Lexington, KY – With grocery list in hand I head to the store. Carrots, check. Beets, check. Strawberries, check. Spinach, check. I have a basket full of goodies that would make Jack LaLanne proud, but this bounty isn’t for eating. These vibrant-colored fruits and veggies serve a much craftier purpose –– egg dyeing for this year’s Easter egg hunt.
It makes perfect sense that nature would offer an array of color choices, but only in recent years did I realize things could be dyed without the use of a PAAS kit or a bottle of RIT. Since then, I have been naturally dyeing all sorts of things around the house. Table linens, cardstock, curtains and clothes are the usual suspects. My first project, a dress dyed with strawberries, still maintains the most gorgeous hue of pink three years later.
Natural dyeing is an experimental and educational project, especially for the little ones. Armed with this new found crafty knowledge, you may never look at the produce aisle the same way again.
Some information provided, with permission, by www.twomenandalittlefarm.blogspot.com.
1. Hard boil eggs.
2. Wash the boiled eggs in warm water to remove any oily residue that can affect the color dyeing process. Set eggs aside to cool.
3. Fill a saucepan with water on the stovetop and add the colorants. There is no exact amount of fruits, veggies, spices or juice to use. Add a bit at a time and see how brightly the water turns color. You want a good saturation of color. Put “like” colors together for a deeper, more unique hue (like turmeric with onion peels, red cabbage with beets).
4. Bring water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour, or until you like the color you see in the water. That’s really all it comes down to –– just get the water a color or shade you like and try it out.
5. Pour the liquid through a mesh strainer and into a bowl or jar that will be deep enough to put your eggs in.
6. Add 1 tbsp of vinegar for each cup of the dye. This helps the dye absorb into the eggshell.
7. Use a slotted spoon to put the eggs into the hot liquid. The eggs will need to sit for quite a bit of time to get a good color. Once a nice shade of color has been reached, remove the eggs from the dye. You could even move them to the refrigerator for an overnight soak. If you are going to eat them, be sure to refrigerate them.
Cotton and linen are excellent candidates for natural dyeing but feel free to experiment with silk, wool and leather too.
1. Choose the fabric items you will be dyeing. (Tee shirts, pillow cases, curtains, linen napkins and baby onesies are just a few ideas).
2. Prepare the fabric for color with a salt fix prior to dyeing. (Salt fix: 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water. When dyeing with fruits and vegetables it is recommended to use a salt fix prior to dyeing the fabric. I have skipped this step entirely before and had good success but if you like to do things “by the book,” don’t exclude this step.)