Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Color Collaborative: April: Tradition


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.


Easter dinner, then as now, features our dyed eggs. We eat our eggs plain, sprinkled with salt and pepper, the whites palely tinged with pastel colors. My mother made deviled eggs, her own recipe, which I didn't appreciate as a child. I hated mustard and I thought pickle relish should only go on hot dogs. Eventually, I learned to enjoy them. Today, I set my Easter table with a pretty egg at each place, to be eaten with our dinner. The eggs make the holiday for me, simple as they are. They're as much a part of the meal as the ham, or the asparagus. We peel our eggs at the table, dye again staining our fingertips. Our egg tradition is important, as are the memories we're making. My children, too, will remember rainbow eggs, candy-induced bellyaches and a whiff of vinegar in the air.

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 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 

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.

41 comments:

  1. What a wonderful tradition, certainly one to start for my Grandchildren. We go for a walk to collect sticks and then decorate them with little ornaments. Have a good week.

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  2. I loved joining your family here for this egg dying adventure. It brought back memories of dying eggs with my kids, we used the same kit. Your eggs turned out wonderful!

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  3. Wow, just beautiful!! Hugs :-)

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  4. What a great tradition, I so enjoyed reading this. I have never dyed eggs, it's just not something we did when I was a child, but I'd like to try it, it looks like a lot of fun. I've been told you can dye peeled eggs by covering them in herbs then wrapped them in an old stocking so that when you unpeel the stocking and herbs, the leaves will have left a beautiful pattern on the egg. One to try next year maybe. x

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  5. What a fabulous tradition, things which all the family get involved in are the best. Just look at the concentration on your children's faces. I've never dyed eggs, I feel like I've missed out now.

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  6. Oh, how very lovely, on so many levels. It's wonderful to have traditions, and those eggs just look so beautiful. Happy Easter! :)

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  7. Hello Jennifer,

    We have discovered you via the delightful Gillian and what fun it is to have arrived.

    It is amazing to think of you and your family in New Mexico dyeing eggs which is also an ancient tradition here in our adopted home of Hungary. Each year at Easter the dyeing kits come out and all manner of jewelled creations grace the dining table along with the traditional baked ham, boiled potatoes and horseradish sauce. We have certainly grown fond of this tradition and look forward to it each year.

    Clearly, for you this is an all embracing family enterprise and your finished eggs look exceedingly professional. Lovely that you all work at this together.

    We have signed up as followers and shall return.

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  8. I've never dyed an egg but it really does look like a great tradition to start. White shelled eggs are not common in the supermarkets here but you can get them at farm shops. Such beautiful colours in your photographs too...what a lovely post :)

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  9. You are such a thoughtful mom, Jennifer. I love how you interact with your children, and how you cherish your time with them. They are going to have such wonderful memories of their childhood when they look back on it!

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  10. Beautiful post Jennifer! One of the hardest moments of my transition to British culture was the fact that 99% of eggs sold here are brown, so no one dyes eggs! How I miss the Paas kit! My mom sent over my Easter basket, the one I've had since birth, to console me. I so enjoy seeing your photos here and reading about the dyes and vivid hues! Chrissie x

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  11. All the while I was scrolling this post I was thinking how gorgeously artistic this entire post looks ! BEautiful time and lovely colorful post ... really made me remember fondly when we use to sit around the table and color eggs together as well .

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  12. An enchanting post, Jennifer, full of family love and tradition. We always used to dye our eggs with onion skin as children and paint them with our ordinary water-colour paints - nothing so professional or artistic as yours. We did the same with our children, but the eggs weren't meant for eating, but for egg-rolling down the hill - a very old British tradition. The only Easter gifts were chocolate eggs, given to us by our parents and grandparents, not hidden by the Easter bunny. :-)

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  13. I think you commented on CJ's post about different traditions around the world, and I am fascinated by this one. In my experience although we do dye eggs here - with onion skins when I was a kid, just like Perpetua's family - we don't then eat them. How wonderful to gather with your family to make such jewels, and your pictures drew me in until I almost felt that I was there with you :)

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  14. Beautiful post , it is such an evocative post .Im envious of your beautiful tradition. Such beautiful colours.

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  15. It's funny Jennifer, but dying eggs isn't done so much over here anymore and I don't know why - it looks like so much fun! My children would love it, that's for sure. I haven't even seen the kits sold, just normal egg painting (not dying)! You have made me really want to do this next year, it just looks right up our street and a great family tradition to have. Hmmm, I think I would be like you too and have one solid colour (although I am really impressed with the striped egg in your photos)! :)

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  16. I always use to dye eggs as a child at Easter, but didn't carry the tradition on as didn't know what to do with them! Lovely colours and a lovely tradition to share. Sarah x

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  17. Hi Jennifer,

    Such fun and a great family tradition for you all to do - love all the pretty coloured eggs and enjoyed seeing your photos. We used to do that when our children were small.
    Happy Friday
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  18. What beautiful colours - thanks for sharing this and reminding me of our long forgotten tradition of rolling eggs at Easter.

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  19. Jennifer, what a wonderful family tradition. All your eggs turned out lovely. Even with my blogging break I'll have to make sure I stop by to read your current posts. -I really enjoy your blog friend. :) Great post and what lovely memories to cherish.

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  20. I love the traditions you are instilling in your children. They are very lucky to have such wonderful parents. I also love deep colors on eggs. I just used some of our leftover Easter eggs to make my mom's potato salad which we're eating with our leftover Easter ham.. at the beach.. in our trailer. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  21. They're so gorgeous and bright! Must do this with my kids!

