Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Color Collaborative: March: Egg


Each year, just before Easter, my family dyes eggs together. It's a long tradition for me, going back to childhood when my siblings and I would dye eggs on Good Friday. Then, as now, we used a basic Paas brand egg-dyeing kit, with fizzy little tablets that bloom into brightly-colored dyes when mixed with water and vinegar in a bowl. I've written about our egg-dyeing before; it's one of my favorite holiday traditions. It's fun, sitting around the kitchen table coloring our eggs. We use large, white eggs from the supermarket, the better to achieve the garish tones of the Paas dyes. It's a time of creativity and anticipation - there's a lovely holiday just around the corner and everyone is excited.


This year, for the first time, I tried coloring eggs with homemade dyes. I love those Paas dyes and look forward to dyeing eggs with my family this weekend, but I've always been intrigued by the idea that you can also dye eggs with natural ingredients. I knew the colors would be different from eggs colored with Paas dyes, but wasn't sure exactly what to expect. I came across a page in the March 2016 issue of Sunset magazine with instructions for easy natural egg dyes and decided this would be the year I gave it a shot. (There are lots of resources for natural egg-dyeing, but theirs is a handy little guide). Sunset's dyes were easy to make and the instructions were simple. I spent a very pleasant afternoon dyeing eggs with various foods from my fridge and pantry.



The magazine offered numerous suggestions for foods to use, such as vegetables, spices and teas. From their suggestions, I chose to try red onion, beet, turmeric, grape juice and tea (they suggested raspberry or blueberry tea, but I didn't have either of those so I used a red hibiscus-based tea instead). I also used paprika, thinking it might work similarly to turmeric, and green tea. There was some cooking involved (for the onion and beet), and the spices and teas required boiling water. The grape juice was used straight. Each of the natural dyes required a mordant ingredient, according to Sunset's instructions, to help the dye work better: onion and tea had 1/8 teaspoon of alum; paprika, turmeric and grape juice had 1/4 teaspoon baking powder; beet had a teaspoon of white vinegar.




I have to admit that I was a bit dubious about what I'd end up with. I knew, from my limited experience with fabric- and yarn-dyeing, that some dyes look very different by the end of the process, and that a lot depends on the item being dyed too. I used white supermarket eggs for these natural dyes, as I would with the Paas dyes, because I really wanted to see the colors in a purer way for my first try.


The eggs sat in their respective dye baths for several hours. I mostly left them alone, just letting them soak in the dyes, then I removed them to a rack to dry, with paper towels underneath to catch drips. When I use Paas dyes, I tend to dip the eggs up and down a lot, or spoon the dye over the egg repeatedly, in order to achieve deeper colors. I like a uniform coloration. I knew that the natural dyes might work differently, though, so I decided to let them work without all the extra help. It was surprisingly difficult for me to stay away from them. The children did better than me.


I was honestly amazed at the results. I expected lots of color from the beets and only got a faint, mottled purple-brown color. Interesting, but disappointing after the mess of working with beets. The paprika was faint too, and I wondered whether I should have tried chili powder instead. The tea-dyed eggs were by far my favorite ones! Can you believe the color I got from the red tea? It was totally unexpected. I thought for sure I'd get a red, or maybe brown, not a green-gray. The green tea was surprising too; I really thought the color would be more faint. Turmeric is generally what I imagined, but the ends took on a very pretty rusty-gold, darker and richer than the yellow middle section. The boldest eggs were the ones dyed with red onion and grape juice. Look at the red onion eggs! Dark, splotchy greenish-black, they look reptilian. The grape juice eggs are the most intense, I think. Their white-streaked midnight-blue reminds me of lapis lazuli; I can almost picture a scarab beetle carved into one of them.


This is not the eye-popping Easter rainbow that I'm accustomed to, but it's a very interesting one and I'm really glad I tried dyeing with natural ingredients. Like their vernal holiday counterparts, foil-wrapped chocolate eggs and jellybeans, dyed Easter eggs can run the entire spectrum.

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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 Annie Cholewa
Sarah at mitenska
 
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.

34 comments:

  1. Those eggs are amazing. I especially like the red tea and turmeric ones. Isn't it funny about the beetroot? I'm caught red handed for ages after making Borscht, you'd think it would be a really vibrant red. Thanks for the inspiration and have a very Happy Easter. xx

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  2. Love the colours, they look like vintage eggs. What a lovely tradition to have xx

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  3. I like their marble-like textures.
    Amalia
    xo

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  4. These are very creative - I love the colors :)

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  5. I love those colours, we dyed with turmeric a few weeks ago so I knew what colour they would go but some are such a suprise. Like veggie mummy if ever I cook with beet my hands are covered in the colour for days, I look like I have been up to no good! I lovely way to find out the colours without ruining a piece of cloth ;). They look amazing.

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  6. I absolutely love that you made your own natural dyes, and the colours are lovely. As you say, the red tea is astonishing. Who knew? The turmeric is a beautiful sunshiny yellow as well. Amazing to see how differently things can turn out. CJ xx

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  7. Gosh that grape-juice blue is gorgeous. What a great idea. Have a lovely Easter Jennifer. Sam x

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  8. They looks so beautiful Jennifer. My favourite is the red tea - so strange it came out that lovely green colour! I wish you and your family a wonderful Easter weekend. x

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  9. The resulting colours are really interesting - green from red tea? I'm really surprised by that. We don't have a tradition of colouring eggs (although we did try egg painting yesterday) and I'm curious. Are they just for decorations or do you still use them for cooking afterwards? Hope you enjoy the Easter holidays!

