Using Stencils to Make Collagraphs
What to do with those soggy tea bags stashed in your purse (or Tea Bag Art in Just 4 Easy Steps With Stencils)

My Almost Dirty Dozen


Easter Eggs made with StencilGirl stencils designed by Gwen Lafleur, contact paper, masking fluid, and natural dyes.

Hi Everyone!  Thanks for tuning into another post for Gwen Lafleur's Artist Tribe.  

The weatherperson is forecasting another Nor'easter here in Connecticut today.  Winter sure is putting up a fight this year.  But when we turned the clocks back the other night, my drive home from work became much brighter; proof that Winter's days are truly numbered.  Spring is out there, playing Peek-a-Boo with us just around the corner and I'm anxiously awaiting it.  Last week I started prepping for it's arrival with some hard-core pinning of Dyed Egg pics to my Dirty Dozen Pinterest board followed by extensive blog reading.  And now I'm pumped!

I found that I was particularly enamored with natural dye eggs. Their saturated hues make me happy; reminding me of art deco era tiles that I'd love to fill my house with.  But those who know me know that I've never been one to follow directions. I'm always on the hunt for new ways to use my stencils, to make my art supplies do double duty, and to add my own style to projects.  So I began thinking about ways of making a "Dirty Dozen" in my own style to wash away the last remnants of my winter doldrums.

In today's post I'll show you some of the tricks I learned in the process; how I trimmed my stencil designs to fit the curve of an egg; and how I added some unconventional art supplies, (contact paper and masking fluid) to my repertoire of egg decorating techniques.

Warning: I really wanted my eggs to last forever.  (OK, maybe not forever, but I do actually have some Pisanki eggs that were given to my Grandfather in the 1950's.  And in my book that qualifies as forever in egg years.)  So that means that there will be some serious egg blowing going on in this post.  

Materials and Supplies 

  • Eggs - jumbo white, (I used a dozen.  Tip: The eggs will be easier to blow if they are at room temperature.  Placing them in a bowl of hot facet water will speed top the process.)
  • Sharp needle,
  • Wide rubber band,
  • Needle Point Detail Tool, (I added the link in case you're not familiar with this tool.  You can usually find them in the pottery and clay section of most craft stores.),
  • Large pot, 
  • Strainer,
  • Glass or other non-porous containers, (one for each color - a 4 cup glass measuring cup works perfectly),
  • Metal cooking utensils or other improvised implements to "trap" the blown eggs under the dye bath,
  • Stencils (The stencils I used are listed under the Egg Headshot Pics)
  • Contact paper — clear,
  • Black permanent marker (I used a Sharpie);
  • Sharp X-Acto knife and/or scissors,
  • Masking fluid
  • Cotton swabs, (I used the sobs with pointed tips),
  • Micron Pen (I used a .01). 


Recipes for Dye Baths:

  • Yellow Dye

    6 Tablespoon Turmeric,
    1 Tablespoon White Vinegar,
    4 Cups Water

    Mix 4 cups of hot water, the Turmeric, and the vinegar in a container.  (Since Turmeric will stain anything porous, I made my bath in a glass 4 cup measuring cup.  The shape of the glass also made it easier to trap the blown eggs in the dying process.)   Stir the mixture until the Turmeric is dissolved.


A yellow natural dye bath is made by dissolving turmeric in white vinegar and water.
  • Blue Dye 

Red Cabbage, 1 head roughly chopped,
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar,
4 Cups Water

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil on the stove.  Add the White Vinegar and the chopped Red Cabbage.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain the liquid into a glass or other nonporous container.  (One would think that red cabbage would make a red dye but one would be wrong...) 

A blue natural dye bath is made by simmering red cabbage, white vinegar and water. 

After the natural dyes were made, I began prepping the eggs.  

I pierced the top and the bottom of each shell with a sharp needle. (Tip: Apparently, this step proved to be challenging for many bloggers whose needles slipped; pricking fingers instead of piercing shells.  This dilemma was easily overcome by wrapping a wide rubber band around the end of the needle before piercing the shell.)

Wrap a wide rubber band around the end of the needle to keep it from slipping when you pierce the shell

Then I inserted my Needle Point Detail Tool into each hole and slowly widened the openings by moving it in a circular motion.  I made the bottom holes slightly larger than the tops.  Then I wiggled the tool inside of the egg to scramble it; covered both holes with my thumb and forefinger; and then lightly shook the egg to ensure that everything was broken up inside.

I used a Needle Point Detail Tool to widen the holes at either end of the egg.

Hopefully you experienced the joys of egg blowing during your childhood since my husband was laughing so hard he forgot to take pics.  (Probably an auspicious thing for me...)  Suffice it to say that this step would make an "ieggcellent" party game.   If you've never had the pleasure, let me try to explain how its done.  Whilst hovering over a small bowl, one wraps their lips over the smallest of the two holes in the egg and blows into it with enough force to transform his face into that of a red puffer fish until he is rewarded with the contents of the egg spilling forth from the hole at the bottom of the shell. (Yeah, it's probably a really good things that there are no pictures of this :) 

It took a while from me to clean out the first egg, ( all of that laughing probably had something to do with it) but once I got the hang of it I became a regular egg blowing factory.  I'm proud to report that there was only one casualty during this stage.  As a result, the name of this post changed from My Dirty Dozen to My Almost Dirty Dozen.

