By Edith Morgan
Just eating eggs is the very least we can do with them! Their perfect oval shape, their size and their great availability, make eggs ideal arts and crafts vehicles! And since their price has gone up lately, the plastic, wooden, and even balloon-shaped ones can be used for projects at this time of year.
It seems that eggs are featured in the rituals of several major religions in the spring – at Easter time, on the Seder platter, and in various recipes. For this particular article, I will just comment on their decorative uses.
At the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, you can see exquisitely decorated eggs, in the style of what we here call “Ukrainian,” done with beeswax and dye, using raw eggs that are put in the oven at 200 degrees, to melt down the wax once the designs are put on them. It is a very time-consuming process, and I will not take time to give all the directions – they are available, and if you have lots of time and ambition, give it a try. If you are lucky, the eggs will last many years. I have had only one or two “go bad,” emitting an awful odor which you will recognize.
One of my favorite sources of inspiration is a little English book, published in 1997, called “The Decorative Egg Book,” by Deborah Schneebeli Morrell.
Beautifully illustrated in color, it contains “twenty charming ideas for creating beautiful displays.” It also shows in words and pictures each step for achieving the beautiful effects desired.
Another great resource is the March 2016 issue of “Living” which has ideas and how-to pictures to help you design speckled eggs (and a lot of other ideas for Easter décor and food).
And if you are a “collector,” as I am, you will have cut out from newspapers and magazines, lots of ideas for doing things with eggs, or egg-shapes. I attended a workshop to learn to make chicks and rabbits out of plastic eggs, using multi-colored fleece! Those cuties are soft and fluffy and last forever, unlike the decorated eggs using REAL eggs. I always feel a bit guilty using real food for these projects, but maybe I can justify this by remembering that art is food for the soul and lasts much longer and “feeds” many more people.
You do not need expensive tools to produce beautiful results: you can wrap eggs with ribbon, metallic thread, bits of lace – whatever odds and ends you have around the house. And since you are not eating these eggs, you can use Elmer’s glue if you did not buy the special art glue.
I recently saw a short video showing how to create beautiful designs on eggs by using old neckties, cutting them into squares, wrapping each egg, tying the top, and boiling them in water with vinegar in it, for about 30 minutes. Apparently, the vinegar and the heat cause the color from the ties to transfer to the egg shell.
And, of course, if time runs out, there are always the egg-coloring kits that you can buy everywhere these days. They make it almost foolproof to turn out lovely, colorful eggs. For eating, better use your regular food coloring – you can do a lot with Q-tips and pastry brushes. Let your imagination go!