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Anything that is white risks being dyed at my house… so this time it’s the eggs! Perfect, since Easter is around the corner. Easter eggs printed with Botanicals are shockingly beautiful and super easy to do!

The Magic Dye:

I keep a mesh veggie bag under my counter where I collect the dry yellow onion skins (they don’t smell) and I have even been known to ‘clean out’ the bottom of the bin at the grocery store. Those skins produce the most rich warm hues of yellow to dark red. I’ve used them when dyeing wool (protein fibre) and it amazed me there as well. Use a medium sized pot that will give depth without having too much water added.

The key to having the most amazing richness of colour from the onion skins is how much you use. I ‘cram’ in as much skins (cut smaller if needed) as possible into a pot with water and add more as they cook, a little bit of vinegar will help the shells absorb the colour. As they cook they will soften and shrink and emit the wonderful colours from their tannins. Let it simmer on low heat.

The Botanicals:

It seems that this year Canada has forgotten that it’s time to warm up for spring so getting fresh botanical leaves was impossible. Sooooo, the grocery store is the next best thing as certain house plants are poisonous.

I look for nice leaf texture and small size; parsley, baby arugula, and carrot tops are easy to find but any leaves will work. This method is somewhat like Eco Printing but uses the ‘resist’ method to create the leaf shapes.

The Trick to wrapping:

Go find some old pantyhose or socks (transparent is best) and stretch it over a small glass/mug. Place the leaves over it anticipating how they will be placed on the egg.

Let the egg sink into the cup and the leaves will wrap around the egg.

Push the egg down and keep hold of the outsides of the hose. Add leaves on top of desired. You can be fussy or just ‘wing it’ for interesting results.

Grab the edges and pull tight together and twist closed with a twist-tie. How easy was that?! The hose makes great even pressure and full colour will permeate.

The Dyeing:

Sink the egg into the liquid, possibly moving some skins aside to have it submerge.

Let it simmer while you prepare more. The longer the simmer the colour will become richer! Pull it out when desired and brush off any skins.

The Reveal:

Notice my lovely stained fingers? Eco printing, especially with iron does make for some ‘colourful’ fingers! But no problem; lemon juice will nicely clean them up afterward.

I am utterly amazed at the intricate details that the botanicals print on the eggs. ‘Maybe the fact that they are not floating in a huge amount of liquid does help.

You are not limited to only using leaves, you can use grasses, string, rice, lace, whatever has nice details. Always think outside the box! (oh darn, a bunch of new ideas just popped into my head…)

The range of colours from light yellow to rich indian red can also be modified with iron and acidity.

Being an illustrator this amount of detail baffles my mind. No drawing or painting was needed… Well, ok, Mother Nature provided the ‘art’!

You will never look at carrot tops the same again after dyeing these. For a nice sheen rub on some oil (mineral, coconut or olive) and you are done. These are for decorative purposes only as some may not be completely cooked. I leave them full and they will eventually dry out inside but you may also use blown eggs. (submerge them in the skins to cover)

How ‘Egg-squisite’ are these? I could NOT leave well-enough lone; so check out my next post to see how these were taken to the next level…

Happy making & Happy Easter!

barbmaker

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 25 Comments
  1. These are gorgeous! Such beautiful colour and detail! I would love to try this, but haven’t been saving my onion skins — what an oversight! I may have to go clean out some grocery store bins… I’m so impatient for new green growth here in Ottawa, but it just keeps on snowing.

    1. Yes, as I wrote this morning it was snowing here too! I am also thinking of visiting my favourite florist with promises of making her an eco print apron in exchange for rose/eucs leaves… I got a big bag of skins and cashier didn’t charge. happy printing… and there will be a follow up one as well.

  2. I use onion skins for dying wool. The yellow ones make a perfect orange for needle felting Halloween pumpkins which can also be used for pin-cushions!. I make a strong solution for deep orange, then re-use the solution for a lighter (more traditional) orange,) then I use the solution a third time which makes a neat lemon yellow color. And, by the way, red onion skins make a beautiful blue. Yes, BLUE.
    On another topic, Barb, will all your “lessons” be always available on your website? My laptop can’t download, and I worry about being able to access some of them in the future, since I can’t try to do them all right away.

    1. Thanks for the info! I did get that deep orange and have dyed some wool blankets as well. It is quite amazing. I did not get the blue with the red onions but I suspect it may be a PH issue. Yes, I will have all the posts on my site. So much to figure out… so little time. More eggs to come.

  3. Barb – That is incredible! The amount of detail you get is astonishing. Those eggs are truly stunning.

    My mind immediately went to an image of an egg with feather prints (instead of leaves), reminiscent of eggs nestled in a feather-lined nest. But my concern is that the individual barbules or “hairs” comprising a feather would clump up and print as a blob, rather than providing the rich detail you get. Although perhaps pantyhose would mitigate that. Have you tried printing feathers?

    1. In that crazy brain of mine I do think it could be a possibility but you’d need the right kind of feathers like the duck or larger foul ones not the fine ones you see in craft packages. If those details from the carrot tops managed to print then I see it happening. Oh, come to think of it I think I have some feathers somewhere… IF I make more I will try! Happy Easter!

  4. These are absolutely gorgeous. Reminds me of younger days….50 yrs ago…when we used to forage the “bush” for tiny flowers and leaves to wrap around our eggs with onion skins and boil at Easter time. Who know we were “Eco Printing” at such a young age!

    1. Wow! It all has to start some way and then it goes in all directions to be modified and made into much more! I do have an appreciation for all the forefathers (mothers)! Happy Easter!

  5. Barb, how did you get the deep brown color? Those are the most attractive to me. Would adding some egg shells to the onion skins help? Thanks for answering everyone’s questions, you are so patient and kind.

  6. I am such a fan of your blog. Right after I first read this post I found the produce man at our market slipping the peels off onions. We had a nice chat while he finished and then he helped me bag up the onion skins. I love the eggs I dyed, even though I used the only stockings I had, which were black and made the results even more of a surprise! Thank you, as always, for sharing ideas and inspiration.

  7. Love your blog! Have you ever tried using eco dye on your concrete projects? I just love the colors you get from botanicals and wondered if could work on concrete and sealed some how. Thanks again for your wonderful art👩‍🎨

    1. It has crossed my mind when I see the prints left on the sidewalks but then I also notice they don’t stay. Generally I find that finishes on concrete don’t last completely since it likes to breathe. Also the alkalinity probably plays a factor in the printing where eco printing uses the tannic acids. So much science! I am going to embark on leather though…
      Happy Making!

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