You don't have to use artificial colourants to decorate Easter eggs - try natural colouring agents! We certainly all know the red-brown colour we get when we boil eggs with onion peels. You can also achieve other colours naturally, you only need to know from what and how. We are glad to help.
Yellow colour used to be acquired from saffron which is unfortunately not readily available today. So try curry instead. If you can be happy with light yellow to green-yellow, use ginger, crab apple tree bark, linden or dogwood blossom, oats, cumin or leaves from alfalfa or clover hay. Light green colour can be achieved using leaves from nettles, spring clover, ash tree, rosemary, birch, parsley, mistletoe and myrtle. The previously most popular red colour was achieved by boiling Easter eggs in red onion peels, but you need to add a bit of vinegar into the infusion. Red brown colour occurs when boiling eggs in white onion peels. Brown colour used to be very popular as it symbolizes earth. We get brown colour by boiling the eggs in oak or alder bark with a bit of birch bark or we can use only the oak bark boiled with salt and vinegar. We can also achieve brown colour with boiled walnut leaves or bark. If you wish to achieve dark-brown or black shade, mix soot with water and add rusty nails. Isn't colouring a little bit like alchemy?
How to Prepare a Decorated Easter Egg (Kraslice)
Since colouring boiled eggs is not usually a challenge, let's have a look at making decorated Easter eggs, called kraslice in Czech. They are shells of blown-out eggs, filled with air, therefore they float on the water. We prepare a kraslice by making a little hole on the wider end of the egg with a sharp object, e.g. small pair of scissors and a larger hole on the other end. Insert a long pointy object into the hole in order to disrupt the membrane inside the egg. Blow into the smaller hole until the entire contents of the egg pours out. Then seal both holes using wax.
Kraslice will not submerge into water, so we have to help it in order to colour it. Place a kraslice into a vessel with a colourant and weigh it down with a wooden cutting board which has to be smaller than the vessel's top so that the board floats on the water surface and keeps the egg submerged.
In order to prevent dark stains forming on the coloured egg, dry the dripping colourant with a napkin and place the egg on a "fakir" pad. Make a fakir pad by hammering some nails through a thin board to make their spikes go out on the other side. Place the eggs on those spikes to dry. When the eggs have dried, highlight their colour by spreading some oil and lard on them and them polish them until they are shiny.
In earlier days, people took more inspiration in nature when colouring eggs. Motives of trees, cereal cobs, flowers, clovers or roosters and hens, fish, snakes, birds, butterflies, foxes and other animals... Social motives were also frequent, such as a bride and a groom or a man with a pipe. Other motives include stars, the sun, snowflakes, horse-shoes, crosses, chains, etc. Nowadays, there are no limits to the imagination when decoratig eggs, that is why we can encounter various patterns and techniques.
For inspiration, let's have a look at several techniques used in the past. For example, people would stick coloured pieces of hay to eggs. First, we need to soak the hay to make it easy to process. Wax was also very popular. Using a pinhead, melted was was applied to the egg into the desired pattern. At the end, eggs are placed into a warm oven to make the wax mildly warmed up and easy to remove. Subsequently, eggs go into a colourant bath and the wax pattern stands out nicely. You can also keep the wax on the eggs, it would make the pattern seems plastic. But was has a propensity to peel off. You can also decorate eggs with stuck textile, lace or colour paper, beads, glitters... You can also colour eggs with tempera paints but you need to put some polish on them at the end. Boiled eggs can also be decorated with a wire technique when you scrape the pattern into the paint, etc. You can also improvise interesting patterns by blowing ink with a straw onto the egg.
We hope we helped you get inspired and we wish you happy decorating!