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.
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.
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.
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!