Happy Spring: Botanical Dyeing

Plants are amazing and often surprising! Some of you may know that in addition to being flower obsessed, I dabble in fiber arts and I love botanical dyes–it’s part of the magic. Different parts of plants (be it the flower, the fruit, the root or the leaves) hold the secret capacity to color other parts of our world. When you dye fiber, you likely need it to be colorfast, and some botanical dyes simply can’t deliver in that area.  But with eggs, that isn’t a factor, so it’s a much more approachable project.

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Upon feeling brightly-colored-egg envy while scrolling through Instagram the night before Easter, I had to make some of my own. Beets, cabbage, turmeric and blueberry tea were all I needed to make the rainbow, so various bloggers and ‘grammers displayed! It took two hours from idea conception to cleanup, including a trip to the store. I’ve never dyed eggs with plants before, so this was super exciting.

Only wanting to boil a dozen eggs, I didn’t think I needed much dye. Maybe two or three eggs per color, so it was pretty quick and I didn’t need a lot of supplies. Here’s how I made the rainbow:

Pink/Red: That’s easy. Beets! I roughly diced one beet and boiled in a few inches of water. Strained out veg and added a splash of vinegar to the liquid. 

Orange: I attempted orange by mixing the dye baths of above beets and below turmeric. I’d say it was successful. 

Yellow: Also super simple– I just microwaved a bowl of water with turmeric shaken in. Stir it around, add some vinegar. Voila. 

pink (beet dyed), yellow (turmeric dyed) and orange (mixed bath) eggs

Green: We didn’t care much about green, so this came about by accident. I read online blueberry tea, or boiled blueberries, would make purple. After this happened, I looked at the ingredients on the tea…hibiscus, rosehip, blah blah blah and bluberry leaves last. Oh well! It dyed the egg mostly grey, but in certain light it looks muted green. Not the purple I was looking for, but oh well. 

Blue (below): I was very skeptical about this one! Red cabbage? I put red cabbage in kimchi recently and it turned the whole jar a vibrant fuchsia. How would it dye eggs blue? Online, people boasted of turquoise, deep navy and robin’s egg blue from this veggie.  I chopped a third of the red cabbage into chunks and set to simmer in a little pan of water.  The dye bath was a deep purple, but vinegar turned it pink, so I made more cabbage juice. I think for a darker color, I needed a more concentrated dye bath. But I think it’s pretty anyway–lessons for next time! 

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Everything was left to sit overnight except one each turmeric and beet to compare the colors after varying steeping times. See below the difference in beet-dyed eggs. The purpley one on the far left was soaked overnight, but I wiped it off with a towel to clean it up a bit. Middle was soaked for only 30 minutes. The rightmost, third egg was overnight soaked and not washed off.

beet-dyed eggs

Clearly I had a heyday with this project.

plant dyed eggs

The magic of flowers and plants is seemingly never-ending. I hope, if you celebrate Easter, you had a lovely one. For myself and those of you who don’t– Happy Spring! Welcome, cheery colors and warming sun. Welcome, this phase of new growth and fresh beginnings.

plant dyed eggs in rainbow colors

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