Friday, April 6, 2012

Silk Dyeing Easter Eggs

We have been saving our Leghorn chicken's white eggs for two weeks now. Our other birds lay green-blue eggs, but we wanted the white ones for Easter egg dyeing. We usually do the normal food coloring/vinegar dye bath, with periodic experimentation with a few natural dyes. We always try a few supplemental methods, like using white wax crayons to draw designs, tie dyeing, or making botanical prints. This year, we played with silk dyeing. 

Our first task was to save white eggs. I went to the store thinking to maybe buy a dozen, but they were all marked with little pink date stamps. Each egg. Weird. When did chickens start laying eggs with date stamps? But I wanted to decorate the eggs, so they won't work for me. We only have one Leghorn, so it took awhile to gather a dozen white eggs. 12 days to be exact! Fresh eggs are very hard to peel, but by collecting over two weeks the eggs should be ok to boil and peel.

Second task: gather printed silk items that we don't mind trashing. I have a few silk scarves, but didn't want to ruin them so we headed out to the Salvation Army one Wednesday (1/2 price day). We each selected our "favorite" silk ties from the plethora of choices. It's amazing to think that people really wore some of those things, and no surprise they were donated away...thank you donors! We narrowed it down to a bare handful and headed home with our purchases.

Time to gather supplies!
Raw Eggs
Silk cloth that can be cut up (Note: 100% silk only)
White fabric such as an old sheet or pillowcase
Pot of water
Twist Ties
Paper or cloth towels
Vegetable Oil (optional)

Now the fun began. Dyeing!

Uncle Fester and his tie collection.
We sorted our ties to examine their colors and patterns, discussing the merits of each and predicting the outcomes of each color.

Each tie was opened up, liner fabric and tags removed.

We cut the fabric to fit around the egg and had to decide if we wanted the twist tie to go at the top or the side. It depends on how your eggs will be displayed. In a carton, put the twist tie at the narrow end. In a bowl on their side, put the twist tie on the long side.
Wrapping the egg tightly, we twisted the tie in place.

When the dozen were all wrapped, we then wrapped each egg in a white piece of fabric and twist tied in place.

Fill a pot with water and add 1/4 c vinegar.
Add the eggs and turn the heat on. We were surprised that the eggs floated, I guess it's the air bubbles in the fabric pouches. So I placed a glass lid on top of the eggs to hold them down.

Wait for the water to boil. Boil gently for 20 minutes.
Remove from water, drain, and cool.

Unwrap and marvel at the beauty!

You can rub a bit of veg oil on each egg to make them shiny, if you want. We didn't because we will save our two favorite eggs and let the insides dry out. (We have eggs from the Boy's Kindergarten years on up.) If you rub them with oil, the moisture can't evaporate. If you wish to save eggs, don't close them up in a carton...let the moisture evaporate! You end up with an egg that rattles like a gourd.

Note: My dear friend Alice tried this method and was rather disappointed. She added more vinegar to her water and said subsequent batches resulted in brighter colors. We'll give that a try next year. Thanks Alice! 

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