Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter with natural dyes

This Easter, I bought some artificial dyes for my daughter to make her brightly colored eggs, but I also saved off 8 eggs to play with natural dyes. Last year, we went to the area nature center and dyed eggs in many different home ingredients (coffee, red cabbage, onion skins, etc.) - I was surprised at how much color we were able to get.

This year, I did it at home. Instead of boiling the eggs beforehand, I boiled each batch along with their color - 1 minute of boiling, 20 minutes simmering (at least, that was the idea).

I tried 4 different ingredients (I thought of using avocado skins as a 5th kind, but by the time I finished the 4th batch I was ready to clean up the kitchen and be done with dying eggs for the year).

I really liked how the eggs turned out (even though my daughter and husband swear the red cabbage eggs look white, not periwinkle blue!)

From left to right: yellow onion skin, red cabbage, tea overlaid with red cabbage, and instant coffee

From left to right:  yellow onion skin, red cabbage, tea overlaid with red cabbage, and instant coffee

I liked the yellow onion skin dye so much, I strained out the dyebath and I'm going to dye an ounce of wool with it tomorrow morning (the wool is soaking in its alum bath right now). I hope it works out well! Haven't checked the dyebath pH yet, I plan to do that before I put the wool in. I really was surprised at how orangey the yellow onion bath turned out, I thought the quercitron was a purer yellow. I looked in my dyebooks again and I guess it says it's a "clear" color, not that it's a lemon yellow color. One book does describe it as an orange-yellow, so I guess I read too fast. I still had never imagined the beautiful copper-penny yellow it turned the eggs. I wonder if the calcium in the eggshells raised the dyebath pH? Guess I'll find out soon.

Eggs nestled in wool

The yellow onion skin batch was also the final batch that I did; and although I thought 1) that I'd turned down the heat once it was boiling and 2) I'd turned off the heat at the 20-minute mark... it turns out neither was true. So I actually boiled the eggs and onion-skin dyebath for at least 40 minutes. Not sure the eggs will be edible... but they're certainly a nice bold color!!

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