How to Make Natural Dye for Painting and Eggs

 

Today I’m sharing my favorite recipes for making homemade DIY all-natural dye for painting and egg decorating. While these dyes take a bit more time than their store-bought cousins, they are easy to make and definitely worth a try.

Eggs colored with natural dye

While I have nothing against store-bought egg dye, we’ve been making our own egg dyes for a few years and there are a few benefits to making natural dye:

You’ll have the satisfaction of making your own art material

The dyes are 100% non-toxic and are, therefore, food-safe. You can eat those eggs with peace of mind.

Making your own dye teaches children to be resourceful. You don’t have to go to the art store for paint when you can make your own from things you have in the fridge.

How to cook natural dye for Easter Eggs and Painting

I’ll share five recipes below, and will refer to these as “egg dyes,” but understand that these can also be used as watercolor paint. We’ll add a bit of vinegar to each recipe. Vinegar will act as a mordant, which means that it will help the dye stick to the paper or egg, and keep it from fading quickly.

How to cook natural dye for Easter Eggs and Painting

How to make natural dyes from beets, red cabbage, turmeric, blueberries, and annatto seeds.

Red Egg Dye

3 Beets, roughly chopped

4 cups of water

2 tablespoons vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the dye into a container.

Bright Yellow Egg Dye

2 tablespoons Turmeric (spice commonly used in Indian cooking)

3 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the dye into a container. This dye will be a bit pasty, as it retains some of the thickness of the spice.

Light Yellow Egg Dye

3 tablespoons Annatto seeds (I find these at Penzey’s)

3 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the dye into a container.

Note: Annatto seeds temporarily stained my pot. It did not change the flavor of food cooked in the pot and the stain cleaned away after four cleanings. 

Lavender Egg Dye

1 cup Blueberries

6 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the dye into a container through a sieve. Press the berries to pull as much juice out as possible.

Blue Egg Dye

1/2 Red Cabbage, roughly chopped

6 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

1/2+ teaspoon Baking Soda

Bring the first three ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the dye into a container. If your dye is not blue, as it is in this post, you can add baking soda to the dye and it will change color from purple to blue. Add more baking soda to intensify the color.

Science behind this color change: Red cabbage contains anthocyanin, a pigment that will appear red, purple, or blue depending on the pH. When you add acid, such as lemon juice, to an anthocyanin, it will become pink. And when you add a base like baking soda it turns blue!

How to cook natural dye for Easter Eggs and Painting

Hot or cool, your dyes are now ready for eggs! These dyes take a bit of time to brighten up an egg – give yourself between five and 20 minutes, depending on the intensity of color that you’d like to achieve.

Experiment with Egg Dyes!

Try mixing colors: How can you get orange dye? Will it work to dip the egg in yellow first, and then in red. Or vice versa?

Fill shallow bowls with a small amount of the dye. Dip on side in red, then another side in blue, and so on.

Draw on the egg with white crayon. This will act as a resist. Then dip the egg in dye.

Cover the egg with stickers. Dip in dye. Dry and remove stickers.

Kids Painting with Natural Dye

Paint with Natural Dye

And finally, you can paint with this dye just as you would watercolors. Yesterday I took our dyes to my daughter’s class. We drew on watercolor paper with Sharpie markers (affiliate) and then painted over it with the natural dye. I also took time to ask the children if they wanted to smell the dyes, and there were lots of scrunched up faces!

Natural Dyes on Bay Area People

I was recently invited to talk about how to make natural dyes on Fox 2 KTVU’s Bay Area People with Lisa Yokota. It was such a fun experience. Welcome to viewers who caught the episode this weekend! If you want to see me try not to look too foolish on TV, simply click on this image…

lisa yokota and rachelle doorley

More Homemade Paint Recipes

This post, Our Favorite Homemade Paint Recipes, contains seven favorite recipes. You don’t want to miss these easy, healthy recipes.

More Egg Dying, Decorating, and Science Ideas

Three Easy Tricks for Blown Out Eggs

Egg Geodes Science Experiment

How to Make a Floating Egg

How to Walk on Raw Eggs. Really.

60 Egg Activities for Kids

How to make natural dyes from beets, red cabbage, turmeric, blueberries, and annatto seeds.

 

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