Friday, April 6, 2012

Like most artists, my work is not always understood.

Right now it is spring break for me. Day seven of my ten days off of work. (This is one of the major benefits of working in education.) However, I spent the first five days of this break suffering from either the stomach flu or Ebola–I'm still not entirely sure–and so yesterday, when I finally felt only mildly queasy but basically energetic, I did what any normal person would do, who is just clawing her way back from the brink of death, and dyed Easter eggs in eight kinds off natural materials.

I have been collecting duck eggs for this purpose for a couple of weeks and I decided to get going right away. First, quite practically, with the aid of my eleven year-old I prepared a slow-cooker dhal for that night's dinner and cleared that away. Having done that, I gathered my dyeing materials, as follows.

5 bags Red Zinger Tea=Violet
Red Onion Skins=Red
Red Cabbage Leaves=Blue
Spinach Leaves=Green
5 bags Green tea=Yellow
Yellow Onion Skins=Orange
Beets =Pink

To each of these materials, I added 2 cleaned duck eggs, a splash of white vinegar and enough water to cover the eggs. I brought them to a boil, then simmered them for 15 minutes. At this point, I checked colors, discovered that all the eggs were still abysmally pale and decided to leave them sitting in the dyes all day. By the end of the day, I had the following results:
  • The spinach water wasn't even green, and the egg was still white. I got pissed off and added a couple of drops of green food color.

  • The yellow and red onion skins had produced identical results–a deep burnt sienna color.

  • The Red Zinger eggs were not violet but grey.

  • The espresso eggs were brown. I wouldn't recommend eating them, though.

  • The green tea eggs were more olive than yellow. Maybe I left them in too long. 

  • The beet eggs were white. I added red food color, after all the others were done (which is why they missed this photo shoot.)

  • The red cabbage eggs actually came out blue. Hallelujah!
One interesting problem was that, since these were homegrown eggs, cleaned by mere mortals, some of the protective  bloom had remained, and this caused them to dye unevenly and to peel in an odd way. I decided to work with it by taking the paper towel I was drying them on and using it to scratch designs into the eggs to work with the odd markings. They now resemble oddly shaped stones. 

When they were done, I summoned the kids to look at them. My six year-old had a friend over to play, who looked at them sympathetically and explained that his family every year dyed eggs using small plastic cups and dye tablets and that this was both simple and produced beautiful results.

"Who wants brown Easter eggs?" said my fourteen year-old.

I hoped perhaps that my mother might have a more favorable impression of them, age and experience informing her ability to appreciate their unique beauty. 

"Those are some hippie eggs, Tara.," she tells me.

Like most artists, my work is not always understood. This is all right. I did other useful things yesterday anyway, such as plant out potatoes in straw bales, set raspberries and strawberries in their respective beds, sow snow peas, and begin writing a play for my second graders to perform. Just the normal things you do on your first day back to good health.

And I wonder why I never get 'round to cleaning the baseboards.


  1. I LIKE the mottled look and pastel tones. Looks like could dive into them with Google Earth and find hidden worlds.

    1. I kind of like that about them, too. I guess they are just not kid-friendly. Kids must have invented PAAS.

  2. I want brown Easter eggs!
    I have been contemplating doing this, but in the end bought the ubiquitous unnatural method because "Mama! They have glitter and tie dye!" and I am nothing, if not a sucker for tie dye and small pleading monkey faces.
    I love your eggs and I feel like less of a person for not making blue eggs with red cabbage.

    1. That's OK. I have not been up to making blue eggs with red cabbage for the last fourteen and a half years I have spent as a parent. Now that my kids are old enough to run off outside for hours and forget about me, I am more inclined to do strange crafty things. I predict by the time they leave home I will be knitting sweaters for my salt shakers.

  3. The baseboards will wait--all hail hippie eggs!

    1. The baseboards will always wait until they can be cleaned by a small child. ;)

  4. Those eggs are gorgeous. Seriously.

    1. Thanks. Glad someone appreciates "my work." :)


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Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License