I’m usually completely oblivious to Easter when March rolls around. Then, sure enough, I see people indulging in cool Easter crafts and I wish I’d paid attention to my calendar. This year, my Muji day planner did its job and I remembered to make these natural dye Easter eggs with washi tape patterns. I’m so glad I did. It really brought back the Easter memories.
I remember plenty about celebrating Easter as a child. I remember the annual department store visit with my mother and grandmother, to find some new and unnecessary, frothy Easter dress, light and lacy with a stiff crinoline skirt, to be worn with ruffled socks and painful white patent leather shoes. I remember getting my hair done. First as a very small child I would get seated between someone’s legs to get my hair straightened with a hot comb. Later, as a slightly bigger child I would feel the burn of a chemical relaxer. I don’t recall having a say in either of these processes and both felt a bit like violations of my human rights. But the relaxer was the lesser of two evils for a six year old. I remember my disastrous bangs, the results of sleeping with sponge rollers in my freshly straightened hair. And I remember always having a photo taken, in which I would deliver the cheesiest fake smile known to man.
None of this, the dress, the patent leather shoes, the ruffled socks, the bangs, was for me. I liked dressing up as kid, but this kind of orthodox drudgery was not for me. If I could choose, I always wanted to dress like someone at least ten years my senior. I will admit, I was all about my little Easter purse and my little white gloves, but that’s because those are gestures I associated with older women. No. Overall, it was not for me. It was for my mother and my grandmother. Because Easter is a fashion competition for black folks and god forbid you are not ready to compete when that Sunday arrives. My compliance in all the Easter pageantry was my gift to them.
Well, it wasn’t really a gift. A gift has no expectation of reciprocation. In this case, I knew I’d be compensated fairly in the form of an overflowing Easter basket. My mother was, and is, a candy enthusiast (she prefers it to food) and she took great joy in putting together a basket filled with Technicolor Peeps (never liked them), egg shaped Reese’s peanut butter cups, plastic eggs filled with yet more candy, and of course, the pièce de résistance, a big chocolate bunny. Even with the promise of a basket full of candy, decorating eggs was always the Easter ritual that felt most special. I mean, when else do you get to decorate eggs?
Aesthetically, the natural dye Easter eggs I made this year depart from the drug store kit of my childhood in most ways. The color palette and the geometric patterns of these natural dye and washi tape eggs feel a little Murakami, a little Memphis Milano, and I love it. The great thing about this project is that you can make it look however you want.
- 1/2 head of red cabbage, chopped (Blue)
- 2 tbsp of turmeric powder (Yellow)
- 1 medium sized beet, grated (Pink)
- Distilled white vinegar
- 4 cups of water, per dye batch
- Pot for each dye batch
- Slotted spoon (other utensils)
- Washi Tape (Japanese rice paper masking tape)
Red Cabbage Dye (Blue):
Add chopped cabbage, raw eggs, and 1 tbsp of white vinegar to four cups of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil for five minutes and remove from heat. Remove eggs when they should be hard-boiled to your liking. You can leave some eggs in the dye batch for hours or overnight to get a variety of shades of blue. I achieved my darkest blue by soaking for eight hours.
Turmeric Powder (Yellow):
Add two tbsp of turmeric powder and raw eggs to four cups of water in a small pot. Repeat above steps.
Add the grated beet 1 tbsp of white vinegar to four cups of water in a small pot. Repeat above steps. I achieved a brownish color by pulling one egg out of the beet dye very early. I soaked others for eight hours.
After your eggs have completely dried, cut small shapes out of washi tape and apply to eggs. The washi tape is easy to pull off and reapply. So don’t be afraid to try out an idea.
Natural dyeing is a multi-step, slow craft process and time for experimentation is key. If you are using this process to dye eggs, give yourself at least a full 24 hours to get it done.
This project can be simplified in a couple of ways. Instead of using natural dyes, you can use premade dyes for much quicker results. Or you can cut out the dyeing all together and apply your washi patterns to hard-boiled white or brown eggs.
If you try this craft combo of natural dyes and washi tape patterns, or one of the simplified versions, let me know how it turns out!