Monday, March 15, 2010

Get Crafty: More about Silk Dyed Easter Eggs

As you may or may not have realized by now, I am addicted to small, colorful things. Like buttons. And kids. And these to-dye-for Easter eggs (pun intended!). The instructions are here, adapted in 2008 from Martha Stewart.

Well, I have an upcoming market event and want to display these amazing dyed eggs to show potential customers just how fun and fabulous my little kits really are. I needed eggs to show but without the hard-boiled egg smell lingering around my table for the full 6 indoor hours of the event. That would surely nix any chance for making friends with the neighbors :) So my wonderful mother-in-law gave me a quick how-to for blowing out eggs. I had never done it before, but she's been doing it that way all her life and is officially an expert.

The instructions:

  1. Using a small-tipped knife, gently peck at the pointy end of the egg and make a hole large enough to at least allow you to insert a tooth-pick. I was no good with the knife, so I stuck a thumbtack through a piece of paper on the counter, point up, and tapped the egg on it to make the hole. Since you don't see where you are hitting, this adaptation was less precise, but it worked for me.

  2. Then use the same technique (whichever worked for you) to peck a larger hole, maybe 3/16" to 1/4" diameter, in the rounder end.

  3. Insert a toothpick into the larger hole and mix it around to scramble the yoke.

  4. Blow into the smaller hole and the contents of the egg will come out the larger hole, hopefully into the bowl you had previously placed there for this purpose.

  5. Submerge the hollow egg in water to partially it, cover both holes and shake vigorously to clean, then blow the water out again. The eggs can then air dry, or you can begin the wrapping/dying process right away.
Egg blowing hints from my recent experiences:
  • Wear an apron!

  • Have a towel handy to wipe up gooey egg that will inevitably get on the counter.

  • If you gag easily, do yourself a favor and don't watch someone else do this. And don't let your weak-stomached kids watch either. (My 2 yr old boy started coughing and gagging when he saw me doing it, and said, "Those eggs awe a wittle bit gwoss!")

  • Plan ahead to make a quiche or French toast or other egg-heavy dish to use your newly made scrambled eggs :)
Tips for getting the best results when dyeing with silk (I'm assuming you've already read the instructions here):
  • This tip is basic, but please make sure your scraps are silk, not polyester! Not all ties are silk, so you need to check the labels. Or you could buy my kit and not worry about it :) If you use polyester or other non-natural fabric, your eggs will turn out whiter than the day they were laid.

  • If you get the silk scrap wet before wrapping, it will cling better to the egg, so you can get better coverage even with the smallest scraps. You can pull the silk on the bias to get more coverage than you might think, so even very small scraps can work.

  • There's no way to make the egg perfect on all sides, but I always try to get one very nice looking side - To do this, make sure the silk is as smooth and flat to the eggshell as possible on one side of the egg (with the right side of the fabric against the egg) and folded to cover the rest of the egg, then place the smooth side down in the middle of the white cloth... Wrap the egg in the white cloth very tightly, trying to keep the fabric pressed as tightly to the egg as possible, securing with a twist tie on the opposite side from the "nice" side. The resulting pattern on the twist-tied side will always be less distinct than the smooth side since there will be small pockets where the silk wasn't in close enough contact to allow the dye to transfer well. Since a picture is worth a thousand words... here's the visual:

  • Be careful when wrapping blown eggs because you can crush them (I have!).

  • You can use any non-reactive pot for the boiling. Martha recommends glass or enamel, but I always use stainless... the eggs turn out beautifully and the pot is no worse for the wear.

  • If dyeing blown eggs, you can boil longer (try 40 minutes) to get even more vibrant colors.

  • Silk scraps are reusable for dyeing multiple batches of eggs... darker scraps work best, but I have reused scraps with only a small decrease in the color vibrancy between batches.

  • To successfully dye blown eggs, you will need to keep them underwater. You can place a glass lid on top of them, a strainer insert, or anything stove-top safe that will keep them submerged without crushing them. If the weight seems like it might crush, place a glass canning jar in the bottom (open side up), and it will protect the eggs.

  • Very occasionally, even a silk scrap will produce a very light colored, boring egg. This is disappointing and unpredictable, but even that egg can be re-dyed with a different scrap, so all is not lost. Maybe not so edible after two boilings, but it should end up lovely looking!

  • Another interesting fact: Older eggs make easier-peeling hard-boiled eggs than fresh. Eggs can last months in the refrigerator without a significant loss of quality.

  • You can use brown eggs, but try to use the darkest scraps as your end result will always be muddier-looking on brown eggs than white, and light colors may not show up at all.

Once you get it down, you have an official license to go crazy with this technique. If you have silk pieces left over that definitely won't cover an egg, you can cut out cute shapes and use those to dye on an otherwise white egg. Make sure the silk shape is on the "nice" side, and make sure the white cloth is very tight in that area. Be especially wary of silk lint here, as even tiny bits will give you color where you'd rather not have it. Getting the shape wet is critical here. You know you want to give it a whirl!

And, because I've been Fightin' Irish since 9th grade, I couldn't help myself:

I hope those tidbits help you get the best results from your egg-dyeing experience! Dyeing eggs this way is one of those rare situations of honest-to-goodness happy surprises... you're sure to be pleased, no matter the outcome :) Like anything, practice makes perfect, so don't throw away the fabric after you're done... go make another batch!


Ginny Huber said...

These eggs are really beeautiful! I've been admiring your kits and the wonderful results you have gotten from this process; and of course, am envious of your amazing way of inventing, displaying and marketing .these and others of your creations.

Felt Sew Good said...

These eggs are gorgeous! I've seen your kits for sale on Etsy and I'm glad I found your blog for the extra info and tips. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to have to try this!

Erin M. said...

I noticed that these eggs were brighter than your others. They do look beautiful. Nice work.

Reenie said...

I love them!! You are so my crafting hero! Definitely gotta try these this year. And your photography is stunning- every single time.
- Your biggest fan

hometown girl said...

we had so much fun with these! i love the polka dot one :) hope all is well! susan

txjanet said...

At the zoo where I used to work in the bird department, we used to collect the eggs from birds (which were lone females, or whom we didn't want to have chicks), blow them out, and refill them with plaster of paris (and give them back to the birds for a while so they could nest, otherwise they would just keep laying). Wonder if this would work so these beautiful eggs would last longer? Thanks for sharing this!

Lisa said...

Hi Karen,
these are sooo beautiful! We are going to be dying eggs for a church activity, and I was wondering if I could get your permission to use your photos for our invitations? I am no photographer and my photos just don't do it justice! It is a private activity with no profit, just a fun crafting night with the church ladies. Anyways, you can email me at thanks so much! And good luck with the baby, I just recently had my second. Hope all is going well!!