What is Egg Decorating?

Sheri Cyprus

Egg decorating is the craft of adding color or texture to eggshells. In some cases, such as during the Easter holiday, hardboiled eggs are decorated. If eaten immediately or properly refrigerated, the cooked insides of the eggs are then edible once the decorated shells are removed. In other egg decoration projects, the raw inner part of the eggs is removed. This is done by mouth or with a special hand tool so that the thin, rather fragile shell can be used for egg decorating with dyes, paints or other craft materials.

Eggs are often colored and decorated during Easter.
Eggs are often colored and decorated during Easter.

Some crafters prefer to decorate the raw egg first and then hollow it out so that they have a stronger surface with which to work. To remove the yolk and white from raw eggs by mouth, air is blown through holes pierced on both ends of an egg. A sewing needle can be used to make the holes as well as stir the raw egg materials inside since a broken yolk will be easier to extract. Some egg decorating crafters prefer to straighten out a paper clip to reach deeper into the raw egg for stirring. If the pierced holes are too small, hollowing out the eggs will be difficult; the sewing needle can then be used to gently chip at the egg shell to widen each hole.

Coloring Easter eggs is a favorite tradition of children everywhere.
Coloring Easter eggs is a favorite tradition of children everywhere.

Hand tools used for piercing and hollowing out eggs for decorating are called egg blowers. An egg blower has a rubber or plastic accordion style pump with a tube attached that is connected to a metal needle. After the needle is used to pierce the egg, the pump is squeezed by hand to force the raw egg matter out of the pierced holes. Egg blowers are often sold by companies that sell Ukrainian egg decorating kits.

Ukrainian decorated eggs are a traditional craft from Ukraine; they are called pysanky. Pysanky eggs are wonderfully detailed in ornate symmetrical patterns. Dye baths and melted beeswax are used to get an artistic looking result. Many different colors and shades of each color are used to give Ukrainian eggs a sophisticated look. Reds, greens, yellows, blues and oranges are the colors used most often in Ukrainian egg decorating; black is added for interest and outlining.

Basic decorated eggs can be created with craft paints, glue and a few accessories. Feathers, stick-on eyes and felt pieces are fun features for children's egg decorating projects. Food coloring and vinegar are typically used to color hardboiled cooked eggs during the Easter holiday. The amounts of vinegar and color to use for Easter egg decorating are usually included on packages of food coloring.

Food coloring and vinegar are used in dyeing eggs.
Food coloring and vinegar are used in dyeing eggs.

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Discussion Comments

I have been experimenting with different egg decorating techniques for the last decade or so. Lots of people know about the Ukrainian style but egg decorating has appeared in cultures around the world.

It is actually an ancient and storied tradition in China. They have amazingly decorated eggs that would be used in religious rituals and as part of court ceremonies.


My mother was always fascinated by Ukrainian egg decorating and she had a small collection that she displayed proudly in our home. She saw a few of the eggs as part of a tour when she was a little girl and fell in love with the intricately decorated eggs.

I must have dyed fifty eggs for Easter this year. We were going to have a hunt for the kids in our backyard and one dozen turned into two turned into a few more. The kids had a lot of fun but my fingertips were dyed pink and green for days afterwards
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