Surgeons require less equipment than what my three brothers and I would routinely spread out on the kitchen table to dye Easter eggs when we were children.
Our father was a pharmacist, so we had eyedroppers and tiny tongs and test tubes—and in my brothers' case, the vague hope of causing an explosion. Much of what I remember about the 1970s, in fact, includes the heavy scent of the white vinegar my brothers poured in rather large quantities onto fizzy dye tablets. But the only alarming results were shocking shades of pink and green and blue and purple. Our attempts to vary the color palette with the use of a wax crayon and selective dipping strategies usually ended badly, with muddy brown eggs.
If only we were children today. My brothers and I might have put aside our rubber gloves and safety goggles—yes, they too came from my dad's drugstore—to embrace the joys of natural dyes, not only because of the nuanced pastel shades they create, but also (in my brothers' case) for the fun of mashing blueberries. Here are some recipes for making natural dyes.
Above: For pink eggs, cut up a beet and add to four cups of boiling water. Then stir in two tablespoons of vinegar and cool to room temperature before removing beets (recipe courtesy of BHG). Image via Dreamy Whites.
Above: For yellow eggs, BHG recommends simmering four ounces of chopped carrot tops in 1 and 1/2 cups of water for 15 minutes; strain and add two teaspoons of white vinegar. A lemon-yellow egg (shown here) is dipped in dye from Oh Joy's Neon Dip-Dyed Eggs.
Above: A light marbled effect can be achieved by mixing together grape juice and vinegar, according to Dreamy Whites. For pale blue-gray eggs, BHG suggests mixing one cup of frozen (or mashed fresh) blueberries with one cup of water, bringing the concoction to room temperature, and then straining.