rub dyed eggs with a few drops of vegetable oil to give them a nice sheen.

So, If you happen to have little ones around for an egg dying activity, they will love discovering and creating natural dyes (and will probably find a few new dye sources themselves).  It is a great learning experience and a nice change from store bought dyes with pre-made decals.

It was always fun to have dyed eggs out on the breakfast buffet counter for my guests at the inn.  They really are pretty!  I have posted a few pictures here for you to enjoy.  Pinterest is loaded with natural dye information too.  I hope you try some dipping and dying.  Nature’s colors really are the best.