Easter eggs have always been a vibrant bunch, thanks to good old food coloring and a little imagination. This year, we took palette and pattern a step further. Looking to mid-twentieth-century graphic design for inspiration, our crafts editors brought the era's bright hues, geometric forms, and sense of whimsy to the eggshell. The technique they used gives impressive results but is fun and easy enough to do with kids, who are sure to love the eye-popping patterns.
The trick? Stickers and stencils that you make from adhesive vinyl and electrical tape. After you apply stick-on shapes to the egg, dip it into dye or dab color right onto the shell. Then repeat, layering on more colors and designs. You can't make a mistake -- all of your creations will be charming and surprising. Fresh eggs, indeed.
Egg Dyeing How-To
This is a great project to do with kids. Experiment, improvise, and have a good time (results don't have to be perfect). You need just a few materials. The first is adhesive vinyl (see Sources, below). We worked with three types: plain sheets, shaped with craft punches to make stickers and stencils; preformed letters; and electrical tape, cut using a craft knife and a cutting mat. The vinyl works beautifully: It adheres well and doesn't let dye seep through, so you can make crisp, clear designs.
The second component is dye. Food coloring -- the classic four-pack and a neon variation -- works well. When stenciling eggs, you'll use undiluted food coloring; mix hues together for custom blends. For dip-dyeing eggs, make a dye bath: Add one teaspoon of white vinegar and five to 20 drops of food coloring to one cup of hot water; stir it regularly to keep the color even.
When you stick vinyl cutouts, strips, or letters onto an egg and dip it into dye, the areas underneath remain uncolored. Remove the stickers to reveal the shape.
Position a vinyl cutout on an egg. With your fingernail, rub gently around the entire outline of cutout, sealing it fully. This will help ensure crisp edges on the finished design. Use each cutout only one time.
When you use a craft punch on vinyl, the shape's border becomes a stencil. Position it on the egg, and dab color inside.
Make a vinyl stencil using a craft punch. Apply it to the egg, rubbing the inside edge for a good seal. Using a cotton swab, dab undiluted food coloring inside stencil; let dry before removing stencil.
Adhesive vinyl sheets and letters, duall.com; craft punches, from Michaels (by Martha Stewart Crafts), dickblick.com, and createforless.com; neon food coloring, mccormick.com; blown goose eggs, thefeatheredegg.com.