Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fun With Plant Dyes

While sitting around the old homestead we decided to have some fun with plants. Easter had just passed and we got inspired to dye eggs. I took the kids out for a walk to gather ferns and other delicate leaves with which to make prints on the eggs. In three different pots we boiled yellow onion skins (reddish brown), beets (pink), and calendula flowers with powdered tumeric root (yellow). Lily added a dash of apple cider vinegar to each pot to help set the dye. We placed the leaf or leaves on our eggs and wrapped them tightly in gauze strips fastened with rubber bands. We hard boiled them in the dye for 10-15 minutes. It was fun to unwrap them and see what happened!

The onion skins were by far the most impressive with a gorgeous deep mottled reddish-brown. The calendula and tumeric gave a pale yellow. The beet dye reacted beautifully with the maple leaf but did not give much color to the egg.



The strips of gauze also got dyed so Lily helped the kids braid necklaces and bracelets out of them. The yellow was amazingly vibrant. The reddish-brown came out peach colored and the pink did not dye the fabric at all.

Then.... we HAD to make playdoh! Lily had the idea to use the beet water as the water in the playdoh recipe. So we did and WOW did it work! We made a second batch and I had the kids knead in tumeric for yellow after it was ready to work. Here is what one of them made.

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