Flower/Foliage Easter Eggs

Flower Easter Eggs

After our success with the Tie-Dyed Easter Eggs last year, Cait and I decided to make it a tradition, just like our Christmas baking, and do it again this year. Obviously, we would do something different  (the tricky thing about this blog is I can’t ever really do the same thing twice).

Flower Easter Eggs

So after looking at this post and this post on dyeing eggs with natural dyes and using plants to make impressions on them, I knew this was something we needed to try – FOR SCIENCE. However, with Indy now part of the family and requiring our 100% attention at all times to avoid him being eaten by Gren, I knew we didn’t have time to set up natural dyes for the eggs. We would do that next year.

Flower Easter Eggs

I had some Ukrainian style pysanky dye that I purchased when Cait and I had a different plan for science-y Easter eggs (maybe we’ll do that another year as well), so I figured we’d use that instead.

Flower Easter Eggs

So all you need for this is whatever dye you’re going to use, some rubber bands (again, leftover from the Tie-Dye incident), some cheap or old pantyhose (the Pie bought this for me at the Dollarama and said it was an odd experience), and some flowers or plants. The plants that work the best are really floppy ones that are thin and pliable.

Flower Easter Eggs

Use scissors to remove the legs from the pantyhose and cut them into small sections large enough to wrap around whatever eggs you’re using.

Flower Easter Eggs

You can either leave them as a tube or slice them open – I found it was easier to open them up.

Flower Easter Eggs

Although I left the toes as-is.

Flower Easter Eggs

Oh and you need eggs, did I mention that? We’re going to hard-boil them in advance. Don’t worry if your eggs have those pink date stamps on them — that dye will come off in the boiling process.

Flower Easter Eggs

Set all your eggs in a pot of water and bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner and leave it with the lid on for about twenty minutes.

Flower Easter Eggs

Now you can work on your dye. Cait and I picked out four colours to use.

Flower Easter Eggs

I followed the instructions on the packet, using distilled water (leftover from our soap extravaganza) and vinegar to prepare my dyes.

Flower Easter Eggs

Then I had to let them cool. And just a warning, powdered dye gets everywhere, as I learned during my Tintex experiment.

Flower Easter Eggs

Then all you need to do is take a piece of flower or leaf and put it on your egg. This is some cilantro that I’m growing on the kitchen table.

Flower Easter Eggs

If you dip the leaf in water first before you smooth it on it will stick better. Cait and I also suspect that the thin layer of water between the leaf and the egg provides a bit of surface tension or something science-y that will serve as a barrier for the dye later on.

Flower Easter Eggs

Then all you need to do is wrap it tightly in a piece of the pantyhose.

Flower Easter Eggs

The tighter you wrap it the wider the spaces between the strands of nylon and the easier it will be for the dye to get through – also it will press the plant closer to the surface of the egg and be a better dye blocker.

Flower Easter Eggs

Secure the ends with a rubber band.

Flower Easter Eggs

We tried it with some bigger flowers.

Flower Easter Eggs

And some wee small flowers.

Flower Easter Eggs

And just the petals of other flowers.

Flower Easter Eggs

Flower Easter Eggs

Flower Easter Eggs

This is less easy than they make it look on the internet.

Flower Easter Eggs

Into the dye. Leave it for however long you are supposed to according to your dye.

Flower Easter Eggs

We hauled ours out after a while and gave them a rinse – we probably should have let them dry in situ but we were under a time constraint.

Flower Easter Eggs

As you can see the ones with the floppy thin plant materials worked the best. The one on top here is a few sprigs of tender rosemary and we were both quite pleased with how that turned out.

Flower Easter Eggs

All in all, though, this experiment could have gone better. Part of the issue is that we couldn’t really find any nice slender foliage as Ottawa is still covered in snow. This is definitely an activity better suited for a more southern climate.

Flower Easter Eggs

Wee Clay Pot City

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When I saw these wee things over at Say Yes to Hoboken I knew immediately who I had to make them for (but I’m not telling you: it’s a surprise).  Perfect for small plants, especially succulents, I could see these forming a little town on someone’s coffee table.

