Berries are special, tricky but special. I didn’t even know this berry existed before I moved to Regina, but it was very much used by the natives here (it was supposedly one of the ingredients of pemmican). It looks a bit like a large blueberry, though it is supposedly more closely related to apple, it tastes a bit more like black currant maybe, and once you cook it, it smells beautifully of cooked sour cherries. And it dyes. This was made from cooked frozen Saskatoon berries with alum.
Shades of blue are just the Saskatoon berry dye, and other shades are over-dyed with other colors. The dye is rather strong and tends to overpower the colors under it, but if you put it into red or yellow after the blue, shades and even different colours can be achieved. The purple egg is sappan wood over sask berries, the green ones are coreopsis and elderflower over sask. The yellow on the light-blue egg in the bottom is elderflower, then the egg was etched with vinegar back to white, and the light blue is a quick dip (maybe 5 min.) of a white egg into sask berry dye.
The question is, how long will the color last? Berry dyes tend to be not very lightfast, so I’ll need to do some experiments and wait and see what happens.
Here are my eggs, all dyed with natural dyes, that I brought as a demo to Pysanky Toronto event last weekend. Photo: Mykola Swarnyk
The 3-day pysanky retreat in Toronto is now over, it’s been a wonderful experience, amazing people, new friendships, exquisite art, ingenious craft, and the atmosphere full of inspiration, which, I’m sure, will last for a while. If you have an interest in decorating eggs, whether traditional, or contemporary, you have to come next year! (Possibly in June). Whether you are new at this, or you have been doing it for years, you will learn a lot.
Now, this is the only egg I managed to do, I just enjoyed too much seeing what others are doing, chatting, learning…
I was asked to do a presentation on natural dyes, and that in itself was a wonderful experience for me. I felt welcomed and very much encouraged, there is a lot of interest and desire to use natural dyes on eggs. I also made brought a set of 6 dyes, and even though natural dyes require much more time than chemical ones, they are very unpredictable, and some of them did not want to cooperate, several people tried them. By next time I think I will figure out a more cooperating set of dyes, and that will probably make a difference.
Gold – coreopsis extract, brown – combination of dried sappan wood dye and logwood extract dye. Chicken egg.
Here’s the egg from yesterday’s workshop. It’s a plain brown chicken egg, and to make these you don’t need anything besides a utility knife. This would work well for people who like to create their own patterns, rather that reproducing the traditional ones.
You could also dye an egg and then scratch off the dye. This would probably easier on the hands, but also more messy.