My first casualty. I could no longer call my post "The Dirty Dozen"

I washed out the inside of each egg by covering up the small hole with n=my finger and then filling the larger hole with water from the faucet.  Then I covered both holes with my thumb and forefinger, shook the egg up, and then blew the tap water out of the shell. I repeated this process until the water coming out ran clear.   Then I put the shells back in their egg carton to dry.

I used Gwen's Ornamental Petal Screen and Decorative Folk Flower Stencil to add pattern on this egg.  I used a sharpie to trace the design elements onto contact paper with a Sharpie.  I didn't try to capture any fine details, focusing on just the basic shapes.  Then I cut them out with an X-Acto Knife for the interior details and scissors for the rest.  The Petal Screen element was cut into four sections so that the design be easier to apply to the egg in the next step.   The leaves in the design were traced from Gwen's Decorative Folk Flower Stencil.  

I traced my design elements from Gwen Lafleur's Ornamental Petals Screen and Decorative Folk Flower Stencil onto contact paper and then cut them out. 

I removed the backing for the first petal and began to apply it to the egg, starting at the bottom.  It quickly became apparent that the shape needed to be fitted to conform to the curve of the egg.  To do this I made a diagonal cut at the top of the petal and then lightly tapped the edges down to see where they would naturally lie.  Then I trimmed the excess from both sides with my X-Acto knife.    

To make the shape fit around the curve of the egg, I made a diagonal cut at the top of the petal and trimmed the ends to conform to the rounded shape.

After I fitted all of the shapes to the shell, I burnished the edges with the side of my X-CTO Knife to ensure that dye wouldn't seep underneath.  Ten I carefully inspected the egg to find any gaps.  When found, I made a relief cut in it, overlapped the edges and burnished them flat against the shell.   

I used a pointy cotton swab to paint a Masking Fluid resist on any other surface that I didn't want to be dyed yellow.  (In other words, areas that I wanted to remain white or to be dyed blue were masked while areas I wanted to be to dyed yellow or green were left exposed. Note green elements will be created by leaving an area exposed in both a yellow and then a blue  dye bath.)  

I used a pointy cotton swab to paint on masking fluid on any other surface that wouldn't be dyed yellow.

Then I dipped the egg in the yellow natural dye bath.  Since the egg was hollow, I needed to pin the egg to the side of the measuring cup with some cooking utensils to keep it from popping up to the top during the dying process.  Then  I set my timer and checked the color after every 5 minute interval.

I pinned my egg tot he side of the glass down in with some heavy cooking utensils to keep it from popping up to the top during dying process.

I removed the egg from the yellow dye bath after 20 minutes.  (You can adjust the time until you get a tone that is pleasing to you.) Then I placed the egg back in the egg carton to dry.  Note: At this point, the dye is not set and the egg should be handled with care to avoid wiping off the color.  The dye will come off if you run the egg under water or rub it with a paper towel.  After a few minutes I gently patted mine egg dry with a paper towel. 

My egg after its first yellow natural dye bath and before the contact paper shapes and masking fluid was removed.

I painted the areas that I wanted to remain white or yellow with more masking fluid.  The uncovered yellow areas will turn green when dipped into the blue dye.


I dipped my egg into the Blue Natural Dye Bath for 10 minutes.


And after 10 minutes I pulled the egg out of the blue bath and then made an executive decision to turn a few white areas blue.  This was easily accomplished by rubbing off the masking fluid and re-dipping the egg in the dye bath.

I left the egg in the bath for another ten minutes.  Then I pulled it out and removed all of the masking fluid.  When I was dry I did some outlining with a black Micron Pen.

Here are some headshots of my "Almost Dirty Dozen"  starting with my Demo Egg.  Which one is your favorite?


Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #1, (my demo egg) made with Gwen Lafleur's


Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #2 made with Gwen Lafleur's
Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #3 made with Gwen Lafleur's Ornamental Peacock Stencil
Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #4, (Super Chick!) made with Gwen Lafleur's Decorative Filigree Ornament Stencil


Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #5 made with Gwen Lafleur's
Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #6 (Cracked!) made with Gwen Lafleur's Ornamental Peacock Stencil
Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #7 made with Gwen Lafleur's Ornamental Compass Mask
Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #8 made with Gwen Lafleur's Decorative Folk Art Flower Stencil
Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #9 made with Gwen Lafleur's Ornamental Petals Mask


Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #9 made with Gwen Lafleur's Decorative Curvy Repeating Corner Stencil
Natural Dye Stenciled Egg #11 made with Gwen Lafleur's Art Deco Borders Stencil

Leave a note in the comment section below and let me know which of the Almost Dirty Dozen is your favorite Natural Dye Stenciled Egg.  

Before I go, I do have some exciting news to share with you.  Gwen's got some new stencil designs coming out soon and I have it on good authority that they are gorgeous!  Stay tuned for more info.  I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Until Next Time - THINK SPRING!   Hugs, Jill

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