(This post is long because it has a lot of detail and tangents, but I’m sure you know how to look at the pictures and skip the text.)
Easter has always been my favorite holiday, but ever since having three daughters with early spring birthdays, I’ve had barely any energy for Easter crafts. (We won’t even talk about my dismal record of finding time to sew Easter dresses.) So I was thrilled that this year Easter is later in the spring, and sure enough, Friday I found myself stopping at JoAnn for Mod Podge.
It’s probably been ten years since I made the eggs pictured here, but they didn’t have ribbon loop hangers nor a water-resistant top coat. I like to display them in a basket with tissue paper strips used as Easter grass, but if any moisture got on the eggs, the tissue would adhere to them. The eggs would also sometimes stick to the cardboard egg carton I stored them in. (How did the eggs get wet? I live with children.)
I did discover, today, that I could remove the glued-on tissue paper by rubbing a couple of drops of water on it and then scraping it off.
I originally made these eggs using instructions from Martha Stewart, as found here. (These instructions are from 2004, but I made my first batch of eggs a few years before that–in case you’re wondering whether Martha Stewart ever recycles her ideas. It’s very green of her.) Hers are classic instructions that work very well.
Martha’s site gives some good ideas for emptying the eggs, some of which I forgot to use today. I’m definitely going to try a bulb syringe or medicine syringe next time. But since we figured we already share germs in our family, we did still eat the contents of our eggs, scrambled. (Don’t worry, I’ll never serve the products of a family craft project to a dinner guest.)
I like to pierce the top of the egg by tapping gently on a doll-making needle with a hammer:
Learn from my experience: do not allow children, even responsible children (even beautiful children) to help you empty the eggs if you do not feel like scrubbing hardened whites and yokes from every surface. (Or, be smarter than me and make the kids do the scrubbing.)
For the bottom hole I used a nail and widened the hole to about 1/4″. (I used a tweezer to pull away the bits of shell from the membrane so they wouldn’t end up in our dinner.) Since the egg will get covered with paper, it doesn’t really matter if the hole is fairly large.
The finished eggs are quite strong. I had a couple from last year that hadn’t turned out very well so we decided to destroy them, but just dropping them on the floor didn’t harm them. I took a small hammer to one of them, and it broke a neat hole in the side. That reminded me of something I’d seen some time ago and then forgotten about: confetti eggs, called “cascarones” in Mexico.
I tried to find a nice link for cascarones instructions for you, but all the good tutorials I found were at sites with that annoying feature where the page automatically refreshes itself so you can’t just back out of the site. (Hint: go to your browsing history and back up to your original search.) I don’t know why these sites think I’m going to appreciate being trapped, and I’m certainly not going to send you into a trap, so I’ll let you do your own searching. But the basic idea of cascarones is to break a fairly large hole in the top of the egg, empty the egg, rinse it, dye it, fill it with confetti, and glue a square of tissue over the hole. Then you break it over someone’s head.
We didn’t make any cascarones today, but we did clean out over a dozen eggs, and I can’t wait to decorate them with some pretty origami paper I got at a Japanese shop in San Diego last summer.
(I also spent a whole lot of time cleaning out one perfect egg with very small holes in both ends. But now I won’t be able to settle on a project special enough for my one perfect egg.)
Isaac and Mabel decoupaged a couple of eggs with torn pieces of tissue paper. His is the blue one and hers is pink. There are lots more pretty things that could be done with tissue paper. I don’t recommend scrapbooking paper, though, because it’s so heavy. Origami paper is quite thin, which makes it easier to shape onto the egg.
I’d used glossy water-based Mod Podge before and liked it, so I bought the same kind again, but at the store I did see a different brand that was water-resistant, and I wonder if it would work well. I like how the Mod Podge cleans up easily and how it permeates the paper without disintegrating it (as long as you don’t use too much or work too slowly) but if the other type works just as well, it could save the final step of coating the eggs with polyurethane.
Last year I tried decoupaging with gold leaf. It does NOT work. But since then I’ve learned (as you may already know) that for gold leafing, you first coat your project with a medium that dries tacky, then spread the leaf. I’d love to try this with eggs. (Especially goose eggs, and I could make people think I had a giant bean stalk.) I wonder if spray adhesive would work. I wonder whether I have any spray adhesive left somewhere in my sewing room.
The dried decoupaged paper coating is quite strong, so it was easiest to make new holes in the eggs using a Dremel cone-shaped sanding tool. Be careful since it’s easy to slip and scratch the finish. It can help to poke a starting point with the needle.
Next, thread a doll-making needle with 1/8″ ribbon, run it up from the bottom to the top of the egg, then reverse and come back down through the egg, leaving a loop. Don’t cut your ribbon tails too short at this point. I tied a half-knot where I wanted my loop to be, then pulled the ribbon tails down so the knot was against the top of the egg. Then I tied another half-knot knot snugly against the bottom of the egg. It helps to put your needle through the half-knot loop and hold it against the egg as you pull it tight. Then trim the ends of your ribbon and hold them near a flame to seal them so they won’t fray.
When I was trying to take photos with my right hand of things I was holding in my left hand, it made me think of this video of a professional hand model, which is the best non-fiction comedy sketch ever. (If you haven’t seen it yet and don’t enjoy cringing, don’t watch it.)
I like the look of the ribbon ends hanging down on this set of eggs, but I did figure out a way to put a loop on the top of the egg and hide the knot in the egg. (I tried various fussy approaches before this obvious solution popped into my head.) Make your ribbon loop and tie a knot. Take a long piece of thread, thread it through the ribbon loop, double the ends of the thread, and pass both thread ends through your doll-making needle. Now thread the needle through the egg from top to bottom, and pull the thread until it pulls the ribbon loop up through the top hole of the egg, leaving the knot resting against the top hole on the inside.
Once you have loops on your eggs, it’s easy to open a wire hanger and hang the eggs on it while you spray a coat of clear polyurethane. (I had actually bought a spray gloss sold with the other decoupage products, but I couldn’t get the spray mechanism to work. Fortunately Dean had some clear Krylon.) I saw some pretty eggs on Etsy that had ten coats of polyurethane on them, but I’m not that patient and I think one coat will be enough to help the eggs be more water resistant, as well as adding a little shine.
(Here’s a link to the heavily-coated eggs I saw on Etsy. So pretty. Look at the other color sets she made, too. I love her idea of using pysanka techniques for traditional Western-style Easter eggs. It just took me about ten minutes on Etsy to find that listing again, and while I was at it I nearly died (in a good way) from cuteness overload. )
I sprayed mine outside and hung them up to dry.
I have a little white feather tree I could hang these on, but it’s shaped like an evergreen tree, and this year I’d rather use some branches in a vase for my Easter tree. Mysteriously, while he was napping and reading this afternoon, Dean didn’t seem interested in cutting some branches from our trees or driving down to the lake to look for pussy willows for me. My family thinks the eggs look pretty just hanging on a wire hanger on a cupboard handle in the kitchen.
Here’s one last photo:
Daisies! (That’s a Cake Wrecks joke–she doesn’t know the names of most flowers, so she calls them all daisies.)
I think I just spent three hours writing this post. No wonder I haven’t blogged about last Christmas yet. (By the way, if anyone knows how to insert more than one photo at a time on WordPress.com, I’m all ears.)