The last week before Easter is upon us.
This weekend just gone we were on a weaving retreat in the beautiful bush and river-land South-East of Perth. Miss K seems to have blossomed from that short reverie; I look forward to sharing more about it very soon.
The day we left for the retreat, I was busily getting ready and dying Easter eggs. I had emptied the eggs and used some to make blueberry pancakes, a staple of our toddler’s diet. I arranged all of my ingredients outside to photograph. I went inside to clean up, I heard some strange sort of cracking sound like loud rain, Miss K squealed with delight. I hurried outside and found this:
A gust of wind had descended into the courtyard and blown the eggs from the table. Miss K was happy as she now had a new ingredient for her outside kitchen. Luckily, I had a few complete eggs left. I will use the more complete broken ones for something sweet. I’ll tell you more about that in another post soon as I want to just focus on how to dye eggs with brown onion skins today.
The colour you can get with onion skins is so deep and brilliant.
As a child I was captivated by how such a simple, usually unwanted casting of everyday cooking could do something so beautiful. I remember watching my mother fill a tall, wide pot with water and onion skins. The house smelt heavy as it boiled, but not unpleasant. We would do this the day before Easter Saturday and use whole, fresh eggs that would boil in the dye bath. We did not blow the eggs. After they were dyed their deep earthy red, we would take out sharp sewing needles and scratch pictures of flowers, leaves, hares and chickens onto their surface. These eggs would be eaten the next day after being blessed. One was chosen as the egg used to give blessing to all who sat around the feast table after the blessing. Every person who was at the luncheon would eat a small part of this one egg.
I will also be dyeing eggs the night before Easter Saturday, but I wanted many more as decoration that could last a lot longer, so my method is different. A full egg is also a lot easier to scratch than a blown egg, so you may also like to try with full eggs.
I also would like to give you some instructions on how to make wax relief designs on eggs in a cold dye bath. You can get highly contrasted images using this technique.
You will need:
A tall pot
12 blown eggs – You may like to use full eggs for the hot dye bath
3 or 4 handfulls of brown onion skins
One sharp sewing needle
One long sewing needle (such as a thin wool needle)
A wax candle and matches
String for presentation
It can also be useful to have one of those medicine syringes around to fill blown eggs with water.
Hot dye bath method:
1. Fill your tall pot with as much water as easily accommodates all of the onion peel. I usually fill it three quarters full.
2. Place half your eggs into the water carefully. If your eggs are blown, fill them with water. It can be helpful to use a syringe or make the holes on both sides a little larger and hold them under the water in the pot.
3. Bring this to the boil and let it simmer. Take your eggs out when you are happy with their colour. Do not discard the dye bath, let it cool and stand it aside for the cold dye bath which I will explain shortly.
4. Once your boiled eggs are cool you can scratch designs onto them using a sharp needle. The best way to do this is to make many lighter scratches. If you press too firmly you will break the egg. On this one I scratched blackberries:
Now for the wax relief and cold-dye bath…
5. Light your candle and let it burn until you have a little pool of wax and surrounding wax has softened. Using eye of the long, thin wool needle, pick up some of the softened wax and hold it momentarily in the flame of the candle until it has become very liquid. Use this immediately to make marks on your remaining, undyed eggs. It seems to be a matter of practise and there are a few different methods for making the marks.
6. Once your onion dye bath is cold (perhaps it is best to wait at least a few hours), fill your waxed eggs with water and place them gently into the dye bath.
7. Leave them there for a number of hours or over night. Take them out and let them dry. You can blow out any excess water.
8. Run boiling hot water over them and rub them with a clean, soft cloth to get the wax off and make them shiny.
Miss K loved the eggs.
She blew them many kisses and was so amorous that one caved to the violence of her affections.
Inside it was marbled and beautiful.
I hope you also have much luck with your Easter eggs. Please ask me any questions you have and share your work with us if you like!