You likely realize by now that I love dying eggs. I have at least two different blog posts on it. Well, we did it again this year, and it may be my best year yet. Last year, I really felt that we could use a little more pinks and purples in the mix. You can find that post here: Wax Resist Naturally Dyed Eggs. I tried several different dye material. Some were successful; others not so much. Below you’ll find how we dyed our eggs. The process of making dyes is described in the blog post above, so if you haven’t made dyes, check that out. I also included a video of our process from start to finish at the end of this post.
In this post you’ll find:
New Colors We Tried
As I mentioned, I felt like our pinks and purples were missing from last year. Lots of sites recommend beets for the pinks, but I have never been able to get any color other than gray from beets. I tried several different dye materials, including elderberry, madder root (from Dharma Trading Co.), grape juice, cherry juice, and avocado. Below is a table of what colors I was looking for, and how it worked out.
|Dye material||Color Desired||Results|
|Elderberry||purple||Definitely gave a purplish tint, but also tended towards brown. I would use again, maybe add a little more vinegar to adjust the color and leave eggs in a little less time.|
|Madder Root (Dharma Trading Co.)||pink||This one worked like a charm. Beautiful pinks. The trick with madder root is to bring it to temp slowly and not allow it to boil. That brings out the nice pink colors. If the heat is too high, it causes the oranges and yellows to be more prominent. Dharma has great info about dying naturally on their site.|
|Grape Juice||purple||This one worked pretty well too. It was slightly acidic though, so it ate at the shell, leaving it with a rough texture. It did not change the appearance though and left a nice light violet color.|
|Cherry||pink||This one was a bust. It was also acidic and ate the cover off the shell, causing the outside layer to peel off. The best we achieved with cherry was grey. Probably won’t use cherry again.|
|Avocado||salmon||I only used this one once. It did turn out a beautiful, lovely salmon color. However, it was so light, we didn’t use it again.|
Click the pictures below to see a larger image.
Tried and True Colors
The following table is a chart of colors that have worked well for us for years. These give us consistent results. I use them every time.
|Turmeric||bright sunny yellow|
|Hibiscus||lovely deep blue with a hint of purple|
|Red Cabbage||turquoise blue (have to leave this one in much longer than the rest for same level of color)|
|Hibiscus and Turmeric||a beautiful green with a slight blue hint|
|Red Cabbage and Turmeric||a spring green color|
|Red Onion||brown with a red tint|
How We did the Wax Resist
The wax resist technique I first saw from Sophie @goldnuss on Instagram. The technique is simple, but creates this beautiful batik-like pattern on the eggs. We collected a few chicken feathers from our coup a few days earlier, and I cut the quills to produce little stamps on a stick. We did a diamond shape, a tear drop, and a triangle. To create the circles, I placed a sewing pin with a ball head on the end a pencil.
Per Sophia’s instructions, I use a potato as a stand for my spoon that I bend it, so that it sits a few inches level over a candle, to hold the beeswax that we are using for resist. When lighting the candle, the beeswax melts, and we dip our hand-made instruments into the wax and stamp them on the egg. You can see an example of a cut feather and the stamping technique in the video.
Dying the Eggs
I had prepared the dyes the day before by boiling the dying material in water, and then placing them in wide-mouth mason jars. Using the book Wild Color by Jenny Dean (affiliate link) I adjusted a couple of the dyes with either vinegar (acid) or borax (base) to achieve the desired color. On page 58, she goes over modifying colors by pH. I talk a little about this in the video. Basically alkalininity (baking soda, borax, washing soda) will cause purples to turn more blue and yellows to turn more pink. Acid (vinegar, citric acid) can be used to turn pinks more yellow and purples to be more pink. Just a little will do. If you add too much acid, it will react to the surface of the eggshell, essentially dissolving it.
Last year, I added borax to turmeric, which resulted in an orange color. Yellow onion provides such a beautiful orange, very similar in hue, that I didn’t bother adjusting the tumeric this year. I don’t remember all my adjustments, but I did add borax to the red onion, and vinegar to the red cabbage. I think I may have added vinegar to the elderberry and grape juice as well.
After I made my adjustments, we place the eggs into our dye. Our eggs have had the insides blown out; they are not hard boiled, so they tended to float. To keep them under, we placed a spoon on top of them, and used a clothes pin to attach the handle of the spoon to the side of the jar. This kept the egg down under the dye. We would check in on them in 10 or 15 minute intervals. Turmeric dyes rather quickly, but otherwise natural dyes take much longer than commercial dyes. Red cabbage dye takes quite a bit longer to achieve a deep, rich color. When we achieved the color we were looking for, we removed the egg (and usually had to drain it) and set it out to dry.
Removing the Wax
After the eggs dried, I removed the wax from my eggs. My children like the wax on their eggs, so they don’t remove it. I like the more batik look of the eggs with the wax removed. The melted wax rubbed on the eggs also give the advantage of a slight sheen to the egg that I think is nice and evens some of the coloration.
There are a couple of different ways to do this. In the past, I’ve used a hair dryer, but this year, I found it easier to use the same candle we melted our wax with. I held the egg, rotating it slightly, a few inches over the flame for several seconds. The heat from the flame melted the wax. I took a paper towel, and gently rubbed the melted wax over the egg. I then flipped the egg the other way, and repeated the process. I then skimmed the egg with my fingers to make sure that I melted all the wax. If there was any left, I just melted that spot and rubbed the egg with the paper towel again. The end result is a beautiful batik-style, polished egg in a gorgeous earth-tone color.
Video of Our Process
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