The little egg dyeing kits you buy this time of year have never satisfied me. Not only are the colors too pale, they take too long and they don't allow for much customization.
I like to customize things. Which is a fancy way of saying do things my own way.
I'm sure my mother would be happy to tell you all the ways that I "customized" things growing up.
I once cut up an entire National Geographic magazine and glued the pictures to my bedroom wall. Glued with glue. Dozens of pages. My customizing wasn't so popular at age 11.
I think I've improved since then.
You can color eggs with acid dyes like we use here in the studio. But I don't want to outfit my children in safety gear, and I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that you don't want to, either. So I stick with safer items.
Boil some eggs. I like a mixture of sizes and colors. I have medium, large, extra large and jumbo eggs -- white and brown -- bubbling away here. The variation in size creates a more visually interesting display. But use whatever you've got.
Once they've been cooked through -- twelve minutes or so -- cool them down buy running them under cold water.
I like to use shallow dishes for egg coloring, it gives you more control over customization.
Speaking of customization, I was once given a solo part singing in a school performance. I was in second grade.
After I'd been through two rehearsals, the teacher decided to bring in some backup, likely because I was not a very good singer. But I was a good memorizer, so I knew all the lyrics.
I felt this other boy -- let's call him Mark -- was an affront to my sensibilities. I wanted to show the music teacher that I was a better singer than him.
Every time we would practice, I would purposely try to sing much, much louder (read: better) than him. He would, in turn, try to sing louder than me, until we were both louder than the piano accompaniment and were shouting the lyrics instead of singing them.
The teacher said, "Sharon! Mark! This is not a singing competition! Try to sing at the same level as the other person!"
What I heard was, "Sharon! Sing way louder than Mark so everyone will know you're the better singer and I made a mistake in giving him half of your singing responsibilities!"
I wore my hair in a ponytail and a pink and white striped dress to that performance. I sang only a little louder than Mark when other people were watching. Just to customize.
So. Shallow bowl. Put a little water in it. Just eyeball a couple of tablespoons.
Roll the egg around so that some of it gets wet. That will affect how it takes color.
There are several ways to proceed at this point. It's very customizable.
Here's the first. Add a drop of food coloring directly on the egg.
Then add several more in any pattern you feel like. You can use any color you want. I'm going to be wiping off some of this red, so don't worry that I'm teaching you how to make eggs that belong in a Stephen King novel.
Roll the egg around in the water/food coloring solution that's now in the bottom of your shallow dish.
You could, if you wanted, stick your face through a door and psychotically yell, "Heeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!" to the people on the other side.
Take the egg out and blot it with a paper towel. It will create a textured look, and you can blot as much or as little as you like. I blotted this egg until it was a pretty coral color.
Coral is very big for spring.
You heard it here first.
Method #2: Kool-Aid (powdered drink mix). Add a little water to a shallow dish again, and this time sprinkle some powder directly onto the egg.
Roll the egg around in the solution to make a base color. This egg turned out a light pink.
I then picked it up, added a drop of blue food coloring onto my paper towel and rubbed it into the egg. This creates a layered, marbled effect that you can't get with the little dipping kits.
I eventually added a teeny bit of green, too.
Tip: If you have a dry paper towel, you'll be blotting (drying) the egg. You can get more precise, deeper color this way. If your paper towel is damp, you get a smearing effect, which creates a lighter wash of color.
The egg on the right is eventually how this one turned out. The base of pink created those purple shades you see.
Method #3: Several drops of food coloring (or a shake of powdered drink mix) into a dish. Roll the egg around.
Add a drop of blue to a damp paper towel and rub it over a lot of the egg. You can stop whenever you like the way it looks.
This is all about customization, remember?
I'm never one to leave well enough alone, so I added a drop of green to this one, and smeared it around.
The more damp the paper towel is, the more it will wipe off what's underneath it. If you're not happy with how something is looking, you can literally rinse it under water. Or swab it with a wet paper towel until you're happy with it.
Here I started with another swirl of pink, to which I added a drop of yellow.
I kept going with the yellow until I was happy with the results. The subtle color variation is so appealing to me. I also love how blotting forces the color into the pores of the shell, and brings out the texture of the egg.
Try coloring some brown eggs. They yield rich, beautiful shades.
Here's a drop of green.
Smeared around with a damp paper towel.
I then dabbed on some yellows. (You can use a cotton swab if you want to keep your fingers cleaner.)
Method #4: Add a small amount of one color to the bottom of your shallow dish. Then add one drop of a contrasting color.
Roll your egg in it for an instantly marbled effect.
Here are some more examples of eggs I made today.
This was a brown egg. I started with yellow on one side and had it transition to a deep teal on the other.
Pale blue, green, and yellow create a lovely mint color. I wrapped this with some lavender yarn.
Deep blue, added one drop at a time and burnished into the shell with a paper towel.
Red + blue + yellow = chocolate brown. Tied with a minty green yarn.
Blue, green, and red, added a tiny bit at a time and mostly wiped off with a wet paper towel.
Pale green tied with lavender. You can use any scrap yarn that looks pretty.
I like this buttery yellow and pink with the purple yarn.
Then, inspiration: instead of using plastic or paper faux-grass, which frankly gets everywhere and is irresistible to dogs and cats, I could use scrap yarn.
I snipped open a leftover skein of Titania on Lindon and cut it into sections 3-4 inches long.
You can use it to line a basket.
Or to layer in a hurricane vase.
Or to make charming little nests.
I hope you'll try these -- for a couple of bucks in eggs and food coloring, you can make a gorgeous centerpiece, create memories with your children/grandchildren, or add a bit of whimsy to your home.
And it's totally customizable, in a way that will not upset your mother, music teacher, or your second grade nemesis Mark.
I brought this back from April 2011, as I still love this method of egg coloring. I'll be reading the new comments, so please feel free to leave them. Thanks for reading!