My mom was a big one for hobbies.  Just a few of the myriad projects we tried our hands at as I was growing up were crewel embroidery, decoupage, cloisonné, acrylic painting, rock tumbling, resin grapes and other resin crafts (enter “klick-klacks”—anyone remember those?), and several different types of crystal growing.  That one came in handy when I needed an 8th grade Science Fair project, since all of my crystals were already well underway when it was assigned.

One year, something inspired my mom to dye Easter eggs the way her family had done it when she was growing up.   I hadn’t thought about this in a long, long time, but the collision of the A-Z Challenge, my Challenge theme, and the approach of Easter jogged the memory.  I know exactly which of my stories this recollection will make it into, too.

We skipped the brightly-colored store-bought dyes and stickers that year; instead, Mom got out a bag of brown onions and started peeling off the dried outer skins.   When she had a whole saucepan full of skins, she covered them with water and brought them to a boil.

“What color will the dye be?” I asked doubtfully.  It just looked brown.  I wasn’t too impressed.

“Brown,” she said.  “The most beautiful brown.”

Brown Easter eggs?  I thought she’d lost her mind.  Why dye Easter eggs brown?  You can buy brown eggs.  I longed for bright pinks and greens and yellows, and robin’s egg blue.

I confess, I wasn’t a very good sport about this one.

While the dye was boiling, we blew a bunch of eggs.  Everyone knows how to blow eggs, right?  Poke a little hole in one end with a needle, and a slightly larger hole in the other end, and blow through the smaller hole until all of the egg has exited through the larger one.  Make the holes large enough that the blowing won’t damage your eardrums, and keep count so you can use the eggs in cooking later, or just make scrambled eggs.

We sat down at the kitchen table with our clean, empty shells and set to work with clear wax crayons, drawing intricate designs and patterns on our eggs.  I know now that an even better method—the traditional Polish method—is to use melted beeswax and apply it with a pin.  Crayons are smeary, and candle wax is hard to see, but beeswax, when it gets hot, turns a dark enough shade to be easily visible as you work, and it leaves a clear, sharp image.

When our designs were finished, we lowered the eggs into the dye and left them there until they had achieved the shade we wanted—a lovely deep reddish brown.

The next step, as with any other Easter eggs, was to remove them from the dye and let them dry completely.

Once they were dry, we held the eggs over a candle to melt the wax and used a paper towel to wipe it all off.  The eggs lay on the table and glowed.  They were beautiful.  I don’t have any photos of ours, but they looked something like these:

Coffee and Vanilla[1]

And they don’t have to be brown—you can use the same wax method with any type of dye.  There are actually several types of Polish Easter eggs, depending on the region:

  • Kraszanki, dyed with plant materials (leaves, flowers, onion skins, beet skins, etc.—what my mom and I did was a combination of this one and the next one)
  • Pisanki , decorated by applying a wax design before dying
  • Skrobanki or Rysowanki, decorated with a design scratched upon their surface
  • Wyklejanki, decorated with yarn, attached with glue
  • Nalepianki, decorated with paper cut-outs or straw glued to them
  • Malowanki, hand painted

You might want to give it a try, whether you have kids or not.  With a little practice, maybe you can make some like these:

pisanki-wydrapywane-2 rabbit skrobanie[2]

That one is a goose egg–that’s the skrobanki style.  The ones below show you can also use color:

PolishEasterEggs 4-17-14[3]


Take a look at these eggs, too—there are so many, I couldn’t possibly post all the photos I would have liked to!

Here’s a Pinterest collection of them for good measure.  I think you’ll agree that they’re just beautiful.

My mom and I never did eggs like that again.  I don’t know why it didn’t become a tradition.  I’m sorry to say I never tried it with my own kids when they were young, either—but I can’t wait to do it with my grandkids!

Happy Easter!