Russian Style Easter Eggs

Last week I was invited to decorate Easter eggs the Russian way. I pictured the multi-colored, intricately painted eggs that are famous the world over. However, I was thinking of Ukrainian Easter eggs instead of Russian.

When I arrived at the egg painting session, I was actually relieved to find the Russian Easter eggs have simpler designs. They are just as beautiful, but the ones we worked with were all the same basic color - brown with lighter decorations.

I found out the secret of the coloring was in the process of cooking the eggs. Before the eggs were cooked, masking tape was placed on the eggs where the color was to be lighter - either in a square, round, or even cross shape. A good example can be seen in the basket of eggs above, where the center egg has the cross shape. Then the eggs are cooked, starting in cold water as usual, with onion peels added to the water. Yellow onion skins were used that day.

The longer the eggs cook in the onion skin water, the darker the eggs are at the end. On the left, the darker eggs were from different batches than the lighter ones. Now that you know this easy secret, you can make Russian Easter eggs any time.

After the eggs are cooled, the decorating begins. If you want any part of the dark egg in a lighter color, use sandpaper to scuff off the darker brown color. This can be done either in a large area or tiny spots around the egg. The hard-boiled eggs are more sturdy than before, but they are still fragile, so be careful how hard you rub the sandpaper on the egg.

Then you decorate the eggs any way that you want with sharpie pens. Using gold, white and black colors, we were urged to copy the eggs that were already painted if we didn't have our own ideas. Drawing patterns on the eggs is a very time-consuming and intricate task. The fact that the eggs aren't totally smooth makes the job harder.

With much practice, I managed to come up with a couple ideas to make my own eggs. You can see the results in the picture to the left.

I found out that these decorated eggs can be saved for years. In fact, some of the eggs, that were for patterns, were so old that they rattled when they were shaken. The yolk was dried out enough to sound like a marble inside the egg. However, our instructor did warn us that if the egg gets several years old, it can burst. You don't want to be in the same room when that happens because of the horrid smell.

Let me know if you decide to try this craft yourself before Easter arrives. I'd like to see your talent for myself.


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