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NATURAL EASTER EGG DYES

 

The egg has long been the symbol of rebirth. In many cultures, the egg was given as a special gift. It was, of course, spruced up by different decorative methods. It was wrapped in gold leaf or brightly colored by boiling with leaves, fruits and flowers, and vegetables.

Before the egg became associated with Easter it was part of the spring ceremonies of many cultures including the Greeks and Chinese. The egg was considered the symbol of the universe. It was believed that the universe was created from a great egg. Heaven and earth were thought to have been formed from the two halves of an egg.

In England in 1290 AD, King Edward I spend a great deal of money to purchase decorated eggs to be given to the people of his house. During the seventeenth century Pope Paul V blessed the egg in a prayer.

Eggs are decorated in every country but none take it quite as seriously as the people of Poland. There, they create the intricate designs fashioned by dye and wax. These are the eggs commonly with a black or red background with sheaves of wheat, deer, and geometric designs emblazoned upon them. These eggs are called pysanki and there is a legend that if enough of these eggs are not produced during the season, the world will end. The Pennsylvania Dutch make intricate designs on their eggs as well. They dye them naturally with onion skins which produces a brown color. Then they scratch designs into the shells with sharp knives and needles scraping away little bits of the dye.

Although it is easy to go to the store and purchase a commercial Easter Egg Coloring Kit, there are many natural substances that can be used to dye Eggs. In most cases these substances will not produce the "bright" colors that a commercial dye will. Your eggs will take on a more pastel and translucent effect. It is fun and educational to try some of these natural dyes.

Here are the steps to natural dying:

  1. Place raw eggs in the bottom of a large pan
  2. Cover with tepid water
  3. Add about a teaspoon of white vinegar
  4. Add the natural dye ingredients (see below)
  5. Bring the contents in the pan to a boil
  6. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes depending on the shade you wish to achieve. The longer it boils, the darker the shade. Of course, the longer the boil, the more inedible the egg will be.
  7. Remove any solid dye substance and pour water and eggs carefully into a bowl. If you wish them to be a darker color, leave them in the bowl and refrigerate over night. Never leave eggs out of refrigeration for more than one hour. If you do, don't eat them. You could get food poisoning from them.
  8. Remove the eggs from the water and let them dry in egg cartons.

Always remember to refrigerate your eggs once they dry.

Here are some natural dyes for your eggs:

 

Basically, any food substance that stains can be used to dye eggs.

A mottled effect can be made by wrapping the egg in leaves or ferns before placing in the dye.

Make the Pennsylvania Dutch egg effect by dying your eggs brown, then scratch a design in the shell with a sharp knife. Be very careful because if you scratch too hard the egg will break.

Experiment with different substances or mix them to create new and improved natural colors. Most of all, have fun!

 

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