By Natalia Hook
Coloring eggs is fun for kids and adults alike, but alas, our hardboiled creations are inevitably deviled and devoured. If an Easter celebration is the only reason you’ve ever thought about decorative eggs, or if you’ve never thought about them at all, try hatching this idea: a bright and beautiful bowl of painted eggs that aren’t for eating. You can make lovely spring decorations in whatever palette you dream up with some basic supplies, this simple guide, and a healthy pinch of creativity.
I learned how to hand paint eggs from my mom (who is far craftier and artistically talented than I am). Luckily, she had plenty of ideas that were simple enough for beginners but still culminated in stunning results. If you’re a gifted painter, that’s fantastic. But even if you’re not, there’s plenty you can do at any skill level, whether your DIY egg ornaments will be for Easter or seasonal spring home décor. Are you ready to get crackin’? Egg-cellent!
- Raw eggs
- Straight pin
- Bamboo skewer
- Drinking straw
- Paint (acrylic, enamel, or oil)
- Bowl and water cup
- Table protection (newspapers, dishtowels, placemats, etc.)
Photos by Natalia Hook
- Plaster or spackle
- Decorative elements (doilies, ribbon, appliqués, craft paper, feathers, etc.)
- White glue
- Delicate surface masking tape or FrogTape
Once you’ve gathered your materials, the next step is preparing your eggs for painting. This means emptying the contents without cracking the shells, which can be a little tricky. Successfully making blown egg ornaments requires careful handling and a little bit of patience, so take a deep breath, relax, and follow these six steps:
1. Holding the egg upright with the “pointier” side on top, use the straight pin to chip a small hole in the tip of the egg. Gently twist the straight pin around in the hole to enlarge it.
2. Turn the egg over and repeat step 1 on the wider end of the egg.
3. Poke the bamboo skewer through the hole at the wider end (bottom) of the egg and “stir” the insides, breaking up the yolk.
4. Hold the egg over a bowl, and place one end of the drinking straw over the hole in the top end of the egg. Blow gently through the straw until the contents of the egg have been completely drained through the bottom hole. Hint: Cut the straw in half to make it easier to blow out the egg’s contents.
5. Rinse the inside of the eggshell by holding it under the running tap, and then shake it gently to drain it.
6. Allow egg to airdry for several hours using the egg carton or a dish rack.
Alternative: If you prefer a less-fragile finished product, or plan on doing this project with young children, you can substitute unfinished wooden eggs from A.C. Moore’s, Michael’s, or another craft store. Don’t worry, I won’t tell!
Simple Hand-Painted Eggs
The most basic painted egg, of course, is a single solid color. Although simple, this design still looks lovely, especially with glossy enamel paint. For multicolored hand-painted egg ornaments, try a simple combination of colors. Select two to four paint colors that you think will work well together. Use the bamboo skewer to hold and rotate your egg as you use lengthwise strokes to apply the first of your color choices to the entire surface. If this first coat looks patchy, allow it to dry completely, and then apply a second coat.
Start adding your second color when the final coat of the first color is still wet. This allows the colors to blend. Use just a little bit of paint on the brush for your second color, re-dipping as needed to create a streaked effect. Don’t overbrush the paint. You want to keep the colors clean. Repeat with any remaining colors, one at a time. If using a metallic tone, save it for the last or second to last color so its subtle qualities aren’t lost. After the last color has been applied and dried, smear a dot of plaster or spackle on each pinhole to fill it in if you like. Follow that with a spot of paint over the plaster, and you’re done. Easy, right?
From here, the many variations are up to you. Stippled eggs, stripes or polka dots… Whatever you want to try. And don’t sell yourself short! If you have an idea, give it a shot. The worst-case scenario is you botch a paint job. Should that happen, just let the paint dry, and then paint over it with a fresh coat.
Specialty Egg Ideas
If you’re looking for fancy egg ideas, try using a paper doily as a pattern stencil. This works best with a stenciling paintbrush, which has short, stiff bristles designed for tapping paint onto a surface with minimal bleeding. Appliques are an eye-catching idea. Just glue them on with fabric glue or white glue after your paint is dry. Want to do chevrons or other crisp lines? FrogTape or masking tape for delicate surfaces can be used to create sharp edges. Just trim and stick the tape on your egg in the desired pattern, paint it (use two coats if the first coat looks splotchy), allow the paint to dry, and then remove the tape.
For hanging egg ornaments, run a ribbon through the blowholes at both ends. Use a toothpick to feed the ribbon through, and then tie a knot at the bottom of the egg and make a bow or slipknot at the narrow end for hanging. For a rustic look, use twine instead of ribbon. For a dressy look, try a tassel. And kids will love transforming painted eggs into “critters” with craft paper and feathers. Got painting skills? Try experimenting with landscape designs, floral patterns, or animal likenesses on eggs.
Many cultures include some form of egg decoration in their traditional art forms. You can create your own homage to traditional Chinese and Japanese hand-painted eggs or lacquered Russian pysanky eggs. Looking for a bigger canvas for your creations? Wooden eggs can be purchased in whatever size your paintbrush desires from online vendors if not in your local craft store. If you’re determined to you’re your eggs authentic, duck and goose eggs are significantly bigger than chicken eggs and can be found in select specialty grocery stores and at some farm stands.
Displaying Your Egg Ornaments
If you have strung your eggs on ribbon or twine, some great places to hang them include chandeliers, mantels, and floral arrangements. Single eggs can be showcased on egg stands or nestled in small bowls or baskets.
For a large grouping of eggs, a larger bowl or basket makes a wonderful display that says, “Spring is here!” Be sure to incorporate a soft element such as craft moss or fabric into your display to keep the eggs well-cushioned and protected. Then just stand back and admire your handiwork.
Storing Egg Ornaments
Unsurprisingly, the best way to store hand-painted eggshell ornaments is in the very same cartons you originally purchased the eggs in. Multiple cartons can be stacked inside a cardboard box, with packing paper stuffed securely into empty spaces to prevent the cartons from shifting. If you don’t have the egg cartons, wrap each individual egg in several layers of tissue paper. (Wrinkled gift wrap leftovers work great.) Use small boxes of packing peanuts or paper shreds to store the eggs, making sure that there are several inches of protective padding separating them from one another. Obviously, wooden eggs don’t require the same degree of protection, but they should still be wrapped and kept from bumping against each other to prevent chips.
Hand-painted eggs ornaments are fun and fairly easy to make, and they make a wonderfully showy seasonal or holiday display. They’re a terrific project for the family or a group of friends. In fact, they may be my favorite kind of egg… except for the chocolate kind!