|Resist dyed leaf patterns.|
First I explained about the connection with Spring and Easter, or rather let the kids think about why we were celebrating eggs, bunnies, chicks, and flowers at Autumn time! Yes, of course I mentioned the other celebration of Jesus as well, but in passing. This was about dyeing eggs, and it is a secular school.
And the kids did come up with the answer; we're on the other side of the world of where these traditions started! So I said, we are going to make Autumn-Leaves Easter Eggs.
|New Zealand Primary school classroom.|
That big white board is an "interactive white board" on which you can bring up the internet, or computer programmes, with which you can use an electronic pen to write or draw on the board, print it out, or even send to another computer in the school. Nearly all our senior classes in our school are completely "technology classrooms", in which each child does their work on their individual laptops, then sends their work to the teacher. She/he can also monitor their work in their files, and checks if the kids access things they shouldn't. It seems to keep the kids' attention quite well!
Anyway, back to the eggs...
|Simmering red cabbage.|
So I simmered (in a stainless steel pot, since iron or aluminium can change the colour) half a red cabbage with salt (making it alkaline) and the other half with a dash of white vinegar (making it acid), just under boiling point for half an hour. With all the windows open...
Then drained the cabbage out, reserving the intensely coloured dye-water.
|Red and brown onion skins.|
|Cheese-cloth (with small leaves inserted) wrapped hardboiled eggs .|
I picked a tray of small leaved plant material from my garden, like maiden hair ferns and young fern fronds, young ivy leaves, and clover.
I cut lots of squares of cotton cheesecloth and some white yarn to wrap the eggs into
O.K. the eggs themselves.... I thought that would be easy, right? Get some white eggs from the shop, as you can't make brown eggs blue or pink.
By George! I had some serious problems there!! No white eggs to be found in either Napier or Hastings supermarkets, Farmers' Markets, or egg Farms..... Incredible!
The lady at an egg farm told me that they can't actually buy the hens anymore that lay white eggs. And that people think that brown eggs are healthier looking, you know like a sun tan, or like brown bread versus white bread.
That's mono-culture farming for you...
Did you know that some type of hens lay blueish eggs, or speckled?
Anyway she had these trays of commercial eggs, these are usually bought by baking companies, the eggs are irregular sized, have bumps or spots, are thin, or very pale.
So we found 30 of the palest brown eggs, it was very kind of her to help me. But some did crack during the hardboiling. They would simply have to do...
I hard boiled them, for about 5 minutes. That way they were still pleasantly edible for the kids. And not so breakable.
I added a drop of dishwash liquid to the water to remove any chicken-bum grease, that might prevent the dye penetrating the shell.
|The hard boiled eggs were left overnight in the dyes.|
And if they did manage to totally knot up their egg, the cheesecloth was loose. For the resist method to work, the leaves need to lie tightly against the egg while dyeing.
Luckily there were 3 adults in the room.
We also wrote their initials on the egg with a white crayon.
Now they got to choose which dye pot their egg was going to soak overnight in, but I warned them that their egg would be a different colour then what they could see...
Since I wasn't sure of the outcome I wasn't going to promise them a particular colour, and it was excitingly mysterious...
|After cutting off the wraps and drying the eggs.|
And the purple-pink dye made from the red-cabbage-with-vinegar went a more lavender hue, that could probably have done with another dash of white vinegar to go towards pink.
Science/ Art/ Culture experiment successfully completed!