A perfect way to combine nature with traditional crafts and honour traditions. Eggs have been decorated in many parts of the world for centuries. Techniques vary. Let's follow very common ones by using leaves from the garden and dye to make some beautiful designs, or scratch into a colour surface and create images, or use string to develop patterns. There are so many techniques that it is impossible to describe them all here.
Who can do it?
All ages. However, depending on the techniques, it is advisable to choose very carefully. Not only can it be very messy, certain methods require skills which younger children have yet to acquire. In all cases, supervision is recommended if not essential.
What do I need?
Eggs, of course. If you use colour, be it through painting onto the egg or dying, the lighter the egg colour the better the result. Australian supermarkets rarely have white eggs. Should you have your own chook pen, and your hens lay white eggs, opportunities for decorating techniques are widened, But don’t be distraught. All eggs can be used.
Do I have to empty my egg before I decorate?
That very much depends. If you don’t mind cracking and eating a hardboiled egg after it has been decorated, it doesn’t really matter. Just keep in mind, only food dyes are safe to eat. You will find them in the baking section of any supermarket. If you do mind and want to keep your design, you will have to blow the egg content out by inserting two holes into each end of the egg first. Use a tooth pick or a skewer to undo the egg yolk for easier passage. Blow until all egg mass has left and rinse the egg interior with water (yes, blowing required again). Scrambled eggs made from the blown eggs' content are wonderful, and you can use the eggs in cakes and whatever you can think of.
This technique provides ample space for different ideas. Imagine the scratching tool to be your pencil and develop patterns, landscapes, or visual characters or items.
- Eggs (empty or full)
- Food dye (set up in a jar or container)
- Disposable gloves
- Paper towels
- Scratching instrument
The food dye alone can make for a messy activitiy. Secure your workspace with some plastic sheeting (best) or lots of newspaper material underneath. Use a work area which can easily be cleaned. Outdoors isn’t a bad choice either. Do yourself a favour and wear disposable gloves when working with dye. Your hands covered in colour may improve after some washing, but dye underneath your fingernails takes a little longer….
Add a some vinegar to your dye as a mordant for the dye to take effect.
Gently insert your egg into the dye by using a spoon. Make sure it settles on the bottom without cracking. Leave in there until you feel the colour has reached the wanted shade, suitable for scratching a pattern into it. Take the egg out and dry with paper towel.
Should you use an empty egg, be aware that it will float. Make sure you keep it submerged during the dyeing process so that the entire egg receives it’s colour covering.
Use a strong scratching tool. Craft shops sell them with sharp end and holder, making the work safe. In this particular case (green egg samples depicted), a pair of nail scissors was used. However, the scratching tool from the artshop is a safer and much easier option. Be aware, this is not an activity for younger children.
Eggs with leaf imprints
One of the oldest egg decorating techniques is very much alive today. The ‘ingredients’ are simple and the effect is amazing. Why not try it out yourself?
- ·Eggs (empty or full)
- ·Plant leaves (collected in your garden)
- ·Silk stocking (cut up) and rubber band or string
- ·Food dye (set up in a jar or container))
- ·Disposable gloves
- ·Paper towels
Like in the activity above, cover your work area. Working with food dye can be a messy affair. Use plastic sheeting (best) or lots of newspaper material underneath. The deck, the patio or generally outdoors doesn’t appear to be a bad choice for doing this. Otherwise be very careful. Wear disposable gloves when working with dye.
Set up the food dye in a jar and add a some 100% vinegar to your dye as a mordant for it to take effect.
Collect some small leaves from the garden, lay them out between newspaper pages, use a book or something similar on top to flatten the leaves. Leave for an hour or longer and place onto the egg. Place the egg into a piece of cut up stocking (or similar), tie the material on the side opposite to the leaf and secure with a rubber band or string. Place gently into dye with the help of a spoon, and leave long enough for the colour to take effect.
Take the egg out of the dye, dry with a paper towel, remove the wrapping and remove the leave and marvel at the pattern you have created. If it’s a little blurred, you can try to very gently(!) spray the leaf when still on the newspaper with a cooking oil and place the sprayed side onto the egg before wrapping it. Please note, if you use too much, the image will be runny. Also, the wrapping needs to be done very carefully, as the picture will blur if you move the leaf in the process.
Should you use an empty egg, be aware that it will float. Make sure you keep it submerged during the dyeing process so that the entire eggs receives it’s colour covering.
Again, this activity needs to be done under strict supervision and is not considered suitable for younger children.
Dyed eggs with simple patterns
Young children need a simple approach and a helping hand. If you want them to be part of it, why not let them use wax crayons on the egg. They can create their own design with crayons before you(!) lower the egg into the jar with dye as described above. Their drawing will create a pattern that the dye can’t reach. The wider the stroke the more it will be visible.
Alternatively, you can place beeswax or candle wax onto the egg, press enough for it to adhere to the surface, then dye. At the beginning you will have to warm the wax a little, roll it out and form shapes just like in the photo on right above before you decorate the egg. Once dyed you can take the by now hard wax off the egg and have your pattern.
Stickers are much loved by most children. Why not use little stickers to create a fast result. Stuck onto the egg surface they can be very effective, be it pretty little flowers, stars or others shapes (see above and below). Sometimes it may even be more effective if you leave the stickers on like the stars below, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The colour, by the way, was achieved by combining green and red food dyes.
Eggs covered in yarn, wool, ribbon or other strings.
The photo below shows an assortment of eggs all wrapped up with embroidery yarn which the writer inherited and had no intention of using for the originally intended purpose. What better way than putting the yarn to good use by decorating eggs with it. Be aware, the way the designs were done is very time consuming and demands precision and patience as you glue every single thread on. It's a little easier with wool, hemp or cotten strings, but even then it requires determination and dedication.
Because we are a little too close to Easter this year, and only those with a lot of time and determination will likely tackle this method, we have refrained from giving you step by step instructions. If you like these eggs, have a try, and use empty eggs for the purpose.
Enjoy your family time while decorating eggs!