Eggs have long been a symbol of springtime. We celebrate this each year by decorating Easter eggs, which has always been one of my favorite holiday projects.
Easter eggs aren’t just for egg hunts. A basket of them on the table makes an exquisite centerpiece for a traditional Easter dinner. Or you can write the names of your guests on the eggs, set them in egg cups and use them as place cards.
If you blow out the insides of the eggs before decorating them, they can be kept for years. They make lovely ornaments that can be hung from delicate branches.
I’ve experimented with different methods for creating Easter eggs, which can be elegant or whimsical, simple or intricate. Here are a few of those techniques, which don’t call for any expensive or hard-to-find supplies.
Creating hollow eggs
Easter eggs are frequently made from hard-boiled eggs, but these last for just a few days.
To keep eggs from one Easter to the next, blow out the insides before decorating them. The most efficient way to do this is with a tool made specifically for that purpose.
Use the sharp tip to pierce each end of the egg, then insert a thin skewer or toothpick into the egg to break the yolk. Reposition the tool at one end of the egg and squeeze the bulb; the air will force the egg out the hole at the other end.
(If you don’t have this tool, use a large needle to make the holes and a baby’s ear syringe to force air into the egg.) Rinse the inside of the egg well and let dry.
Dyeing eggs a solid color is often the first step in decorating. Use the liquid food colorings available at grocery stores.
Mix dyes to achieve different colors. Gently add an egg to the bowl and leave it until it reaches the desired shade. Transfer the egg to paper toweling; let dry completely before you continue decorating.
Decoupage, the art of decorating with paper cutouts, is easy to adapt to Easter eggs. Start by dyeing eggs in a variety of pale solid colors. Cut tissue paper in complementary colors into diamonds, squares, leaves and abstract shapes. Use pinking shears for a zigzag edge and a hole punch to make dots.
A product called gel medium (available at art-supply stores) will make the paper adhere to the eggs. Paint just a dab of the gel medium onto a tissue-paper cutout, then smooth the paper onto the egg. Repeat, adding more cutouts until the design is complete.
Plaid, polka-dot and monogrammed eggs can be created using masking tape and adhesive dots and letters.
First, prepare bowls of dye. To make a plaid egg, start with a white egg or one dyed a pale color. Band the egg lengthwise with quarter-inch-wide masking tape, positioning it to get a snug fit. Rub the tape down with your fingertip or a burnishing tool (available at art-supply stores) so dye can’t seep underneath it.
Dye the egg, let dry for about 10 minutes and then remove tape.
Band the egg with tape around its width and close to each end. Rub down the tape and dye as before. Remove tape when the egg is dry.
You can use a ribbon hanger and some charming decorations to turn Easter eggs into ornaments. To be light enough to hang, the eggs must be blown out as described above.
Dye them in solid colors, then use an assortment of ribbons, rickrack, small silk flowers and other pretty notions to decorate them.
For the hanger, form a ribbon into a loop by holding the two ends of a length of ribbon together. Put a pearl-tipped pin through these ends, insert the pin into the hole at the other end of the egg, and glue the pearl tip in place.
The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Martha Stewart New York Times Syndicate