Coloring and decorating Easter eggs is one of the best parts of the holiday because people of all ages can join in and show off their own style of creativity with artistic flair...and then there are the bonuses of deviled eggs and egg salad that follow. There are many commercially produced Easter egg decorating kits available but it’s more fun to use your imagination and items found in and around home to embellish the eggs.
Dying eggs can be messy, so set up your supplies on a washable crafts table, or cover a kitchen or dining room table with a plastic tablecloth or drop cloth. Create holders for the eggs to dry in with the bottoms of egg cartons or the cardboard tubes from paper towels cut into 2-inch sections. Have plenty of flatware tablespoons available to turn the eggs and remove them to dry; using just one will mix the colors and ruin their vibrancy. Keep lots of paper towels on the table to wipe up spills. Most coloring solutions call for white vinegar, which helps the color bind to the eggshells. If you are using other mediums to decorate the eggs, add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water you boil them in.
Pure silk imparts eggs with dazzling colors and patterns…and it’s a great way to use up old neckties in the back of the closet. Thrift stores are also an excellent place to gather silk ties at bargain basement prices. Remove the linings and tags and cut the fabric in pieces big enough to completely cover the egg. Wrap the eggs with the top side (the most colorful side) of the fabric against the shell. Wrap them again in cheesecloth or pieces of old pantyhose to keep the silk in place. The wrapping has to have a loose weave so the liquid can saturate the silk. Secure the outer wrapping on each end with rubber bands or twist ties. Place the eggs in a glass or enamel pot, cover them with cold water, add 3 tablespoons of white vinegar, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the eggs to a holder and when they are cool enough to handle, remove the covering, and let them dry.
Eggs with patterns on them add pizzazz to Easter baskets and Easter dinner centerpieces. You can make tie-dyed eggs by placing hard cooked eggs in a colander, splashing them with vinegar, and dripping yellow food coloring on them. Slowly roll them around in the colander to get color on all the eggs. After 30 seconds, add a different color and repeat the process. When the colors have set, gently rinse the eggs with water and let dry. Another easy method requires squares of aluminum foil cut big enough to cover an egg. Crumple it up and carefully unfold it flat on the tabletop. Coat the foil with acrylic paint and wrap it securely around the egg to make the paint stick. Unwrap and let dry. You can also coat bubble wrap with paint and roll the eggs back and forth until the desired pattern is achieved. To make speckled eggs, dip an old toothbrush in paint and run your fingers over the bristles over the egg to create spots, turning to color all sides. Another easy way to create patterns on eggs is to cover light bulb sleeves or other small pieces of corrugated cardboard with acrylic paint and roll the eggs over the surface before drying. For eggs with geometric patterns, tie string around hard cooked eggs or encircle them with several rubber bands. Dye them in traditional coloring mixtures and let them dry. When you remove the string, the eggs will have white stripes all over them.
Hard cook some eggs and while they are still warm, roll them in a shallow pan with grated crayons in it. The heat will melt the crayon and create a colorful, bumpy finish. You can also rub the warm eggs with several different layers of crayon to get a heavier coating. Less messy options include using ribbon sections to wrap around the egg, secured with a dot of household glue or attaching stickers from craft and hobby stores to the shells. For personalized eggs, place adhesive, cursive alphabet letters on each egg, dye them, and remove the letters to reveal the monogram.
Dye a bunch of eggs bright yellow and decorate them like smiley faces with sharp-tipped black permanent felt tip pins. For variety, draw some crazy faces, hair, and moustaches on them. Cut ears and noses from thin pieces of colored foam rubber and turn the eggs into bunnies and chickens. You can “dress” the eggs with skirts made from construction paper glued around the center.
Use large herb leaves such as mint, cilantro, dill or thyme or small fern leaves to decorate eggs through reverse stenciling. Place the leaf on the egg and hold it in place with old pantyhose sections or cheesecloth tied at either end. Dye the eggs and then remove the covering and leaf to reveal a lovely design.
You can make natural dyes for eggs from common fruits and vegetables. The recipe calls for a handful of dye ingredients for each cup of water. Simmer the mixture for about 15 minutes until the color is deep, keeping in mind the color of the eggs will be much paler than the liquid. Strain and cool the liquid and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of vinegar for each cup of water. For blue eggs, use canned blueberries, purple grape juice, or red cabbage leaves. Strong coffee or black tea creates brown or beige eggs. Chili powder turns out brownish orange eggs, and turmeric will give you golden eggs. Dye made from boiled spinach dyes eggs green, and boiled yellow onion skins, carrots or paprika will color eggs orange. Beets, pickled beet juice, raspberries or grape juice will dye eggs a pleasing shade of pink and if you want bright red eggs, color them with dye made from boiled red onion skins, canned cherries in syrup, or pomegranate juice.