Egg art is an extremely accessible craft. You can use almost anything and everything to decorate your eggs – from batik egg dyes to food colouring, washi tape to strips of tissue paper, and marker pens to glitter glue.
NOTES ON MATERIALS:
Batik egg dye is an aniline dye specifically used for egg art, which produces extremely intense colours and comes in both powder and liquid form. You can also use food colouring, which is available from all good grocery stores.
White wine vinegar - a teaspoon of white vinegar is used to activate the pigment in the batik egg dyes. It is also used for the vinegar-etched projects, whereby the egg is immersed in a jar of vinegar and the calcium in the eggshell breaks down to reveal the shell’s underlayer, creating a reversed-out pattern.
Beeswax is used to seal the colour of the egg, protecting the covered areas from the dye that is being applied and producing a decorative pattern. It is available in strips, sheets and blocks as well as a variety of colours; I mainly stick to black. For more complex patterns and projects that require multiple dyeing stages, I recommend using two or more colours to make it easier to keep track of where you are.
How to blow out an egg
The traditional way of blowing out an egg is to make two holes, one at each end, and then to blow out the contents.
1. Poke a small hole in the top of the egg with a drawing pin. Gently press the pointy end into the egg, twisting it carefully once it’s through the shell to widen the hole. You could also use any object that has a thin, pointed tip, such as a needle or a tiny screwdriver.
2. Flip the egg over and poke a slightly larger hole in the bottom. This is the hole the yolk and white will come out of.
3. Insert your pointed tool into either hole and wiggle it around to break up the yolk, so that it blows out more easily. It is advisable to do this over a bowl in case any of the contents of the egg leak out.
4. Hold the egg over a bowl to catch the yolk and white, then blow through the small hole at the top. The contents of the egg should come out of the bottom hole as you blow.
5. Once the contents have been removed, hold the egg with the top hole facing up under running water so that it runs through the egg and out of the bottom hole, thus rinsing out the inside of the egg.
Using a stylus
Before you begin drawing the design, you need to choose the right stylus for the job. Styluses come in many sizes, but I have used a small, medium and large for the projects in this book. Use a small stylus for fine, delicate lines; a large stylus for filling in large sections; and a medium stylus for everything else.
1. Heat the head of the stylus over the flame of a candle for 10 seconds.
2. Scoop a small amount of beeswax into the funnel of the stylus. If you are using honeycomb wax, rip it into small strips and feed it through the top of the stylus, being careful not to touch the hot stylus head.
3. Reheat the stylus over the candle flame until the beeswax has melted. Don’t leave the stylus over the flame for too long, otherwise the beeswax will get too warm and ‘blob’ when you try to create your pattern. Holding the stylus over the flame for a count of three should be sufficient.
4. Test the flow of the beeswax from the stylus on a piece of scrap paper before you start drawing on your egg. You can either draw the pattern with a pencil first, and follow the guidelines with the stylus and beeswax, or draw directly onto the egg with your stylus and beeswax.
Filling the hole before dyeing
Closing off the hole at the bottom of the egg will prevent the dye from flooding the egg.
1. Pinch off a bit of warm beeswax with your fingernails and roll it into a cone shape.
2. Insert this beeswax plug into the hole at the bottom of the egg and squash it down a bit.
3. Fill a stylus with beeswax and draw a line of wax around the base of the plug, where it meets the sides of the hole, to seal it.
Dyeing the egg
Throughout the book, I have used aniline dyes that require a teaspoon of vinegar to activate the pigment. However, you can use food colourings available at your local store instead.
1. Place the egg in the dye solution and spin it around until it is coated.
2. Gently push the egg down into the solution with a cup, so it is fully submerged in the dye.
3. Submerge the egg for 10–20 minutes until it reaches the desired colour. It’s important to turn the egg part way through the process to avoid uneven dyeing and light spots where it touches the container. Remove the egg from the dye and blot it dry with a paper towel.
Removing the wax plug after dyeing
Before melting the beeswax pattern off the entire egg, it is important to remove the wax plug first, so the egg does not explode.
1. Heat a pointed tool, such as a drawing pin or a needle, over a candle flame.
2. Insert the pointed tool into the plug, melting it open.
Removing wax from the entire egg
This is when the patterns are revealed.
1. Starting at the bottom of the egg and working your way up, hold the egg next to (but not in) the candle flame to avoid burn marks.
2. As the beeswax melts, wipe it off with a tissue. If there are stubborn areas of beeswax, use a craft knife to scrape them off.
Projects for you to try:
Peacock Feathers Egg - four-colour dye and gold paint
This egg would make a trendy keepsake and table décor for a wedding. The design for this egg has a strong spiritual meaning for people from cultures in which the peacock is worshipped. In wedding décor, for example, a peacock theme represents wealth and prosperity. It is a beautiful and thoughtful keepsake and gift idea.