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I decided to make my own template for my wee town, so that I could get some variety in the buildings I created.  Just make sure, when you are creating your pattern, that you account for the width of the base and the thickness of your sculpting medium.  It’s all about the math, b’ys.

Wee Clay Pots

For this little jobbie you need some Sculpey, a cutting tool (I used a paring knife), a smoothing tool (I used some old manicure tools), and something for rolling out the clay (I used an empty Screech bottle).  You will also need a glass dish for baking your clay, and a work surface that doesn’t stain easily.  Raw Sculpey is pretty toxic, so it’s best to work on waxed paper, parchment, or a silicone mat that you can easily wash.

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It’s a simple thing to do, but it takes some time.  First you need to condition your Sculpey by squishing it a bunch with your hands.  Then you roll it out, and cut out your shapes.

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When you press them together, make a little snake out of extra clay and use it to seal the edges — you want the wee pot to be water tight after all.

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Wee Clay Pots

My first go-round, I made my templates too big and so my little houses weren’t really all that little. You can see in the photo below how it sagged under its own weight.  Fortunate thing about Sculpey is you can just squish it all up and start again, which I did.  My new templates work on a 2″ square, and so I can make about four structures out of one pound of clay.

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I wanted a bit of variety to my city, so with the white Sculpy I made two regular houses, one house with a slanty roof, and a factory.

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Do you see how I raised the floor of the factory on the inside so that the plant would still come out the top?  I know: clever me.

Wee Clay Pots

And the basic house:

Wee Clay Pots

With the terra cotta coloured Sculpey I made a mansion (or row housing), a city hall and a church.  The church is just the small house with a cross instead of a chimney (which baked a bit wonky), and the city hall is just a big house with a circle cut out of the taller roof to signify a town clock.

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Use a smoothing tool to smooth out the edges on the outside, too, and the bottom.

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The next part is easy.  You preheat your oven to 275°F and pop your little structures into your glass dish (I lined mine with parchment, just because I find if the clay is right on the glass surface it tends to cook with a glossy flat edge that doesn’t jibe with the rest of the piece).  Bake for 15 minutes per every 1/4″ thickness of Sculpey.  You don’t want to overbake, but as some of my pieces were obviously thicker or thinner than that (yes, we’ve already gone over how much I suck at Sculpey), I go for a round 20 minutes and that seems to work out just fine.

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Haul those out of the oven and don’t touch them until they’re cool.  Sculpey is designed to shrink less than 2% while baking so you shouldn’t have much trouble with your watertight seal, but you should check anyway.  If it’s not sealed, just add a touch more Sculpey to the hole and bake it for a few minutes.

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I didn’t have enough Sculpey left to make a whole other building, so I made this little round pot.

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And then a wee man.  He’s a magician (hence the top hat and cape) and he’s sitting staring at this wee box, thinking.  So I call it Thinking, Outside the Box.  I gave him to the Pie.

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And there you have it.  I don’t have any succulents on hand, so you’ll have to imagine them in these shots.  But it’s a cute little town, no?

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Greenthumbing Take Two

Happy Spring!

Well, not quite yet.  We had a blizzard last week that set things back a pace or two.  The above photo is one I took last spring around this time.  In fact, all the photos in this post are from my garden last year.

Last spring I had all sorts of plans for my garden.  I was going to create a simplified version of a wildflower garden, and plant things that I could name off the top of my head and that I knew how to care for.  I had all my seeds planted indoors, soaking up the sunshine from the warmth of my kitchen.  I was ready to go.Things did not work out the way I had hoped, however.  It was a cold spring and we had a last-ditch blizzard in late May.Most of my seedlings died because I had ignored the frost warnings.  The rest were eaten by slugs.  Even my marigolds, which I planted as slug repellents.  Who knew?

I did have some successes, however, and you can see the results here.

My failures were many, however, so this year I plan to start afresh: no seedlings, just mature plants, and everything will be simple and hardy enough for shallow, rocky, lead-lined soil.

Stay tuned!