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.

Buckthorn yellow

Looks like this year, besides doing my usual favourite patterns, I will also be heavily exploring the book by Odarka Onyshchuk.

Here is the first chicken egg this year. The greenish main line is malva, but it is not cooperating very well this year. Then etching back to white with vinegar, and then buckthorn for yellow. Nice yellow, I must say, the way I like yellow to be. I used the buckthorn extract – finishing up old maiwa samples. Took maybe a teaspoon or two of what used to be the powder (hard to tell how much, as it was clumped into one blob), boiled for 10 min. with a little or cream or tartar and alum, let cool, filtered through a paper towel, and here we come. The yellow pigment is supposed to come from unripened buckthorn berries.

The pattern itself (with different colors and some minor differences) is supposedly from Volyn, she calls it “leafy swastika”. It’s surprisingly simple, and at the same time cute. I will definitely make it again, because I really liked it (and that doesn’t often happen to me), and I feel that I didn’t quite do justice to the pattern. So stay tuned for more versions of this egg.

Red cabbage dye

I was a bit sceptical about the cabbage dye, but so far was pleasantly surprised. Let’s see how the color lasts, and whether it withstands time and light. How to make a cabbage dye? Ask google. I did, and found a bunch of step-by-step instructions. I’ll add one more.

Got some red cabbage. Actually, it’s been sitting in the fridge for months and was quite tired looking. If you get a fresher one, perhaps you’d get a better color.

Chopped the cabbage, put in a metal container, barely filled with water. The more cabbage, the better, only put as much water, as you need for the dye. I put around 300 ml for half a small cabbage.

Boiled the cabbage in water for about 15 min., strained and squeezed as much liquid from the cabbage as I could. Got this sort of purplish color.

Since I’m not a fan of purple, I added some baking soda, to turn the purple into teal. You could keep the purple if you like it, or add acid (vinegar) to change it more towards red. I didn’t do it, I like it blue. Added some alum.

Here is what the white egg looked like after some time in the dye.

On the left – olive green achieved with cabbage dye after coreopsis. With time I realized, the results are better when dyeing repeatedly, that is, put it for a while in the dye, then pull it out, let it dry and rest, and then put back into the dye again. See the first photo – the blue background egg has been in the cabbage dye three times.

The egg on the right was used to write on it and then was etched with vinegar. I made a mistake of washing the wax off with hot water, the dye did not like that and came off in some places. Regular method (though done quite carefully) of taking the wax off with the candle, worked much better with preserving the dye – you can see that in the first photo.

The dye smells like cabbage, which is not particularly pleasant, but other than that does not spoil fast – I’ve had it for a month, most of the time it’s been in the fridge, and it’s still working fine.

UPD. After some time the eggs are not smelling like cabbage any more, which is great.

For more eggs died with this dye, see red cabbage tag.


My first experiment with natural dye powder. So, this is coreopsis extract, I mixed 0.5 teaspoon of the dye powder with 250ml of boiling water, added a pinch of alum. Put the plain egg in when it was still slightly warm, because I was just too curious. As a result, rich gold, quite fast – maybe 15 min. or so. I used an old unemptied chicken egg, it was partially dried out due to sitting on a desk for a few months, had to weigh it down with a spoon so it doesn’t float.

And here is the second egg dyed (the one with a pattern), this one took longer about half an hour, but is looking ok still.

Oh yes, and I almost forgot, it smells beautifully of honey!

For more eggs dyes with coreopsis, see coreopsis tag.