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egg me on natural easter egg dyeing
by Yee-Fan Sun
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to dye for
Scouring online, I’d found a basic “recipe” for making natural dyes, along with all sorts of suggestions for materials. Thus armed with this knowledge, I promptly proceeded to make a list of the materials that sounded most interesting. Besides the onion peels (which I scrounged up from the loose onions bin at my supermarket, then popped into a bag along with a couple of whole onions to buy), I decided to try red cabbage leaves (which oddly enough, was supposed to yield a robin’s egg blue dye), turmeric (yellow), beets (pink), and golden delicious apple peels (greenish-yellow). Red zinger tea was supposed to yield a pretty lavender color, but sadly, my supermarket didn’t seem to stock it; instead, I threw a box of cheap cranberry tea into the shopping cart.

the basic recipe
Here’s a rough suggestion for proportions…

4 cups vegetable/fruit material, 1 Tbsp. spice, or 6 tea bags

5 or so cups water (enough to cover the dye material)

2 Tbsp. vinegar

Both the fun and frustration of natural dyes is that colors and results can be a little unpredictable. Amazingly, the red cabbage leaves really did leave the eggs a beautiful blue, despite the fact that the dye itself looked purple. The beets, meanwhile, yielded a gorgeous magenta dye, but even after overnight soaking, the dye hadn’t seemed to really penetrate. Instead, the eggs were left a speckled pinkish-gray – a subtle, more naturalistic look. The golden delicious peels, meanwhile, were a complete bust, generating almost no discernable color beyond a vague blah gray. The cranberry tea also seemed to make the eggs go gray rather than the expected reddish-pink. The real winners in terms of color punch? Red cabbage leaves, ground turmeric, and brown onion skins.

best dyes to try

  • Brown/yellow onion skins – bright orange to red-brown
  • Red cabbage leaves – beautiful brilliant blue
  • Ground turmeric – rich lovely yellow

Bear in mind that you can get different colors by adjusting the amount of dyeing time, as well as dyeing in two different colors (let the eggs dry between coats).

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