Easter Egg Dyeing 101

Photo: Emily Kate Roemer

Consider an egg your blank canvas: It can be dyed and decorated to any color of the rainbow with natural simplicity or striking detail, and embellished with everything from glitter and stencils to découpage and appliqué. The important thing to remember is that this Easter tradition is meant to be fun for the whole family, and Martha's step-by-step guide to decorating eggs is an exclusive resource for your entire brood to find tutorials, tips, and decorating ideas.

The eggs that are currently in your fridge or sold at the local supermarket will make great dyed Easter eggs, but if you're hoping to create Easter decorations that are a little more unique, think about the other kinds of eggs you can use. As it turns out, basic white chicken eggs aren't the only variety you can successfully dye and decorate for the holiday. If you can get your hands on them, ostrich, emu, duck, or quail eggs all make for unique decorations in a variety of sizes and shapes.

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naturally dyed easter eggs in an egg carton
Janelle Jones

There's also a way to preserve your creations in order to reuse them year after year—rather than dyeing hard-boiled eggs, you can blow out the egg's contents before dyeing its shell. You can easily do so using two common household tools and one office staple that you probably already have at home.

You'll enjoy picking the perfect design to use on your Easter egg, as there are endless options from you to choose from. Whether you use traditional dyes or make your own eco-friendly options using kitchen staples, you'll watch with delight as your egg takes on different colors and patterns. The last step in the egg dyeing process is to properly dry your creation, which can be tricky if you're not prepared. We'll walk you through the best way to dry your dyed eggs, and a simple craft to create a handmade tool perfect for drying eggs of any size or shape.

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Blowing Out Eggs

blowing out an egg
Antonis Achilleos

To empty a raw egg, begin by using the tip of a sharp utility knife to pierce both ends of the egg; turn the knife in one of the holes to widen it slightly. Then, poke a straightened paper clip through the larger hole to pierce and "stir" the yolk. Hold the egg, larger hole down, over a bowl, and then blow the contents out with a rubber ear syringe.

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Dyeing Eggs

Emily Kate Roemer

Before you begin, protect your work area with paper towels or newspaper. Mix one teaspoon of vinegar and 20 drops of food coloring (use more to intensify color) in one cup of hot water in a heatproof bowl, cup, or jar deep enough to let you submerge an egg completely. To create different tints, vary the dipping time. Use tongs to make handling the eggs easy.

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Color Wheels

Emily Kate Roemer

Achieving desired shades is easy with our printable egg-dyeing color wheel chart. The chart provides information on how much dye you'll need, plus dipping times, for a large range of colors.

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Natural Dyes

naturally dyed easter eggs in a wooden basket
Janelle Jones

The kitchen is full of natural dyes that you can use to decorate eggs. Grocery staples including red cabbage, onion skins, and coffee can be used to transform eggs into a rainbow of colors. Kids will especially love discovering all the different colors they can create using natural dyes—let them experiment using hard-boiled eggs and full bowls of cold dyes.

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Dipped Designs

Emily Kate Roemer

To make a tritoned dipped egg, dye the whole egg first in a light color, let dry for 15 minutes, and then submerge both top and bottom into a darker color (leaving the center exposed).

Then, submerge egg halfway horizontally in a different shade before repeatating with the opposite side, again leaving a portion of the center uncolored.

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Masking Eggs with Rubber Bands

Emily Kate Roemer

You can also mask your eggs with lace, ribbons, rubber bands, and other materials—when you remove them, you'll reveal the unique pattern you've created. Try stacking layers of bands around the egg and removing them between layers of new dye to create a multi-faceted look. This technique is particularly effective for creating plaid Easter eggs.

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Masking Eggs with Tape and Leaves

Emily Kate Roemer

Did you know you can use stickers to create striking designs? The masking technique—which can also be used with leaves, masking tape, or anything that can be adhered to the surface of the egg—could help you differentiate your eggs before applying dye. Simply remove the "masks" after applying dye, and you'll find the design is all that's left behind.

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Embossed and Glittered Eggs

Emily Kate Roemer

In addition to dyeing your egg, embossing powder can be used to make intricate embellishments and bring an extra layer of detail to your egg's design. Try adding a touch of glitter to your egg when designing monogram features or even sparingly across the surface of your egg. Be sure to wait to apply glitter until after the dye has completely dried, however.

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Even More Ways to Decorate

Mike Krautter

There are even more designs to choose from—we have 63 ways to easily decorate your Easter eggs beyond traditional dyes, including decoupaged eggs, foiled designs, marbled and speckled how-to's, and paint-splattered eggs. Most of these designs don't require you to blow out the egg, meaning you can simply hard-boil them and get cracking on your Easter egg.

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