This eco-friendly craft can go from a simple twenty-minute project to a full-fledged artistic adventure lasting several hours. The result is quite beautiful in either case. My mother first made a batch of blown natural silhouette eggs with my sister and me when we were little. She saw the article in Sunset Magazine two decades ago explaining how to silhouette leaves and ferns onto blown eggs using natural, homemade dyes.
I envisioned myself with pots full of red cabbage bubbling and beautiful eggs emerging from the multicolored washes. In fact, I flubbed this craft up quite a bit before I had success. Hopefully you will learn from my un-Martha-like mistakes and have better luck.
The Easy Way: Boil the eggs. If you choose this option, skip blowing the eggs and go right to step two.
The Advanced Way: Blow the liquid out to make hollow eggs. The disadvantage of this method is the time it takes, but the benefit is that blown eggs can be used year after year as an Easter centerpiece. I tried blowing the eggs myself but had little success and nearly passed out after my first attempt. Eventually I found that using a bicycle pump with a needle attachment (like the kind you use for inflating soccer balls) works far better. Make a small hole at the top and bottom, insert the needle attachment and blow out the egg liquid.
Step 2: Find some attractive leaves, ferns and small flowers. Ferns work especially well, as will smooth leaves that easily adhere to the egg surface. I tried a few leaves and pine needles that were too textured. These eggs ended up with no silhouette whatsoever since the dye was able to seep along the bumps of the leaf and cling to the eggshell.
Step 3: Rummage around for nylons. It is neither cost effective nor eco-friendly to buy these new, so if you can, hunt up a used pair. They will work better if they have a great deal of elasticity left in them.
Step 4: Place the leaf on the egg and cover with the nylon. Be sure to tightly tie the nylon around the egg so that the plant stays close to the egg during the dyeing process. My first attempts at dyeing were failures because I didn’t stretch the nylon as tight as it would go around the egg. Because the leaf wasn’t secured to the eggshell, the silhouette didn’t ever appear.
The Easy Way: Plop the nylon covered egg into a mug of water with food coloring and vinegar. If you want to make your own dyes, see the hard way below. But if your life is too busy for the extra hour or two of work, just use food coloring. The longer you let the egg sit in the dye, the more dramatic the contrast. Also, try not to check it too frequently since it will disturb the dye and could affect the quality of the silhouette. If it’s been at least fifteen minutes, remove the nylon and admire your creation! You’re done!
The Advanced Way: Cut up natural ingredients, dump them into a pot of water and create your own dye washes. See my last post about using natural foods to create your own dyes. I love the earthy shades that emerge with home-made dyes. It’s best to boil down the natural ingredients until you have a few different colors of wash. Then strain out the veggie scraps and cool the dye water.
Add the blown eggs to the dye washes and toss in a good splash of vinegar. The hollow eggs will be difficult to submerge. You’ll have to weigh them down by putting small lid inside the pan and placing a heavy object on top. It will take quite a while for the dye to set so be ready to let them sit for up to an hour. And you’re done!
Overall, this craft is a good way to get your family outdoors exploring spring’s newest arrivals. Take the easy route and simplify your life or try your ultra crafty skills on the advanced version of this project. Chances are, you’ll do better than I did!