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Eggs-citing Ways to Color Easter

We crack open some ideas on how to achieve beautiful dyed eggs, whether from a kit or with natural coloring.

Are you an Easter egg fan? Do you color your hardboiled beauties using kits from the store or do you like to go a more natural route? Whatever your color strategy, the stunning results are well worth the effort, said area "Marthas."

Angela Butorac and her crafty friend, Susan Keels, recently tried their hands at a natural egg-dying process that involves using everything from coffee and tea to saffron powder and wine.

Going “kit-free,” Butorac and Keels turned out a basketful of inspiring, inventive eggs, many of which feature an antiquated, rustic appeal. Others pop with colors as vivid as a gardenful of tulips and hyacinths.

“We love trying new things,” said Butorac of Sterling Heights. She runs Butorac Events and is an active member of the Greater Detroit National Association of Catering Executives (NACE).

Keels also is involved in event planning and is the director of sales and marketing for Royal Park Hotel in Rochester. Together they run the www.eventtrender.com blog.

“We like to share our entertaining inspirations,” said Keels, who lives in Troy. For her eggs, Keels first boils one bottle of merlot wine, 4 tablespoons of vinegar and 4 tablespoons of sea salt. Then she removes that mixture from the stove and adds the eggs, immersing for about three hours. 

Like a hand–painted look? You’ll need some acrylic paints, water and a couple of brush sizes (wide if you want to coat the whole egg one color first; thin, to add detail). Use acrylic gloss medium as a final step to coat the entire egg.

We went on a Easter egg fan hunt of sorts to reveal ideas, tips and memories for and about coloring eggs:

Colors of yesterday and today

Volunteer your talents: The Tartoni kids are heading to  in Farmington Hills to decorate eggs with the residents. “I received  an email from Christian service from  (in Farmington) where my children attend and they asked for volunteers to decorate eggs with the residents,” said Stephanie Acho Tartoni, who owns in Northville. “So I told my kids that it would be great for them to give of themselves and cheer the residents up,” added the Farmington Hills resident and mom of three.  

Skipping the extras:  “With us  — and now with great grandkids —  my mom always used the Rit Dye. On Good Friday, all seven of us would dye lots of eggs,” said Honey Murray of Troy. “Even though we were intrigued with the paper and sticky, printed 'add-ons' included, we would never use them — and usually not the wax crayons, either. We were dye purists.”   

String them along:  “When I was in grade school in Detroit we did a project with eggs that worked amazingly well,” recalled Peg Richard of Dearborn. “The yoke needs to first be blown out of the egg,” she said. “You then take very thin ombre yarn or string so that it graduates in color from light to dark  and use like a toothpick and Elmer’s glue to adhere it, starting at the bottom or top, wrapping it around the egg, right on top of each row.  As you work it makes a striped effect that is really cool looking.”

Tradition rocks: “It is our tradition to dye eggs a day or two before Easter,” said Clawson Mayor Penny Luebs. “I begin by boiling eggs, letting the eggs cool, putting a towel on the table and putting all of the supplies on the towel, i.e. bowls, spoons, dye kit from the store (this year I found the kit for 67 cents from Clawson's !), vinegar, water and eggs.” Luebs’ kids fill the bowls with colored dye tablets and measure the water and vinegar. “The kids (myself included) dye eggs, some as one complete color, some with two or three colors, some using the special white crayon to write a message on the egg before dyeing. It is a time of smiles, peace and joy when we are all involved in the same activity using our creative side to color and decorate and a sense of contentment when we see our results.”  

Ginny Fisher agrees. "Now that my son is 25 I don't dye them anymore, but did use the kits when he was younger and we loved dipping in multiple colors to get a striped, plaid and watercolor look," said the Birmingham-based realtor. "Not very fancy, but having fun with your kids was the most important part."

Tips for dyeing eggs

Start with clean, cool hard-boiled eggs.

To get a vintage look, wrap the eggs with cheesecloth before placing them in the dye. “That gives the eggs a marbleized texture,” Keels said.

Use brown eggs instead of white if you want more depth of color, Keels said. “And the longer the soak time, the more vibrant and intense the color, Butorac added.

With kits, consider creating color variations. For example, for pastel-colored eggs, add a tablet and three tablespoons of water to a one-cup container. Once the tablet has dissolved, add ½ cup of water.

A spoon works just as well as a kit’s wire egg dipper, said Butorac. “Just be really careful when turning the egg to get uniform colorization.”

For a long life for hand-painted eggs, poke a pinhole at both ends of the egg before painting and blow out the egg whites and yolk.

Consider embellishments not necessarily in a store-bought kit, once eggs are dry. Decorative additions include hand-stamped images, scrapbook stickers, jewels, ribbon, fabric flowers and more.

Display them well. “How you display them is as important as the eggs themselves,” said Keels. Butorac layers hers on a cupcake tree nestled in Easter grass-filled, flower-shaped cupcake liners, while Keels showcases her vintage-hued eggs in crystal candleholders. Port glasses, vintage teacups and votive candleholders also work well, they say. Or nest the eggs among store-bought moss trim and other natural elements.  

Natural dye recipes

Dye eggs naturally with these combinations from Susan Keels and Angela Butorac:

(hard-boil eggs first; add 3 tablespoons vinegar to each mixture; all liquid at room temperature except where indicated)

Light-brown: ¾ cup black coffee 

Yellow: 3/4 cup water, pinch of saffron powder

Purple: ¾ cup purple grape juice

Caramel: 3/4 cup boiling water, orange spice Lipton tea bag

Pink: juice from 1 can sliced beets

Bryce April 04, 2012 at 12:00 PM
A trick used by my grandmother: For an egg with a rich mahogany color, throw a couple of big handfuls of onion peel into the water during the boiling process. After cooling, apply a light coating of olive oil to the outside of the egg. They're beautiful.

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