We asked one of our favorite natural dyers (and customers) Liz Spencer of Dogwood Dyer to capture a recent Easter egg bundle dyeing adventure with her son Dalton. Liz tells us, “After 2 sessions we had some diverse effects. Our first session eggs were literally eaten by our dog. Tip: don’t leave steamed eggs to cool outside unattended with a food-driven beagle.”
Thanks to her perseverance, Liz and Dalton were still able to pull off a wonderful natural dyeing day and we are lucky to have her pictures and tutorial text below.
How to Bundle Dye Easter Eggs
Tutorial and text by Liz Spencer, Dogwood Dyer
If you’re like me and you’re as eager as possible to find seasonal activities that are kid friendly, sustainable, and fun, then take inspiration from this natural and organic method of applying color to spring Easter eggs.My favorite natural dyestuffs for this method that produce the brightest and most saturated reds pinks, purples and yellows include osage orange chips and saw dust, logwood chips, cochineal insects, annatto, marigold flowers, and madder root. You will only need a pinch or two of each dyestuff for each egg.
-eggs (clearer and brighter colors are best achieved on white eggs)
-rag or sponge<
-clothespins, twine, or rubber bands
-small amounts of raw dyestuffs
-small mixing bowl
-fork or spoon
-pot with lid
-strainer or colander (the tighter fitting and deeper the better)
-lemon juice (or anything acidic including vinegar)
1. Wash the eggs with a bit of soap and warm water. It helps to also gently rub off any oils that may be on the eggs with the sponge or rag to ensure good color uptake.
2. Cut your cheesecloth into long pieces of about 5″ x 12″. If your eggs are larger, you may want to cut the cheesecloth a bit larger. You may also wish to double up your cheesecloth strips for extra containment of the dyestuffs.
3. Crack one egg and scramble in the mixing bowl
4. Compose your bundle by placing the dyestuffs on the cheesecloth however you like. I have found that the wood chips and roots are best broken up into pieces smaller than 1/2″ at least.
5. Dip your clean eggs into the scrambled egg mixture and turn it to evenly coat the whole exterior of the shell with egg yolk.
6. Now carefully roll the egg along the cheesecloth and coat it with the dyestuffs while keeping the cheesecloth tight and close to the egg. When the egg is covered, tuck in the extra edges of the cheesecloth and wrap tightly. I like to gather the extra edges, twist them and then secure them like a bread bag. You can secure with a clothespin or rubber bands or twine.
7. Put about an inch or two of water in the pot and begin to heat on medium high. Place your eggs into your steaming basket (collander) and secure lid. The less steam that escapes from your pot the more efficient the process.
8. Check on the progress of the color progression every 15 minutes or so. I have found that it is quite easy for bundle dyes with quite a bit of dyestuff to bleed and run relatively quickly leading to a more watercolor effect versus a speckled look. Most of the time you will see great results after 30 minutes with a good strong and steady steam.
9. Unbundle your eggs after letting them cool a bit and rinse them gently in cool water. Depending on how long the eggs sat in the steam, you may find that they’re fully cooked as well.
Other fun experiments: You may also like to play with pH and add sprinkles of alkaline baking soda or splashes of acidic lemon juice or vinegar to certain areas of the bundles. Not all dyestuffs are pH sensitive leading to a different color, but it’s fun to note which eggs were pH modified to see if there is a discernible difference in color. You may also like to crush your cochineal insects in a mortar and pestle and sprinkle the dust on the eggs and then bundle for a starry effect. You can also try grinding madder root in an old coffee grinder.
For more information on The Dogwood Dyer and to register for some of her upcoming workshops, go here!