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egg me on
natural easter egg dyeing

by Yee-Fan Sun
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Easter weekend of last year, back when we were still living in Scotland, the boy and I ended up spending a fabulously relaxing weekend in the Highlands with a small group of friends. Roaming around through the countryside on one of our many drizzly-misty-atmospheric walks, we noticed our French pal snapping off bits of leaves and flowers and grass, carefully collecting them in hand. “What’s the greenery for?” we asked. “Easter eggs,” she answered, then smiled mysteriously as she looked at our quizzical expressions, “You’ll see!”

Later that afternoon, back at the cozy cottage we’d rented, we eagerly dove into the Easter egg fun. Now, growing up in the readymade convenience-centered culture of America as I did, decorating Easter eggs has always meant moseying down to the local supermarket or drugstore, bee-lining for the holiday aisle, and picking up a kit of Paas dyes in an assortment of 100% artificial pastel hues. So I was intrigued by the fact that amidst our cartons of eggs waiting to be decked out, there was not a prepackaged dye in sight. Instead, I watched our friend proceed to add a pile of plain old brown onion skins to a big pot of water, as she instructed us start cutting up some nylon stockings into pieces just big enough to wrap around an egg. Soon, she was showing us how to lay out bits and pieces of plant material on top of our eggs, secure the whole shebang with a piece of nylon, and tie off the end with some string. Pop the eggs carefully into the water, hard-boil for 15 minutes or so, let cool enough to handle, remove nylons and plant bits – and voila! Beautiful brownish-orange eggs adorned with pale plant silhouettes.

So with Easter on the horizon this year, I knew I wanted to play around with natural egg decorating some more. Sadly, now that I’m living in Toronto, where freezing temperatures and snow-cover lingered until, oh, just over a week ago, foraging for cool plants to use for silhouettes is pretty much out of the question. Instead, I decided to experiment with getting different colors out of everyday vegetable materials. The results ere often surprising and the process a whole lot of fun. If you’re gathering friends for an egg decorating party this Easter, consider skipping the usual store-bought dyes, and dyeing au naturale instead…

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