Sunday, March 22, 2015

natural dye easter eggs

i am intrigued by the process of dyeing things with the colors of nature.  i've wanted to try natural dyeing of fabric for a while and thought it would be a good idea to dip my toe in by coloring a few easter eggs with food and plant material.

full disclosure:  this project was messy and time-intensive and a day later my kitchen still smells of boiled cabbage. the eggs didn't turn out exactly as i had planned but once i let go of what i thought they should look like, their quirky beauty radiated.

more disclosure:  i became so impatient with the process and the mess that i failed to properly record the recipes for each color.  i followed recipes from here and here.  my eggs looked different.  so i'm not sure that it matters if you follow the recipes.

you will need a lot of glass containers.

and a variety of foods and spices.  i began with both brown and white eggs.  for the colors, i used what i had on hand:  blueberries (frozen), turmeric, matcha green tea, hibiscus flowers, grape juice, purple cabbage and beets for the colors. sometimes i added salt; sometimes vinegar (here is where i neglected to record).

i did two methods of cooking and dyeing.  first i hard-boiled the eggs with the coloring material.  to prevent the eggs from becoming rubbery, i simmered them for only 15 minutes at the same time the color was being extracted from the plant material.  in a second batch, i hard-boiled the eggs separately in my steamer, then put them in the color. either way, you have to hard-boil the eggs and you have to cook the color.  the second method produced a more saturated dye, as i was able to cook the color longer.

for the color, put your fruit/veg/spice material in a pan with water.  bring to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes.

for more intense colors, you must soak the eggs in the color overnight in the refrigerator.  apparently, the vinegar is what makes the color adhere (i write "apparently" because this result was not consistent in my experimentation).

when you pull your eggs from the color, be careful how you touch them.  the color rubs off pretty easily when they are wet.

the purply-black eggs are colored with hibiscus flowers.  they were my favorite until i pulled out the rose and sea green eggs.  the sea green is oddly produced with purple cabbage and salt on a brown egg.  the bright blue eggs are purple cabbage on white eggs.

a few hours into this project, i had my doubts.  but the results are quite lovely.

i am excited to try dyeing fabric though.  because i can just imagine an oversized cotton gauze scarf in this sublime color: