Back when I was in college I decided that I was too old for coloring Easter eggs. I was far enough from home that making a quick weekend trip wasn’t really worth it, and not making it home to celebrate made me forget about Easter and all of the little things that come with it. Once I started working, though, I realized that every holiday is worth celebrating, sometimes solely because you have the day off of work (Columbus Day, I’m talking about you). During those working days I was finally able to come home for Easter, and on a visit to my grandparents’ house the first thing I noticed was a big bowl of freshly dyed Easter eggs in the center of the kitchen table. Knowing that my grandparents still colored eggs reassured me that I was in no way too old for the fun. My celebrating could once again extend beyond a Cadbury egg and a handful of jelly beans. I was back in the game.
Instead of the same old pastel colors with a stick of wax, I wanted to try something different this year. First I was thinking that I would try to use natural dyes, but having to boil orange zest and beets seemed like a little too much effort for coloring eggs. Then I checked out MarthaStewart.com, which has some amazing egg ideas, and I found some techniques that were within my not-so-crafty skill set. The results are below.
1 dozen eggs, hard-boiled or blown out
3-4 coffee cups or small bowls
Pick three or four colors to start with (I used green, blue, yellow, and red). For each color add several drops of food coloring to a cup along with three tablespoons of vinegar. Add 1/2 cup water. That’s your base. From here you can either lower the eggs into the dye or try out one of the steps below.
Things we did to get cool colors:
1. Let the eggs sit in the dye for extended periods of time (20-30 minutes) to enhance the color.
2. Drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil into the dye before adding an egg to get the speckled look.
3. Add a darker, contrasting shade of color while the egg is in the water to get streaks of the new color. The orange egg below is an example of this. I initially dyed the egg bright yellow, removed it from the color and wasn’t satisfied with it, added several drops of red coloring to the yellow, put the egg back in, added a few more drops of red, swirled it around, and several minutes later I had this crazy orange-yellow, mottled, streaked egg.
4. Re-dye eggs. If you don’t like the results after the initial coloring, throw the egg into another color. See the blue/purple one below. It was initially a bright blue color, but I thought it was a little boring so I dropped it back into the purple with plenty of olive oil to make it speckled.
5. EXPERIMENT! I got the idea to use olive oil from Martha Stewart, but because I was too antsy to dye eggs I didn’t go back to the instructions before I started the process. I couldn’t remember the exact steps, but I just messed around with the colors and ingredients and ended up with some pretty cool eggs.
One more thing: strongly brewed coffee makes a great coloring. On its own it can make pretty brown eggs, and mixed with some food coloring it will make cool kind of earth-toned eggs. See the solid green egg in the top of the picture below or in the bottom left corner of the top picture.
Finally, if you’re looking for a real Easter bunny to take your celebration up a notch, Farm King in West Burlington, Iowa is selling them for $20. Real, white bunnies. No refunds, though. I should have taken a picture.