On Saturday, April 3, College Outdoors (CO) conducted its first-ever egg dyeing event. Lucy Clifford ’24 and Elise Pfrommer ’21, trip leaders for the event, showed participants how to make dye using natural ingredients. Participants made dyes out of purple cabbage, turmeric and chili powder; each ingredient was mixed with boiled water and vinegar before the eggs were placed inside. The eggs were protected inside a pouch of fabric tied with twine, and the dye seeped through the fabric in order to get to the egg.
CO was a major factor in Clifford’s decision to attend Lewis & Clark, and she has managed to work her way up to trip leader after just a semester and a half When applying to become a trip leader, Clifford compiled a list of trips she wanted to run, and egg dyeing was at the top of the list because it preserved one of her personal Easter traditions.
“I have done this ever since I was little, just collecting plants for the eggs,” Clifford said.
While Pfrommer prepared the dyes, Clifford took participants to the LC Graduate Campus to collect flowers and leaves to put inside their pouch. Some participants collected brightly colored hibiscus leaves or daffodil buds, hoping the natural pigments from the petals would seep onto their egg, while others collected leaves in an attempt to make an imprint on the surface of their egg.
Participants then wrapped all of their flora into the fabric with their egg and an onion skin (used to get a light brown pigment), and tied the fabric with the twine. They then dropped the bundle into either the colored dye if they were going for color, or pure boiling water if they were looking for an imprint.
Trevor Jackson ’24 attended the event and was excited to see the patterns on his egg after the 15-20 minute waiting period was up.
“I think my favorite part was unwrapping my egg and finding the cool plant designs on it,” Jackson said.
The cabbage dye worked the best, turning the surface of the eggs a deep blue after only half an hour, while the turmeric dyed the eggs a pale yellow hue.
Clifford explained the basic chemistry behind how the homemade dye works.
“Since the vinegar is acidic, and the shell is just calcium and basic, it basically breaks down the outer layer (of the shell) so the little pores of the shell are open and then it can absorb all the dye,” Clifford said.
Clifford and Pfrommer designed the event so that it was open-ended, and geared towards what participants were interested in doing. Each of the 10 participants got multiple eggs and were able to experiment with both the boiling and colored dye techniques.
The trip leaders were glad they forewent a strict plan and left the event up to the interests of their participants.
“The best part is that we were winging it and everyone was just experimenting and we were all wrapping the eggs and messing around with colors,” Clifford said.
Although Friday’s egg dyeing event had to be canceled due to a lack of signups, the students who came on Saturday were grateful for the opportunity to participate through CO.
“I love that you can just sign up really easily and there’s always a fun activity to do,” Jackson said. “There’s no pressure to bring a group if you don’t have anyone who wants to come.”
Clifford hopes to make the egg dyeing event an annual spring staple at CO.