This easter, forgo the candy-colored tablets and vinegar for dyeing eggs with silk neckties. You can always find silk ties at the thriftstore (or maybe this is your chance to free the men in your life from any outdated neckwear). Dyeing eggs with neckties is one of my favorite seasonal projects because it incorporates green-crafting practices and, since you never know which ties will make the prettiest eggs, there’s a delightful mystery to it all.
My best friend’s aunt showed us this when we were kids. I remember the first time I unwrapped my tie-wrapped egg…MAGIC!!! They’re still so fun to unwrap. Martha Stewart featured this method in her online magazine in 2006, but I’d like to think that we beat Martha to it.
Anyway, on with the egg-dyeing!
Materials: raw eggs, fabric shears, sewing thread (white or light colors are best), and 100% silk neckties
Look for labels that say “all silk” or “100% silk.” Dont guess! It wont work with anything but 100% silk.
A word on choosing the ties: Blue and red are a dime a dozen. Greens and browns are rare so snatch them up if you see some. Sometimes the ugliest ties make pretty eggs, so dont discriminate 🙂
Dissect the tie, separating the silk from all of the liners and backing
With the right side facing the egg, cut a rectangle that easily covers the egg
Now wrap the egg with thread, carefully tucking the ends in like youre wrapping a present
Keep wrapping until you cant see any silk. Sometimes this takes a whole spool of thread
Boil for 15-20 minutes, cross your fingers, and unwrap!
My favorite of the bunch – an impressively crisp paisley
Blue checks with a tinge of pink (I think from the red thread)
Such pretty soft yellow dots!
All lined up
I hope this inspires you to give the silk-dyeing a try. As for what to do with your dyed eggs, I’ve read some warnings online about not eating them since the dye isn’t technically food-safe.
However we’ve always eaten them with no ill effects. Maybe the ill effects are coming…reader Joan who is a fiber artist commented below to remind everyone to a) not eat these and b) dye them in a separate pot. Thanks Joan!
You can keep them in a cool, dry location and after a few years the eggs will naturally dry out inside. As long as they don’t crack (which would be a nasty, smelly affair) you can use them year after year as decoration. My mom still sets out eggs that we dyed over a decade ago.
Several commenters have asked why not hollow out the eggs first. I’ve done it both ways and in my experience, hollowing them out makes the eggs pretty fragile. The pictures transfer best when you wrap the eggs TIGHTLY, which is hard to do when you’ve hollowed them. Maybe I just don’t have a delicate enough touch…you can certainly try hollowing them first and you might have better luck than me! I’d rather just let them dry out naturally over time.
Here are links to other crafty bloggers who have used this method and notes on their variations:
– The Magic Onions (weight the eggs down in the pot with a stone…brilliant!)
– Crafting in a Green World (use different ties on the same egg for a stripe effect)
– Our Best Bites (cover the silk with a piece of plain fabric instead of thread)
– Snaps and Blabs (some of the best pattern transfer I’ve seen!!)
– Cucina Testa Rossa (suggested by Lisa; rub finished eggs with oil for impressive shine)