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  10. That is interesting! We (well, I) eat a lot of beetroot in this house and yes, it does stain everything in that alarming pink colour. I wonder what you'd have to use to achieve a red/pink shade with eggs?
    I suspect Annie will know!
    I like the red tea best too, and the grape juice. Perhaps it would be an alternative to dyeing with indigo?
    We could do with decorating the house for Easter, I think. There's nothing here (other than carefully hidden chocolate eggs) to suggest the holiday so maybe we'll remedy that later.
    Have a wonderful Easter with your family.
    S x

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  11. I love your tradition of dyeing eggs at Easter. It's amazing how the colours come out, isn't it, not what you'd expect at all.

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  12. I love the colors you got. Very natural looking and surprising how they turned out, especially that's there's no red to be seen in the bunch. The blue is awesome. We always colored eggs at my Mammaw's house using food coloring and vinegar, teacups and teaspoons. And there was always a big egg hunt in the backyard. Happy Easter!

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  13. Wow. We're a die-hard Paas family too and have never tried natural dyes, so, it's so fun to read your post. Your eggs turned out beautifully! I might miss the pretty pinks and reds, but what a fun experiment!

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  14. I must say I like the end result all very natural. The red onion really dint take , it wasn't what I expected. I cant believe its a month since the last colour post.
    Happy Easter Jennifer

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  15. What a fun project, Jennifer! It's so strange that the colours come out so different than the colours of the objects you source the dyes from. They are very beautiful, especially the green tea egg. Have fun decorating your eggs together this weekend, and I hope your family has a very Happy Easter.

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  16. What a great project and a wonderful tradition. I was surprised by some of the results, particularly the beetroot. Have a great Easter.

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  17. The colours are really surprising. I thought the beetroot one would be, well, beetroot coloured!

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  18. Red tea and red onion.. there's a red thing going on here.. fabulous colours. Happy Easter Jennifer x

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  19. So, so interesting! I'm amazed that paprika and beetroot didn't give you more depth of colour, but my very limited knowledge of dyeing I seem to remember that the colour of the original ingredient isn't always the same as the finished result. But what fun! Xx

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  20. This very natural dye thing is on my 'agenda' this weekend.....I did it last year and loved seeing the surprises...although I'm going to have to add the tea this year. Didn't do any last year....and I LOVE your results!! I remember tumeric being quite vivid....and I think I used avocado skins....but for the life of me don't remember the results. A do over, maybe?

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  21. We usually use Paas dyes, too. This year our local newspaper had a 'how to use natural dyes for Easter eggs' article and I realize now I somehow did not save the article as I intended to. I love that you found a how to source and gave it a try, Jennifer! Thanks for another interesting post! Happy Easter to you and yours :) xx

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  22. We always used Paas dye too. I love the way your eggs turned out!

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  23. This is so interesting Jennifer, and you have achieved some lovely subtle colours. I like the tea colours best too. Wishing you and the bears a very happy and blessed Easter from Australia.

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  24. These are wonderful colours you got Jennifer! The grape juice are not unexpected, but what a beautiful shade of blue! I love it when you get a completely different colour than what you would expect. I'll bet your kids enjoyed that aspect too.
    I have dyed eggs with the brown skins of small ordinary onions with my sister. We wrapped the eggs in the skins with raw rice trapped between the egg and the onion skin. We secured the onion skins with elastic bands and simmered them in water over the stove. They turned out very cool (brown) and I still have them. I have always blown out the eggs so that we can keep them ... forever ...
    Happy Easter!
    Wendy

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  25. Great eggs! Our daughter is grown and living half a world away, but I still dye eggs for Easter.

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  26. Such lovely and subtle earthy tones! They are beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing the process with us.

    -Soma

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  27. I think that it's awesome that you experimented with your own dyes! I wonder if you could use Kool-Aid? My favorite is the turmeric ones. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  28. Such fun to see what colours the eggs will turn out with natural dyes...often so unexpected! I like your vintage style eggs! Happy Easter to you all.
    Helen xox

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  29. I love reading about people's holiday traditions. The eggs you have dyed look beautiful.
    Marianne x

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  30. Hey Jennifer,
    I do like this holiday tradition of yours. The Paxton's don't really have any at Easter time. e tend to coast through the long bank holiday, getting out and about if the weather allows, have a chippy tea on Good Friday (a nod to the no meat thing), hiding eggs for the children to find. Your homemade dyes are really rather beautiful. I prefer things not so garish, and these are right up my alley. Lovely collaborative post, as always.
    Leanne xx

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  31. Jennifer you do the most interesting projects. I think my favorite is that vibrant blue. How cool! Blessings, Betsy

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  32. Fascinating! The dark blue is astonishing. What an interesting craft project. I used to paint and decorate eggs every year with the boys when they were small, but they are no longer interested, and this year I didn't have time to do any myself. I missed it actually X

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