Traditional Easter eggs are full of color and rich with detail. Decorating eggs is an ancient art in many cultures and spans many faiths. The intricate hand painted designs of the Bucovina and Ukrainian Easter eggs (pysanky) and the Hanácké kraslice from the Czech region of Haná are just a few examples of the well known Easter egg decorating traditions from around the world.My first hurdle is usually getting my kids past their initial “I don’t know what to make” phase. They always need a little boost to get their own creativity flowing. A good place to start is to look on the internet for ideas for Easter eggs. Take a look at the incredible cross-stitched eggs (shown at left) by Inna Forostyuk! Now, I am an avid cross-stitcher with over 15 years experience, but I don’t think I’m up to the challenge of cross stitching an egg quite yet!
I’m not suggesting that these are the kind of Easter eggs you should be making with your school age children, but they are certainly awe inspiring. These incredible works of art can also inspire your child’s (or your own) creativity with the use of color and patterns.
Coloring Easter eggs with children can be a challenge as they are still developing their skills. I have also found that much like at meal times when their eyes are bigger than their stomachs, they often bite off more than they can chew with their artwork plans. While seeing these beautiful creations does give them grand ideas, you can temper that so that it doesn’t lead to big disappointment. Just explain that they may not be able to create Easter eggs with the same detail, but they can get ideas for color combinations and more simplistic versions of the designs.
My kids just love the idea of using wax pencils to draw a design on the egg and then dip it into the Easter egg dye. Unfortunately, we have had incredibly poor results with these. You need to be able to follow your own lines to ensure that you don’t end up with a disjointed design or pattern. It is also important to maintain consistent pressure when applying the wax so that the dyes don’t bleed through in places. Both of these skills can be difficult for kids to master. Having tried to teach the little ones, when I look at the Romanian Easter eggs (below, right), whether they are etched right on to the egg’s shell or designed using hot wax, I truly appreciate the skill the artisans have clearly mastered.I’d also like to mention something that has become a concern in recent years. They have changed the dyes in many of the popular egg coloring kits for many reasons that I won’t go in to. Unfortunately, even though they have you add ingredients to the dye cups to make the dye “permanent”, it isn’t. We’ve tried several kits and still find that the dye WILL rub off and quite easily. Where is the Easter bunny going to hide the easter eggs? If you are doing a traditional Easter Egg Hunt outdoors, it may not matter too much if the decorations come off the eggs a little. However, you probably don’t want the “dye” to rub off on your carpet or furniture. Just keep this in mind when choosing your decorating materials.
Perhaps the most popular method for kids is an Easter egg coloring kit, such as the ones from PAAS®. Other kid friendly decorating methods that we have used for decorating Easter eggs include stickers, tattoos, crayons and markers. Although, washable markers can also rub off when and where you don’t want them to.
Another decorating method that has many advantages is to use egg wraps. These are basically pre-printed sleeves made out of a shrink-wrap material. You simply slide the sleeve over the egg and dip it into boiling water. It shrinks over the egg in a matter of seconds and you’re done! We don’t use these every year, but among the more attractive benefits of this method are
- no mess
- very fast
- transfer proof
- beautiful designs
If you are pressed for time or you want the kids to get great results without the frustration, this is the way to go. I remember one year that my kids were so convinced that they couldn’t make nice eggs, I decided that it wasn’t worth having them in tears. Self-fulfilling prophecy, I am sure, but sometimes you just have to let it go. There are times when you can tell that the kids are just not in the right mindset to accept your encouragement. So, we went with egg wraps and they were very pleased with the result. To them, it didn’t matter how they got there because they made eggs that THEY thought were beautiful, not just eggs that Mom thought were beautiful.Egg wraps can be hard to find sometimes, but I’ve gotten them in little kits, I believe also from PAAS®. They had little characters on them like chicks and bunnies and some flowers. More recently, I got some from Monastery Greetings. They have Ukrainian Pysanky designs, Polish, Slovak & Hungarian Designs and Slavic Pin Art Designs. At the time, they sold them in packs of 12 sleeves for $3.95, which I didn’t think was a bad price.
Regardless of the decorating method, we always have some supplies leftover. I keep a box just for Easter egg decorating supplies where I put all the leftover things from whatever we use to decorate the eggs that year. Especially those little wire dippers that come in the kits. You can always use a spoon, but the dippers seem to allow a more uniform coloring with the dye since there is so little covering the surface of the egg. I keep all of the clear wax pencils and any other egg marking tools. This really helps when you have several people decorating eggs so that everyone will be able to keep working rather than waiting around for the tools to be freed up. I bring those out every year and the kids have plenty to choose from to keep them happy and creating.
Results aside, decorating Easter eggs with the kids is a fun project and a great opportunity for quality family time. We help them hone their skills and encourage them to try out their ideas in an atmosphere without criticism. We try to guide them towards techniques that will achieve the look they are hoping for so that they aren’t completely disappointed, but this is all a part of the learning process. Every year they get better and seem to enjoy the challenge, remembering what they learned the year before. I love to hear them talk about how they plan to solve their pitfalls from years past.
So, check out some of these Easter egg decorating ideas and methods and start your own tradition. If you have other methods that you use, add a comment to tell us about it. Happy Easter wishes to you and your little egg decorators! We’d love to see your kids’ creations, so if you have pics, send them!