Red tulips, green dye

This idea came from Сніжана Король, who successfully dyed eggs with green dye made of red tulips. Don’t be surprised, it’s quite common for fresh red flowers to dye eggs green. I must say, the tulip dye dyes surprisingly well and surprisingly fast, smells a bit like raw potato, and we’ll have to wait and see about the light-fastness.

Now, the recipe. I didn’t have red tulips, so I bough some in the store (was looking for as dark a red as possible), and enjoyed them till they wilted.

Took the flowers, chopped them with scissors, did not soak them (though you could try, it’s generally recommended), covered with 500ml of hot water and cooked in a pot for about 20 min. at more or less boiling temperature. Let them cool, strained the petals and threw them out, added alum and the dye was ready. The dye gave much even tone on an egg wiped with vinegar before dyeing, so I would recommend that.

The book I have on dyeing fibres with plant dyes suggested that adding alum with vinegar, or, optionally iron, would produce different colors. As you might already know, it doesn’t always work the same for eggs. After playing a bit with the basic alum recipe, I split the dye into two cups, and added a gulp of vinegar into one, and iron mordant into the other. Not recommended, both of these.

Below, clockwise, from top (12) to bottom left (9):

  • untreated chicken egg in a dye with alum, 10 or 15 min.
  • dye with alum, chicken egg wiped with vinegar before the first coat of dyeing, first shade 10 min, next shade 1 hour, next shade about 12 hours. Beautiful (never mind my shaky hands, I’ve been doing so much of drop-pull, that the regular kistka is refusing to make even curves).
  • brown chicken egg, dye with alum – not as even as white egg.
  • goose egg pre-dyed yellow with old coreopsis – ok, but not as vibrant as white chicken.
  • chicken egg, dye with alum and vinegar – became all spotty and coming off easily. Perhaps too much vinegar? Anyway, not recommended, no need to spoil a perfectly dyeing dye.
  • chicken egg, dye with alum and iron

I have no more functional tulip dye left, so my tulip experiment is over for now, but there are still plenty of tulips around Toronto, so now it’s your turn. And yes, my book says that yellow tulips can give a yellow dye, and can also be supplemented with daffodils and narcissi. It says there to use the mordants for yellow that I don’t use (tin or chrome), but you could try just alum, and see what happens, anyway it is different on eggs than it is on fibres.

Books: Lithuanian Easter Eggs

Of all the books I’ve added to my egg-related library this year (and I’ve added quite a few), this one is definitely number one treasure. Out of print, I found the used copy and bought it. It was expensive, but worth every dollar, if you are into that kind of thing.

This is a proper ethnography work, the kind we don’t see much these days, it has a very detailed, sober, and well written textual part, 80 pages as you can see above with some black and white photos of eggs, and then about 130 pages of color plates with over 1200 egg patterns.

Here is an example of the text page, where he is talking about natural dyes used in the past:

Now, two main kinds of traditional Lithuanian Easter eggs are the scratched ones, and the drop-pull ones, which he calls wax-resist. Even though I have relatively little knowledge and experience of scratched eggs, traditionally they were not very common in Ukraine, from what I can see, the Lithuanian scratched eggs have unique patterns, nothing like what I have seen in scratched eggs from other countries. Here are the plates with photos of these:Lithuanian drop-pull eggs are much more similar to drop-pull eggs from other traditions, though they also might have some with a style unique to Lithuanians. I’ve been working on the drop-pull technique recently, playing with the patterns from this book, maybe with time and experience (and exposure to more drop-pulls from other countries), I would be able to pinpoint the uniquely-Lithuanian motifs, but not right now. I’m also missing the resources to properly documented drop-pull patterns from other countries, so don’t have much field for comparison. Here are the four photo plates of drop-pulls.The rest are color plates with what looks like printed patters, they are exactly hang-and-half scratched and drop-pull, but I’n only giving here the examples of drop-pull, as these are my main interest.So now I have years of playing with Lithuanian drop-pull eggs ahead of me, really grateful for having found this book, it’s an absolutely amazing resource.

Books: Country Colours by Carolyn Lock

I’m starting a series of posts about useful books with this beautifully done guide to dyeing wool using common plants that grow in Nova Scotia, published by Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, N.S. 1981. You probably wouldn’t buy it, unless you are really interested (amazon sells used copies for $10-15), so I will copy here the things I found useful or interesting. I found this book in my university library, so you might find it in some libraries as well.

The book has a nice intro and a chapter on history, then directions on natural dyeing of wool. This contains a chart some of you might find useful on different mordants, with proper and common names, see below.

Then some information on collecting the plants, which I will omit here, and then a set of charts with records of plants collected and what color they gave with which mordant. Something I found extremely interesting in this chart was that sometimes the same plant with same mordant gave a different color if collected a month later, so this is something to be aware of. Here are all of these charts. Continue reading

Goose egg drop-pull spree

I wanted to keep using the dyes I made for the Pysanky Toronto retreat. The dyes were not very cooperative at the even, but when they came back home and relaxed a bit, they were dyeing just fine, so it would be a shame to not use them. Still working on the strokes, and starting to work on the variety of patterns. All these patterns are from the Lithuanian book.

Dyes:

  • Top-left, coreopsis extract then sappan wood
  • Top-right dyer’s broom extract, then mulberry, then sappan wood (red)
  • Bottom: coreopsis extract, then sappan wood, then vinegar etched to white, then dyer’s broom to bright yellow and immediately after mulberry.

Pysanky Toronto retreat

The 3-day pysanky retreat in Toronto is now over, it’s been a wonderful experience, amazing people, new friendships, exquisite art, ingenious craft, and the atmosphere full of inspiration, which, I’m sure, will last for a while. If you have an interest in decorating eggs, whether traditional, or contemporary, you have to come next year! (Possibly in June). Whether you are new at this, or you have been doing it for years, you will learn a lot.

Now, this is the only egg I managed to do, I just enjoyed too much seeing what others are doing, chatting, learning…

I was asked to do a presentation on natural dyes, and that in itself was a wonderful experience for me. I felt welcomed and very much encouraged, there is a lot of interest and desire to use natural dyes on eggs. I also made brought a set of 6 dyes, and even though natural dyes require much more time than chemical ones, they are very unpredictable, and some of them did not want to cooperate, several people tried them. By next time I think I will figure out a more cooperating set of dyes, and that will probably make a difference.

Gold – coreopsis extract, brown – combination of dried sappan wood dye and logwood extract dye. Chicken egg.