Natural Egg Dying

(This is a repost of what I wrote for Handmade Philly this week)

 

 

 

It’s official- spring has sprung, and egg dying season is upon us.  Growing up, we always purchased food coloring kits, but if you’d like to try something a little more traditional, then please read on.  Natural dyes do take a little longer than their chemical counterparts, but I think the results are worth it. 

I like the idea that dying eggs can be safe for the environment, both by using natural elements as well as less packaging, while also paying homage to how I imagine our ancestors must have done it.  For this tutorial, I have also included a stencil technique if you’d like to add an additional layer of interest to your eggs.  

Let’s start with the beets, which will turn your eggs anywhere from pale pink to deep red-violet, depending on how long you leave them in the dye bath.  I boiled two cups of chopped beets with two cups of water, 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar, and 1 T of salt .  I am told the eggs come out better when the dye mixture is hot, and since you have to hard boil them anyway, you can just put them all into the pot together & boil for 15 minutes.  After that, remove from heat, and leave the eggs in the mixture until desired shade is achieved.  I left mine in for several hours, and this is what I got: 

 

Since the natural dyes leave the eggs somewhat dull, you can polish them when they’re dry with a little bit of oil.  As you can see from the photo, the oil polish (I used canola) also deepens the color quite a bit.  For the egg on the left, I tried tying rubber bands around it to give it more texture.  For the one on the right, I used wild strawberry leaves as a stencil.  

To achieve the stencilling effect, gather whatever materials you think would make an interesting pattern on your egg.  I went out in my backyard and picked the following: 

 

Next, you will need some old nylon stockings.  Cut off the feet so you have a little bag big enough for the egg with room to tie it off.  Place the egg inside, with whatever material you are using for a stencil.  I tried to flatten the leaves out against the egg surface as best as possible, but it is a little tricky, and I liked the randomness of it anyway.  Then, tie off the open end of your stockings as tightly as possible with either a rubber band or a knot, and you should have something that looks like this: 

 

From there, you just put it in your dye bath until you’re ready to remove it.  Here are how some of my other eggs turned out: 

 

Boil one head of chopped cabbage for about 30 minutes.  Strain the liquid, and add ¼ cup white vinegar and ¼ cup of salt and your eggs so they are covered.  Not only will the eggs turn a beautiful shade of blue, but you can see the difference between leaving them in the dye bath for several hours vs. about an hour (bottom eggs).

 

For the turmeric eggs, I boiled one cup of water with 1 T. turmeric, 1 T. white vinegar, and 1 T. salt.  I transferred the mixture to dye cups & immersed my eggs for only about an hour.  

 

2 cups yellow onion skins boiled with 2 cups water, 1T. vinegar, & 1 T. salt.  I wrapped the one on the right in onion skins with nylon over top, and it came out with a really cool marbled texture. 

I haven’t personally tried these, but here are some other natural elements that you can experiment with.  Just remember to add the vinegar so the dye sticks to the eggs: 

Blue:                      

Canned blueberries, red cabbage (boiled), purple grape juice 
 
 Brown or beige: 
 
Black coffee, instant coffee, walnut shells (boiled), black tea
 
Green: 
 
Spinach (boiled), liquid chlorophyll
 
Orange:
 
Yellow onion skins (boiled), carrots (boiled), paprika(boiled) 
 
Pink:
 
Beets, cranberries or juice, raspberries
 
Red:
  
Lots of red onion skins (boiled), pomegranate juice, raspberries
 
Violet or purple: 
 
Violet blossoms, hibiscus tea, sm. amount of red onion skins (boiled)
 
Yellow: 
 
Orange or lemon skins (boiled), carrot tops (boiled), chamomile tea, ground turmeric (boiled), ground cumin (boiled), celery seed (boiled), green tea
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Printable Portrait Frame

Max came home from school the other week with a cute little project that I thought I would adapt & share.  It’s easy and versatile- I basically just scanned a fancy picture frame that can be printed out & filled in by little (or big) budding Picasso’s and Kahlo’s:

 

Or, if you prefer, some oval fussiness:

You can either print them out onto white paper, then let your little (or big) person draw their masterpiece within the frame, or, go a little further and print it on a color paper of your choice, cut out the middle, & frame around an existing drawing. 

Just click on the above images to open them in a new window & print- I tried to get them the right size for printing, but you may have to resize beforehand- I would recommend doing a “print preview” to see if it needs adjusting, which you should be able to do from the preview screen.  Let me know if you need help, & I’ll give it my best college try.  Feel free to make several copies to give art projects a little added flair.   This is Max’s self-portrait:

I was also thinking these frames might be cute for other paper projects, such as collages, silhouettes, etc.  Have fun.

*** Update ***

You’ll have to resize the images from your print preview screen to at least 150%, but no larger than 167% for the rectangle, or 187% for the oval to get the most out of your 8½” x 11″ sheet of paper.  Sorry for the confusion!

Crafting with Kids: Easy Stenciled Valentines

Don’t let the title fool you, this project is for us old folks, too.  It’s just so easy that I labelled it as a kids’ project.  For some reason, this year, I’ve had Valentine’s Day on the brain much more so than in the past.   I guess that’s why I managed to get this little tutorial put together in time to actually use it.  Honestly, it’s a cute project that has many uses, not just Valentine’s Day, so go ahead and let your imagination run wild.

