Sunday, April 24, 2011

Swiss Easter Eggs Tutorial

Let's begin with a quote.

Lara: This is good practice for the nuclear holocaust.
Justin: Why? Are we going to be so bored with life that all we do is dye eggs?
Lara: No - we'll dye our own clothes, of course!

I was inspired by my good friend Maria's post at You Craft Me Up to dye eggs Swiss style. I researched a few methods and this is what I did. Also, it's pretty late and I didn't want to edit my images, so the colors are a little bluish. Sorry!

I decided to make red and blue dye.

For red (which actually turned out more maroon-brown), take the skins of 5 red onions and put it in a pot (btw, if you need an onion, I have plenty!).

For blue, cut up a small purple cabbage.

Gather a few leafy specimens from the great outdoors. In Idaho, spring hasn't really come yet and very little is growing. I did find a few plants though, like dandelions, English ivy, shoots of poppy leaves, wild chives, and bishop's weed. That was enough. As it turned out, the dandelion eggs are my favorites. So don't stress if you can't find a lot of variety.

Place a leaf on a raw egg, then drop it into a knee-high nylon. Cut off excess nylon then tie it off. The egg needs to be pretty snug in the nylon. The toe of the nylon gives you a pre-made end, but you can use the leg part of the nylon too (after you cut off the toe part) and just knot off the end before you slip your egg in.

This is not snug enough. I ended up tying another knot so it the nylon would be tighter.

Place the eggs in the pots and add enough water to cover the eggs and skins/cabbage. Boil for 20 minutes. Feel free to recite Shakespeare's "Double, double, toil and trouble..." because you probably will feel a bit like a witch tending her potions.

the cabbage brew was quite blue. i think the camera picked up on that and turned the whole picture blue. :)

Remove from heat and allow pot contents to cool to room temperature. Remove eggs. Carefully cut away nylons and plants and discard in the trash. Rinse eggs in cool water.

Polish with a little oil on a paper towel for extra gleam. Enjoy!

Our blue eggs came out very pale blue, but still pretty. They remind me of robins' eggs. You have to look very closely to see the leaf patterns. They are quite faint.

The onion skins dye turned out more brown than red, but they are still interesting and very earthy.

love the center egg. i used a dandelion leaf on that one.

I decided to try a couple more eggs. I heard that beets would give more of a pink/red color. I found a lone can of beets in my food storage and added it to my onion skin dye. I created two more eggs. Instead of putting them in nylons, I adhered the leaf by wrapping the egg with thread. You can see the method I used at You Craft Me Up. I also added a few good sized splashes of white vinegar because that helps fix dyes. I can't say if it really helped or not, but as you can see, these eggs are a rich, dark brown.

I liked the nylon method better than than the thread method because I could adjust and control the look of my leaf better and I didn't get the striations from the thread, but those lines are kind of cool in a way. Next year I will skip cabbage and try raw beets on their own to see if I can get a truer pink/red.

Also, my house now smells quite funky. Beets, onions, and cabbage. Mmmm!!!

I was curious about the tradition of dying Easter eggs and looked up Easter legends. I found this interesting tidbit here:

"According to tradition, during a dinner with the emperor Tiberius Caesar, Mary Magdalene was speaking about Christ’s Resurrection. Caesar scoffed at her, saying that a man could rise from the dead no more than the egg in her hand could turn red. Immediately, the egg turned red."

Other symbolism, not as dogma, but as tradition includes:

*The egg as the new life in Christ through His resurrection

*Red for the color of our Lord’s blood but also for His divinity

*The outer shell to be cracked as the doors of hell and death are shattered

I found that using the plants in the traditional Swiss dye took my mind to the new life of springtime. And since Easter is all about the triumph of life over death, it was very fitting. I can't wait to try out new colors and patterns.

Happy Easter everyone!


Maria said...

LOVE it!!! So glad you had fun experimenting! The dandylion leaves are always my favorite too- we like to use the actual flower- it makes a really cool pattern. It's a lot more work- but I think it's so much more fun than just dropping it in food coloring! Can't wait to see all your eggs next year!

Frederick Family said...

So fun. Jeff's great aunt dyes eggs every year using onion skins. They are beautiful earthy browns and yellows.

Mom on the Go said...

Love it- hopefully I will remember to do this next year.

Beckie said...

Ooh that is fun- last year we died easter eggs using silk ties- super hard- but it turned out super duper cool!!!

Abe said...

Those are TOTALLY gorgeous. I shall try it when I am awesomer and more ambitious.

Abe said...

(oops. this is rachel, logged on as abe.)

Hays Family said...

the eggs look gorgeous. Thanks for sharing and showing your successful results.

Mommy, RN said...

Wow! Those are awesome eggs! So beautiful! I think I'm going to have to tag this so I can somehow remember to try next year!


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