Over the last four days, I made six sample eggs with parts of the designs I had drafted and shared in my last post on the subject. With a slightly limited palette of dye colors (black and purple so far) and an attempt at a home-made coffee-based dye (i.e. coffee), I followed three very simple color schemes and tried a couple different design themes.
I also tried my hand at some vinegar etching, which I had read about recently and seemed like a cool way to add texture to the egg. The two coffee-dyed eggs and the black Xandari egg (front left in the photo above) underwent this treatment, though only the first two attempts were successful.
To etch the egg, you have to soak it in vinegar for a while and then scrub the dissolving shell to slowly remove a few layers. This of course renders the egg weaker and you need to be careful to not leave it in the vinegar too long or brush too hard. After a while, though, you can tell that the portions of shell protected by wax are slightly higher than the rest of the egg. The only problem with this method — apart from the compromise in structural integrity of the egg — is that it destroys the slightly polished natural surface of the egg and leaves a chalkier underlayer that does not respond as well to wax removal.
Since quite a bit of wax is actually added to the egg bit by bit during the whole process, removing the wax is already a pain, and to have it smudge into the chalky shell in a way that is difficult to entirely remove only makes the dewaxing more taxing. It’s about as frustrating as trying to keep a perfectly straight line on a curved elliptical surface. We’ll see if the engraving/embossing is worth it or not. With the little etching that I accomplished this time around, you can’t even really tell that the pattern is raised. In this photo, the purple eggs are normal and the coffee-toned ones were etched.
One vinegary success from this round of pysanky crafting was the quick wash of one of the black eggs in vinegar. After some careful wiping, the black dye rubbed off in certain areas and the egg’s micro-pockmarked surface allowed for different gradients of black and gray to form, making for a nice effect.