Project

Dyeing Eggs Naturally

Dyeing Eggs Naturally

Photography: Gentl and Hyers

Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 1998

Introduction

The tradition of dyeing eggs goes back to medieval times when people made pace eggs to celebrate spring and Pasch, the original name given to Easter or Passover.

Your kitchen is full of natural dyes. Common food items such as red cabbage, onion skins, and coffee can be used to transform plain white eggs into colorful Easter gems. Kids will especially love discovering all the different colors they can create -- let them experiment using hard-boiled eggs and bowls of cold dyes.

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) Cold-Dipping Method

Color Glossary
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.

Do You Know?
The tradition of dyeing eggs goes back to medieval times when people made "pace" eggs  to celebrate spring and Pasch, the original name given to Easter or Passover.  

materials

  • Natural dyeing agents (red cabbage, turmeric, onion skins, beets, and coffee)

  • 3-quart pot (or larger)

  • White vinegar

  • Strainer

  • Small bowls

  • Eggs

  • Large metal spoon

  • Paper towels

  • Drying rack

steps

  1. Remove eggs with spoon, pat dry with paper towels, and let dry on a wire rack. The cold-dipping method produces subtle, translucent shades, but can result in uneven coloring unless the eggs are rotated vigilantly while in the dye. For hollow eggs that will last indefinitely, cold-dip raw eggs, then blow them out after they are dyed.

  2. With this method, the eggs and the ingredients for the dye are boiled separately. Using a metal spoon, lower cooled hard-boiled eggs into a bowl of cooled dye, and let them soak for as little as 5 seconds or as long as overnight, depending on the depth of color you desire. Remove eggs with spoon, pat dry with paper towels, and let dry on a wire rack. The cold-dipping method produces subtle, translucent shades, but can result in uneven coloring unless the eggs are rotated vigilantly while in the dye. For hollow eggs that will last indefinitely, cold-dip raw eggs, then blow them out after they are dyed.

  3. This method involves boiling the eggs with the dye; the heat allows the dye to saturate the shells, resulting in intense, more uniform color. Set raw eggs in a pot of strained dye; bring to a boil for the amount of time specified in our color glossary (see below). Remove and dry eggs as with the cold-dipping method.

  4. Natural dyes tend to fade over time, so finish any eggs you plan to keep with a matte or gloss acrylic spray varnish. To create an egg-spraying stand, stick a 6-inch length of wire into a block of Styrofoam; prop a hollow egg onto the wire through one of its holes.

  5. Spray egg with a coat of varnish in a well-ventilated area, and let dry.

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