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  22. I also grew up with this tradition in Scotland, Jennifer - sometimes dyed with old stockings or tea but most times we painted them either in patterns or faces and stuck cotton wool and the likes on to complete the picture; great fun! It's lovely to see you and your children enjoying such traditions too and I love the brightness of your dyes, such fresh clear colours! Joy xo

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  23. What a lovely family tradition. I've got to say that I like the jewel-like quality of your 'single colour' egg! I hope that you had a great Easter break with your family. Jx

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  24. I have never done this with my children. They are bothe grown up now 25 and 16 but I think they would like to try. Next Easter we will be dyeing eggs. Lovely post.
    Rosezeeta.

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  25. I grew up with this tradition, too. I have stopped a few years ago but someday, I will go back to this tradition. We dyed our eggs by boiling them in an onion skin infusion. We would place herbs on the eggs and secure them with an piece of old nylon tights. After boiling, we cut off the tights, peeled of the herbs and revealed a beautiful image of the herb on the egg, sometimes greenish but mostly just egg coloured. We would then rub the eggs with butter to make them all shine and place them in a nest of hay. My mum still makes those eggs for herself. Thanks for sharing your family tradition Jennifer. xx

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  26. That's such a nice thing to do with your family, I bet your little ones keep the tradition on.

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  27. What a lovely tradition. I've never dyed eggs before, I'm not sure if you can even get dyes like that over here but I love the idea of it. I think that's one of my favorite things about being a Mum. Enjoying with my child to the things I enjoyed with my parents. Handing down warm happy memories.

    S x

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  28. Your family tradition is so beautiful Jennifer, and the eggs look brilliant. Love the turquoise/blue the best! I have never dyed eggs, and now I wish I had. Maybe we will try it with the grandchildren some day. Thank you for sharing this special Easter project.

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  29. I have never dyed eggs but feel maybe the beginnings of a new tradition - thank you for sharing your beautiful colourful post x

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  30. I vaguely remember having dyed eggs when I was young, but couldn't say for sure if that really happened. Our tradition was a Good Friday Hike and we would take a packed lunch to be cooked over a small fire in the woods. We hiked all morning, ate a hot feast (complete with homemade hot cross buns) and then hiked back to the car. We continued this tradition with my sisters and all our kids up until a couple of years ago. I did dye eggs with my own kids, however, and we used blown out eggs so we could preserve them for years (still have them). For us it was the "effect" rather than the colour. My favourites are a brown dye from onion skins wrapped around the egg with bits of uncooked rice tucked in the skins. Very cool swirly effect. I love all your bright Easter eggs, and I think it's so nice that your husband and father too get in on the action. Your kids have lots of special times with your family to think of fondly as they grow older. Wendy x

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  31. We dyed eggs this year too even but made ours into confetti eggs. Now that our kids are older they really enjoy chasing each other in the yard and smashing them over their heads. It's great fun to watch and participate and like anything else, our Easter traditions have changed a little over time with the growing children. Enjoyed seeing the photos of your family making memories.

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  32. I love your tradition of putting a dyed egg at each place at dinner. Wonderful! My kids are grown and gone so it's been a while since I dyed eggs. I think I might just have to take it up again next Easter - just for the fun of it!

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  33. This post brought me right back to the kitchen table of my childhood home where all five of us worked on our eggs exactly as you have described here! The Paas plain sets are the best I think - I was never satisfied with the "neons" and other fancy variations I tried when my own kids were young. Like you, I leave my eggs in the dye cup as long as I can so I'll have the bright jewel tones too. Pastels? Why even bother?

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  34. What a lovely tradition to pass on to your children and future grandchildren. What memories your children will take with them into adulthood. Lovely post Jennifer. Thanks for sharing your special time with us.
    Patricia x

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  35. I loved this post very much......the eggs look so pretty in those lovely clear colours, and I love the way you have continued the family tradition with your own children.
    Happy weekend.
    Helen xox

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  36. Jennifer.... The details of this post just put me in a different time! I felt as though I was right there experiencing all of this! The eggs that your family makes are beautiful! We grew up using plain old food coloring but I think I would like to start using this kit! I love that you eat your eggs as well... As a child we always did as nothing ever went to waste. And when you mentioned loves baby soft that really brought back memories! Such an outstanding post! Wishing you all a wonderful weekend! Nicole xoxo

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  37. We'll be trying this next year! That turquoise one is so beautiful.
    Sarah x

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  38. I can remember those days so well, especially little pudgy hands all bright and colorful! One of our favorite traditions was to reuse the children's baskets each year. I bought good sturdy ones for each of their first Easters, let them play with them for a few days after Easter, then put them away until a few days before the next Easter. We always had lots of pre-Easter egg hunts (with plastic eggs), and then the kiddos would put the grass in them and leave them out for the Easter Bunny to fill.

    I made little crocheted baskets for our two youngest grands this year. They were each different because I made up my own pattern as I went along, but they were big enough for a small chocolate bunny and some candy jewelry. They turned out pretty cute (for a novice like me), and they can use them to hold barrettes or something else little. I'm glad we still have 2 who are totally into the Easter Bunny fantasy -- makes their Nana very happy!

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  39. Your dyed eggs are so pretty! We didn't get around to that this year. And your Easter dinner looks really delicious! I love your tablecloth.

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  40. I especially like the dark plain colors, too, Jennifer, and associate the pungent scent of vinegar with the tradition as well. xx

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