I went to Germany on an exchange trip during my A Levels (I was rubbish at German A Level, I mean really rubbish, I mean extra tuition and I still got a C rubbish). Anyway I went during the Easter holidays and my host family had a beautiful tree in their front garden covered in lovely Easter decorations. Pastel coloured eggs, little rabbits and tiny birds. Ever since then I've wanted my very own Ostereierbaum - don't be impressed - I googled it.
This year the children are already excited about Easter so I thought decorating the house a bit might be fun. I made these dyed eggs with a lot of trial and error - it was a bit of a process - but one I've managed to hone so you don't have to buy numerous dyes, boil empty egg shells and retch over the sink trying to blow out the yolks (yep - that was me).
To make your very own dyed Easter Egg decorations you will need.
Duck eggs - white eggs dye the best, in fact I couldn't get brown hens eggs to take on a nice colour at all. Plus they're all Lion marked and date stamped so you get an ugly great use-by date on your lovely egg. I found duck eggs in Waitrose for £2.45 for a half dozen. A pin A mini screw driver or skewer A straw Food colourings in your choice of colours - I used blue, yellow and pink. I tried using natural dyes and they didn't work. You need the evil colourings with the E-numbers. White vinegar - not white wine vinegar but just plain old white vinegar. Jam jars or similar receptablesGlue gun - I got mine in Hobbycraft and they're currently half price for just £5 - but be quick. Small buttons Embroidery threads or thin ribbon
I started off by blowing my eggs first - but I soon realised that if I did that the egg would then float in the dye. This isn't a massive problem but it did mean I needed to use a tablespoon to hold the egg down and that I had to then blow out excess dye that had seeped into the egg through the holes. So after a while I blew them after dying then which made the dying process much easier and handling the eggs after they'd turned a lovely pastel shade didn't seem to affect their finish at all either.
So the short version is - start with dying. Put 30 drops of your chosen colour into your jam jar. Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar and enough warm water to cover the egg. Give it a good stir to dissolve all the colour. The water will be a pretty intense colour - but don't panic. Carefully lower in your egg, pin with a spoon if necessary and leave to soak up the colour for five minutes or until it's reached the colour you're after.
Do note that you won't be able to get them really dark. I had high hopes of ombre eggs but I just couldn't get a deep enough colour or varied shades, even when I played about with the amount of dye I used.
Put your egg in an egg box to dry and repeat with your remaining eggs. The same dye bath worked for each of my eggs - even after it had gone cold.
I was really pleased with the pastel shades and I like the fact that you can still see the texture of the egg and the little imperfections in the shell.
When they're dry use a mini screw driver or a skewer to make a hole in the pointed top of your egg and the pin to make a smaller hole in the other end. Now, putting my mouth on the egg shell to blow out the egg yolk and white sent my stomach into convulsions and had me retching over the sink - so I found it easier to use a straw. It still grossed me out and the smell of raw egg was quite hideous, but hopefully you're not quite so pathetic as I am.
If you have older children I'd give them this task - they'll probably love it. It's mildly satisfying in a gross kind of way. It takes some patience and obviously the bigger your hole the easier it is - but then huge holes don't look so pretty and make the egg shell weaker. Once you've blown out all the innards give your egg a rinse and leave it to dry in its egg box.
To hang my eggs I used buttons and embroidery threads. For each egg I threaded up a button leaving the ends of the thread free to tie around my tree. The I put a dab of glue from a glue gun on the top of the egg - over my large hole - and stuck the button on top. Then all you need to do is hang your eggs from your tree. Pretty!