Every year, for as long as I can remember, Good Friday is for dyeing Easter eggs. This is when we did it when I was a child and I've carried the same tradition into adulthood. Before we had our children, the Bear and I dyed eggs together. The small Bears joined us as soon as they were old enough. Both of our children were September babies, and each was six to seven months old for his or her first Easter. I put them in the bouncer seat on the kitchen table so that they could "watch" us dye the eggs. By their second Easters, they could help out a little. Now, at five and eight, they're old pros. They wear their art smocks, just as I wore one of my father's old shirts backwards to protect my clothes. They're fastidious with their eggs. They're nearly bursting out of their skin for most of the day on Good Friday, so eager are they to dye eggs in the afternoon, just like me when I was little.
In our family, we dyed our eggs with the same Paas kit every single year; this was before you could buy all the varieties they have today. I've seen glitter eggs, neon eggs, swirly eggs, even "tie-dyed" eggs, all from store-bought kits. But when I was a kid, there was just the basic kit with six colors: blue, red, yellow, green, orange and purple. The colors were clear and very bright - vaguely lurid, even. This is the same kit I buy today. You have to use hard-boiled white eggs for this, of course, and we look for the cleanest, whitest ones in the store. No cracks, no markings, minimal lumps and bumps. When dyed, they will be as perfectly bright and smooth as candy-filled plastic eggs hidden in new spring grass.
There is ceremony in preparing the dyes. We use our everyday stoneware soup bowls for the dye baths. The dye tablets, in their tiny plastic packets, look dull and dark. There is little hint of the bright colors they'll produce when mixed with white vinegar and water. Thousands of tiny bubbles rise as the tablet dissolves and the dye is released in clouds of intensifying color - brick-red to vibrant scarlet, greenish-gray to deep cerulean, peachy-tan to sunny golden-orange. The longer you let the bowls rest, the better. And don't forget to chop the tablets with the tip of a stainless-steel spoon. Every Good Friday, I wonder if this will be the year when the glaze on my Pfaltzgraff gives out, when the dyes will seep under the glossy finish and penetrate the pottery underneath. Every Good Friday, I am relieved to find that the glaze came through: my bowls will remain dye-free for another year.
It's a family time. We're hard at work, making our eggs festive, each of us assigned a set number of eggs to dye. My father and my husband share a passion for dyeing each egg with multiple colors, immersing each end of the egg in different dyes. The first year the Bear dyed eggs with my family, before we were married, they bonded over this. They both like to draw on their eggs with white crayon before dyeing too, to create a dye-resist effect.
I like my eggs to be one solid color. I leave my eggs in the dye bowl for as long as possible, spooning dye solution over them again and again. People get annoyed when you hog a dye bowl. But I like my eggs to look like jewels: bold, rich colors, dark and deep like amethysts, rubies and emeralds.
Eggs like these are the ones I remember, the ones we dyed as a family on Good Friday after a meatless dinner. These were the colors still clinging to my fingers on Easter morning as I pawed through my Easter basket, trying out the pearly pink nail polish or donning the necklace of plastic beads left by the Easter Bunny; the colors under my nails as I searched the green cellophane Easter grass for jellybeans and foil-covered chocolate eggs. Later, there were dangly earrings, or perfume; one year, a glass vial of Love's Baby Soft with a roll-on applicator. I didn't always have a new dress or shoes for Easter. But I did have a beribboned wicker basket with trinkets and candy inside. And I always had a belly full of sugar by the time I arrived at Mass, decked out in the new jewelry, maybe already wearing the new nail polish or the perfume.
Don't forget to visit the other Color Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts. Just click on the links below:
Annie at Knitsofacto
Sandra at Cherry Heart
Gillian at Tales from a happy house.
CJ at Above the River
What is The Color Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a color related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about color in new ways.