Celeb News

The egg and dye

Put a little tradition back into Easter with a clutch of engraved eggs, which have long been part of European Easter celebrations. Although motifs differ from country to country, the essential technique of scratching onto a dyed egg is the same throughout Europe. It is not a difficult process, and a collection can be built up over many years, personalised with recipients' names or perhaps engraved with the date and place of your celebrations. But if engraving seems too much trouble, the simple dyed eggs themselves are very sculptural. Materials
  • Hen eggs (we used 70g (2 oz) size)
  • Dylon Multi-purpose Dyes in chosen colours - one tin will dye several eggs
  • White vinegar
  • Cooking salt
  • Glass or ceramic containers
  • Newspaper
  • Fine skewer or darning needle
  • Scalpel or craft knife
  • Olive oil
Method Eggs must be dyed before they are blown, as it is very difficult to weight an empty egg. Mix half a disc of Dylon dye with 500ml of hot water, two tablespoons of vinegar and one tablespoon of salt. Stir until salt is dissolved and allow to cool completely. Do not be tempted to put eggs into dye until dye is completely cool or the contents might cook a little and you will then not be able to blow the egg. Place two or three eggs into dye and weight with an old saucer, if necessary, so that they are completely submerged. Allow to remain in dye for an hour or so, or until they are as deeply coloured as you desire. Remove from dye and rinse under gently running water, then place on several thicknesses of newspaper to dry. Using a fine skewer or darning needle, carefully make a hole in both ends of an egg, poking skewer into egg to break yolk. Holding one end over a bowl, blow hard so that contents of the egg are expelled into the bowl, until egg is empty. Discard contents. Allow egg to dry again. If you are nervous, you can use a lead pencil to sketch a basic outline onto an egg, but remember that the designs are more appealing if they are na ve. If you feel you really can't draw a simple chicken or rabbit, it is easy to divide your egg into segments, either vertically or horizontally, and fill in the stripes with different patterns. The result is still very effective. Using the point of a sharp scalpel or craft knife, scratch a pattern onto the surface of the egg, using short scratching strokes to remove the dye and expose the natural colour beneath. Don't grip the egg too firmly - remember it is fairly fragile - and don't design too complicated a pattern, as too much engraving will weaken the shell. When design is completed, moisten your fingers with a tiny amount of olive oil and rub over the surface of the egg to give a soft glow. If you use too much oil, wipe off the excess with a tissue. (Handmade: A collection of beautiful things to make, p.242/243)

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