Vintage natural egg dyeing methods (1917)

The USAA says that when shell eggs are hard-cooked, the protective coating is washed away, leaving open pores in the shell where harmful bacteria could enter. Be sure to refrigerate eggs within two hours of cooking, and use them within a week.

About Easter eggs

Grandmother’s way of dyeing them beautiful hues

Aniline dyes, and, with them, the absolutely harmless Easter egg pigments are, we are told, soaring higher as to price and falling short as to quality with every day. By taking a bit more trouble, however, the mother who objects to spending more money for an inferior article than it is worth may turn out eggs quite as attractive as the costly decorated ones by dyeing them as our grandmothers used to do them.

Grandma had but two dyes at her command, from which she evolved many shades by commingling and diluting the “tea” which she procured by steeping logwood and Pernambuco wood.

She produced charming and artistic effects by laying tender leaflets, blades of grass and red onion peel — cut in stars and crescents or just applied in a sort of hit and miss manner upon the egg — and winding narrow white tape round and round the egg to keep the leaves and peels in place. An egg so swaddled, if boiled for half an hour in strong tea or coffee, or even in plain water, will come out a veritable little thing of beauty. Just wrapping an egg in this way in onion skins or young and tender spinach leaves and boiling for an hour will result in lovely green or red “marbled” eggs.

Vintage women's fashion: The stylish small hat (1915)

Grandma’s finest results, however, were obtained by treating the eggs — previously boiled stone hard — as follows:

With a wooden meat skewer dipped in melted wax (grandma took a candle and melted it down, but paraffin is far better) she drew upon the eggshell in heavy lines an initial, monogram, chick or bunny and submerged the eggs so decorated for twenty-four hours in strong vinegar, the whiter the better. After which, she thoroughly rinsed them in water not too hot. The vinegar eats away the lime surface of the egg, leaving the paraffin lines standing out in high relief. Eggs so treated look like old ivory carvings and are truly artistic.


Photo by Andrea.Pacheco — and see the natural dye how-to for these eggs here

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