Beyond the Dye-cup
Use different art techniques to make Discount Store Eggs into fabulous Easter Accents
I love coloring Easter Eggs. It was a tradition I shared with my kids for years, and even as they grew up I continued to bully them into helping me with the coloring each Easter. Happily, Gaia enjoys the ritual as much as I do, and since we will once more host the Holiday Dinner and Egg Hunt this year, we will soon be swirling hard-boiled eggs into cups of bright color and tinting the hen-fruits in shades that don’t necessarily occur in nature.
While we are excited to try using spices and other natural materials to make dye, I am not certain whether time will allow us to get to that this season or not. For some years now, I have been enamored of a Marbleized dying technique I found on Martha Stewart’s web site originally. While my eggs never came out exactly like those in the photos, these two-tone eggs always end up looking so organic, with such interesting variations of shade and color, that I have used this technique several times.
In the past, I used both terracotta and paper mache eggs for more permanent Easter display. I have used various techniques to decorate them, ranging from bead sculpture to ink-jet printer transfers. Since we are just launching our business this Spring, I have not had nearly enough time to get to all that I would like. I taught a class on beading eggs when I was proprietor of a bead-shop, and I will at some point adapt that into a tutorial on this website. I will also feature the eggs with transfers ( I loved the effect) in the future.
Since I had, out of curiosity as much as anything, picked up a package of the plain white plastic eggs that are now offered at discount stores. I was thinking along the lines of decoupage or something, but looking at them, I decided the matte finish should lend itself to paint also. After discovering that they were now available in a chalkboard finish as well, Gaia and I decide to try some of those. I already had it in mind to try some pastel colors with a spatter effect, so we pulled out the carousel of acrylic paints, along with various brushes and sponges. We had some chalk markers I had bought but not yet used, and I wanted to try using my alphabet rubber stamps on a couple of the dark chalkboard eggs. What follows is a report on our various experiments with these eggs, what worked well and what didn’t, and what we would do differently next time.
We both had a lot of fun, but I am pretty sure that Gaia had a blast. I worked on eggs between other chores and activities. Since there is no doubt that my youngest daughter is the real artist of the two of us, this was only fair. I did solid colors on my eggs so I could try spattering them. Gaia let her imagination run wild and came up with some very cool eggs. I also did the chalkboard eggs stamped with the word Easter and the names of my youngest granddaughters. So here’s what we found:
- The plastic eggs take the acrylic paint very well. They covered easily and completely.
- We used mini muffin tins covered with plastic wrap to lay the eggs on while they dried. It worked pretty well, but you had to let them dry before completely covering. (Someone cleverer would no doubt come up with something better.)
- Gaia used candle stick holders to hold her more detailed eggs for working and drying. Since she was only doing a few at a time, this worked great.
- I found paint on the rubber stamps difficult to control, but learned that my lighter colored ink pads worked fine on the chalkboard eggs. Still, they were hard to position and not as much fun as I thought they might be.
- The white and the green chalkboard pens worked well on the dark eggs, but the red was not very visible.
We took the eggs to be spattered outdoors and used a cardboard box turned on its side and lined with some bubble wrap to keep the eggs from rolling around. We experimented with several brushes and techniques. The regular artist’s brushes began softening once they were loaded with paint a time of two, and shot blobs and strings of paint and not the spots I was going for.
After trying several different brushes, I discovered that the stiff-bristled nylon cleaning brush from my toolkit worked quite well.
Using my thumbnail to swipe across the brush and holding it quite near the eggs gave a nice effect. The size of the spatters was regulated by how much paint was loaded onto the bristles and varied with pattern of scraping against them.
We used yellow and white paint for a couple of chalkboard eggs we reserved for this purpose, and several shades of dark paint on the others. I liked the effect on all the eggs for the most part and am glad to have figured out the trick with the brush as I will want to use the spatter technique again.
When we were ready to finish our eggs off with a light coat of clear gloss acrylic we just used our trusty cardboard box again.
I sat it upright and covered the bottom with bubble-wrap. I sprayed lightly and evenly, then closed the top flaps of the box to let the remainder of the aerosolized gloss settle, then left them to dry thoroughly before turning to do the other side. I wasn’t looking for a thick, too glossy finish, so this worked very well. I think it was a good idea to set our finishes on the eggs, particularly those on which we used the rubber stamps and the chalk markers.