First, this is what you’ll need:

  1. Construction paper
  2. Scissors
  3. Paints (we used cheap craft paints)
  4. Cups, plates, etc. for mixing & thinning paints, as needed
  5. Freezer paper (NOT waxed paper)
  6. Iron & ironing surface
  7. Various items for applying paint.  We used sponges, brushes, string, and old toothbrushes

Step 1:

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT-  if you are doing this with smaller children, and would like to get started in a timely manner & not go completely INSANE, then I would suggest you assemble all of your materials BEFORE you tell the kids what you’re up to.  Otherwise, you may just have to hear the phrase, “Please, can we start painting, please, please, PLEASE?????” only about 56,802 times.  Additionally, if your kids are too small to cut out shapes or handle a hot iron themselves, then I would also suggest doing the next step before you clue them in, as that, too, can make their waiting more unbearable.  Since I did neither of the above, I decided to keep my design pretty simple.

Step 2:

Cut your shapes out of the freezer paper and arrange them on your folded construction paper (if you’re making a folded card) shiney side down.  We chose different sized hearts, but you can do just about anything.  The nice thing about freezer paper is it can be used like tracing paper, so go nuts with those royalty-free printouts:

 

Step 3:

** Disclaimer-  this seems obvious, but irons are hot!  Please use your judgement and closely supervise the little people during this step **

With your iron on a medium heat setting, and your card on an ironing board or other protected surface, press down on each piece of freezer paper for a few seconds, until all pieces are securely adhered. 

 You should be left with something like this:

(please ignore that hideous dark blotch across this photo- it wasn’t on my card, and I’m too lazy to Photoshop it out right now).

Step 4:

Now you’re ready to paint!  Gather your paints and other accoutrements and work some magic all over the surface of the card.  Be sure to cover over all of the freezer paper edges with paint to achieve the nicest images.  I personally was quite fond of the sponge technique:

Step 5:

Once the paint is dry, it’s time to peel off the freezer paper pieces.  This  can be tricky, as they tend to disappear a little under all that paint.  Once you get the edge started, though, they peel right off:

And you should be left with something like this:

From here, you can either be done, or continue to decorate them with stamps, glitter glue, etc.  and of course include your personal message.

Freezer paper is a very versatile material, and it’s something that I use all the time in my sewing projects.  The above technique can also be used to paint on t-shirts, pillows, etc. as a “poor man’s silkscreen”. Maybe we’ll cover that project next time.  Until then, have fun, & catch ya on the flip side.

Jenkintown Library Craft Show

Thanks to everyone who came to the craft show this weekend.   We had great weather, and sales were better than I expected, which is always a nice surprise.  The falling leaves were a nice backdrop, even though I did have to keep picking them off my display.  My little houses seem to be striking the right chord with people… now I just have to figure out a better way to display them!  I was happy to send this little guy, among others, off to a good home:

 

 

Next up is a home show on the 18th, and then back to Doylestown on November 7th & 8th for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s holiday show.  Busy, busy, busy!  I know I’ve been a bit slow in getting things loaded into the Etsy shop, but if anyone is interested in any of my products, please do not hesitate to contact me through the comments section or email.  Thanks & happy fall!

My House is Full of Sevens…

Oh, there’s the doorbell
Let’s see who’s out there

seven at the door

Oh, it’s a seven
Hello, seven
Won’t you come in, Seven?
Make yourself at home.

Hey, who’s that other guy?
Is that your friend there?

seven at the door 2

“Oh, that’s just Seven”
Another seven
Hello, Seven
Won’t you come in as well?
Now who would like some cake?
(“I would like some cake.”)
(“Me too!”)

What’s that at window?

sevens at the window

A whole bunch of sevens
They’re coming in now
And there’s a lot of them
And down the chimney too
(“Hey guys, come on in!”)
I bet they want some cake
“We want cake! Where’s our cake?”

cake

My house is full of sevens
They’re filling up the living room
Sliding down the banister
Talking on the telephone
Inviting over more sevens
(“It’s a green house at the end of the block”)
I’m running out of cake.
“We want cake! Where’s our cake?”

My house is full of sevens
“We want cake! Where’s our cake?”
Lots and lots of sevens
“We want cake! Where’s our cake?”
Many more are stopping by
Sevens add and multiply
There’s only way to subtract them:
Let them eat up all the cake

A fun morning was inspired by this song and spawned by my husband. Seriously, if you don’t already have this album, I highly recommend it, whether you have kids or not… I do find myself listening to it even when the kids are napping… but it has inspired many a silly moment while they are awake, too!

Philly Makes Week 4

Here’s a little teaser preview of what I’ve been working on this week.  Check out the Philly Makes!  blog today to see the full version:

 

Yes, I still make stuff!  Actually, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the direction I’d like to see my work go this year, ya know, with all my spare time & all.  No, seriously, you can stop laughing now.  This little piece is just the tip of the iceberg…. while I have more ideas than I have time right now, I’m hoping that will change soon.  Maybe the time management fairy will bestow upon me her worldly wisdom…  Or maybe I’ll just put on another pot of coffee.  Sleep is so overrated, anyway.

Philly Makes!

So, with the failure of my commitment to Thing-A-Day in February (will I ever stop talking about this?) I mentioned that I would be participating in the more manageable/reasonable Thing-A-Week, via the Philly Makeswebsite.  Basically, this is a group of Philadelphia area artists & crafters that have committed to posting a weekly project that they’ve either made or are in the process of making.

The beauty of it is, you can check back for daily inspirations, because everyone posts on a different day.  It just so happens that my day is today- Tuesday!  So check out Philly Makes  daily to see what we’re all up to, and to maybe get some great ideas!