This afternoon we colored eggs at Ann’s house, with Ann, Cristina, Zach, Ellen and I all coloring, and Dave doing the judging at the end. The Egg Event has gradually evolved over time. Both our families always colored eggs when we were kids, and developed some techniques that I think are somewhat unusual. Here’s how we did it, with a few step-by-step tutorials.
We color on hardboiled eggs, which must be prepared far enough in advance to cool completely. Ann loads all the eggs into one large pot, covers them with water, and brings it to a boil, then turns off the heat and lets the eggs sit for 20 minutes. If you’re doing less eggs, a safer method is to only do one layer of eggs in the pot, less chance of cracking that way, but it takes too long with this many, so we just use the cracked ones (about 9 this time out of 5 dozen) to make egg salad for lunch. 15 minutes in the hot water is probably enough, but Ann likes 20 minutes to be sure. Then put the pot in the sink and run cold water on the eggs for about 5 minutes, and remove them to cool completely.
Here they are, ready to go. Note that I’ve heard using an aluminum pot can affect the way the eggs hold the dye. I haven’t found any evidence that’s true online, so it may be just an urban myth, but we use a stainless steel pot.
We’ve always used the egg coloring sets made by Paas. I like the sets that have 9 color tablets, some have only 6. We had one of those too, this year, with plastic cups that I liked, actually. The sets also include a clear wax crayon that we like to use, a copper wire egg dipper, and various stickers and decorations, which we tend to mostly ingore.
Preparing the color cups. Mugs work well, though sometimes the narrow, deep ones can be difficult to get the eggs out of. There are several methods of dissolving the color tablets. We use three tablespoons of distilled white vinegar for brightest colors. The tablets are fizzy, and take about 5-10 minutes to completely dissolve. Each cup gets its own teaspoon for stirring and dipping. Then you add a half cup of water to each one, and you’re ready to start. Put down a plastic tablecloth on your table if you don’t want colors on it. Lots of paper towels are handy, too. You can use liquid food coloring instead, but it tends to go on unevenly. Natural dye recipes are also available online.
Here’s one of my favorite techniques, for making a Patchwork Quilt Egg. You need Scotch Tape. I prefer the Magic Tape variety, but we only had the Glossy original kind this year. It worked fine, but pulled some of the colors off when removed, which is not good. I’ll bring my own tape next year! Tear off and apply small squares of tape to the egg, randomly and well spaced apart, about 6 to 8, then dip in Yellow.
Here’s the result. Add more tape squares in the spaces between the ones already there, though a little overlap is fine, and dip in Orange.
You can see the pattern developing. Some edges of the tape will release and let color in, which is fine. Red is next.
Continue adding tape and dip next in Purple.
Almost done, but before adding the final color, carefully peel the tape off the original white squares. Then dip in Light Blue.
Here’s the egg with all colors added. Carefully peel off all the remaining tape.
Here’s the final product. You can see where some of the color came off with the tape, but it still works well, I think. Different but similar results can be achieved by cutting the tape with scissors into triangles, thin strips, or punching round sections with a hole punch. That all adds to the coloring time, though.
Here’s another technique for a Random Wax Egg. This uses the clear wax crayon that comes with the Paas color sets. On the uncolored egg make a number of random, straight wax marks. Or, you can make circular scribbles or any pattern you like. The idea is to cover the whole surface roughly the same amount, and not too heavily to leave room for other colors. Above is the egg with two wax treatments, and two dye colors: Pink and Orange. Add more wax between each color.
Here’s the same egg with two more colors added, I think Red and Blue-green (which Paas now calls Teal).
Here’s the final result with two more colors added, I think Light Blue and Dark Blue. Lost track of them, actually, but you get the idea.
Ann has a technique for a Tie-Dyed Egg, though there’s no actual tying involved. She dips strips of paper towels in the colors and drapes them around the egg, as shown. The wet towels stick unevenly, which is what you want.
Here’s the egg with more colors added. Once most of the surface is colored, let the towels dry, then remove.
And here’s a final egg, though I’m not sure if it’s the same one shown above. It may be.
Ann is a fine watercolor artist, and she also goes in and adds details with a brush. Some of us consider that cheating, but the results are quite attractive. She tried using some rubber bands this year, too, which gave some good results. I think the wide blue bands on this egg came from a wide rubber band stretched twice around the egg before he green layer was added.
When we were done, time was called, and Dave came in for the judging in various categories, shown below.
Everyone had fun and enjoyed being creative, and all of us had some winners. Tomorrow we’ll have an egg-ducking contest, and eat some of them. Maybe I’ll have time to post about that then.