Decorating eggs is a custom that dates back before what we know as Easter was ever celebrated. Eggs are a symbol of spring, renewal, and fertility for many cultures. And sometimes they are works of art.
1. Pysanky Eggs
Pysanky eggs are an example of Ukrainian folk art. They are decorated in nature motifs using a batik method. The designs are drawn in negative with wax, and colors are built up using successive dye immersions. The wax design is changed as different colors of dye are used. The results can be quite elaborate. Here's a tutorial on making Pysanky eggs. (image credit: Luba Petrusha)
2. Carved Emu Eggs
Emu eggs can be carved to reveal layers of color. The eggs have shells that are dark on the outside, and have successively lighter layers inside. Gary LeMaster carves intricate scenes on emu eggs, like this panda. There are several different methods of carving reliefs on emu eggs; here are instructions for one.
More beautiful eggs, after the jump.
3. FabergÃ© Eggs
In 1885, Tsar Alexander II of Russia commissioned Jeweler Carl FabergÃ© to produce an Easter egg as a special surprise for his wife. The gold and jewel-encrusted egg opened to reveal layers of golden figures, each inside another, like matryoshka nesting dolls. Empress Maria was so delighted with the gift that the Tsar wanted another egg every year. Tsar Nicholas II continued the tradition after his father died. FabergÃ© produced beautiful eggs until the revolution in 1917. There were only 69 FabergÃ© eggs made, fifty of which went to the Tsar's family. 61 of the eggs are accounted for today. You can find pictures and information on individual eggs at Mieks FabergÃ© Eggs.
People often use the term "FabergÃ© egg" to refer to reproductions or FabergÃ©-style eggs. Although FabergÃ© didn't use real eggs, and you probably can't use gold and gemstones in yours, you can make an elaborate hinged box out of an egg, or decorate them with inexpensive ribbons and beads.
4. Lace Carved Eggs
These goose eggs were hand carved by Jerry Brazil of the Texas Egg Gallery. The lacy effect highlights the fragility of an empty eggshell. Here's how to get started carving eggs. They warn you from the start, you'll go through a lot of eggs to learn!
5. Natural Dyes
The simplest way to dye eggs at home is to soak your hard-boiled eggs in a combination of hot water, vinegar, and food coloring. You can be more elaborate if you like. A variation on this method is to use natural dyes in place of food coloring. Beets will make your eggs pink, tumeric will turn them yellow, and somehow red cabbage will dye them blue. The Herb Society of America has instructions.
6. Marble Eggs
If you want to serve decorated eggs for dinner, try making tea infused marble eggs. This method infuses the color under the shell, using consumable and possibly delicious dyes.
Here are some other tutorials in techniques for decorating eggs. As for my family, we will probably dye a few eggs using the simple food coloring method. But if history is a predictor, we'll eat most of them before they cool off!