This Easter dye your eggs using all natural dye. You can get the main ingredients from your garden or local farmers' market and you can pick decorations from your yard. When you're done they might be too pretty to eat!
Contrary to it's name, red cabbage makes an amazing blue dye. Making these natural dyes isn't an exact science so don't worry too much about getting measurements and timing exactly right. To make blue dye boil approximately half of a red cabbage with 3 to 4 cups of water, a tablespoon of vinegar and a dash of salt. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, the longer you let it simmer the deeper the color will be. Strain out the cabbage and you'll have a beautiful blue dye. (It may look purple, don't worry! Your eggs will turn out blue.)
To make red dye chop 4 beets, fresh or pickled, and boil with about 3 cups of water. Add a tablespoon of vinegar and dash of salt and simmer for about 30 minutes. Again, the longer it simmers the deeper the color.
Carrot tops make a beautiful soft yellow dye. Boil 3 cups of water with a bunch of carrot tops, a tablespoon of vinegar and dash of salt. This won't be a very bright yellow, so you may want to simmer an hour or longer to get a stronger color.
When your dye is cooled pour it into jars or mugs large enough to hold an egg. Plastic can react in funny ways to dye, so stick to glass or ceramic containers if you can. And remember, this dye will dye your eggs but it will also dye your clothes, your countertops and your table if it spills. Cover your work surfaces and don't wear your favorite white shirt!
Prep your eggs by hard boiling them and letting them cool. Wash gently with soap and water and then brush with vinegar to make sure the dye sticks evenly. While your eggs are still wet from the vinegar, stick flowers, leaves and other natural objects to the shells. The flatter the plants lie against the shell the better they will work.
Wrap the eggs in old pantyhose to keep the natural elements pressed tightly against the shell. Tie firmly, but be careful not to break the shell. Place the eggs in their dye baths, making sure they are fully covered.
Dry the Eggs
If you plan on eating your eggs later place them in the refrigerator while they soak in the dye. Natural dyes don't work quite as fast as artificial ones and depending on how strong your dye is, you may want to leave your eggs in the dye for up to an hour (or even longer) for a deep color. When you are happy with the color, gently lift the eggs from the dye baths with a slotted spoon and leave them to dry in an egg carton.
When your eggs are completely dry, unwrap them and gently peel the floral and plant elements away from the shell. You should see the pattern of the leaves or flowers left behind on the shell.
You can get a wide variety of different patterns and designs on your eggs by using different types of plants on the surface. Pine needles will create a series of narrow stripes and fat leaves will create larger, flat shapes. Try mixing flowers and leaves for an especially stunning mixture of texture.
Yellow Dye, Brown Egg
You can use brown or white eggs for this project, but each will give you very different results. White eggs will yield bright, intense colors and brown eggs will look more natural. Yellow dye can be especially hard to see on brown eggs, but if you're going for a subtle look it can be absolutely perfect.
You can create two-tone eggs by dipping them halfway in one dye and half way in another. Or place two eggs close together while they are drying, making sure that they touch. The color from one egg will subtly bleed over onto the next one.
The knot you tie in the pantyhose will leave a tie dye pattern on your egg. Keep this in mind when you are wrapping your eggs. If you don't like the way it looks, hide it on the back or one of the ends of the egg. If you like that look, try tying the knot front and center so the tie dye pattern can mix with the floral designs.
Caring for Your Eggs
Throughout this whole process be sure to keep the eggs refrigerated when you aren't actively handling them. If you want to eat them this is especially important. The eggs will have a matte finish after being dyed. If you'd prefer shiny eggs you can rub the surface gently with oil.
Enjoy your beautiful eggs! You can use the same dye bath for multiple eggs, so dye to your heart's content! If you want some different color try mixing your dyes or dipping the eggs first in one color, then the other. Mix a little bit of blue with a lot of yellow to make green, and a little red with lots of yellow to make orange! Slightly more red than blue will make a beautiful purple. Have fun creating beautiful, natural eggs that are fun to make and to eat in delicious recipes.