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Art techniques meets Easter Eggs

More than one way to paint an egg
Photo by Marianna DeBolt, 2014

In many households around the world, families may be eating their decorated eggs from last week's Easter celebrations. For some, the holiday is Easter, others New Years and then there is spring equinox. Perhaps different reasons, however the meanings are the same: new birth, a fresh start, life.

The Easter eggs we may be most familiar with are the dipped in vinegar and dye, plastic snap eggs filled with candy, chewy fruity jelly beans, melt in your mouth chocolate eggs or the sugar eggs hidden behind trees, in bushes and in flower pots.

However decorated eggs date back to the Ancient Egyptians and Persians. In preparation for the afterlife, eggs were decorated with gold and silver while placed in their burial tombs. In Egypt and Persia, decorated eggs were exchanged at spring equinox. The ancient Zoroastrians decorated eggs for their New Years that fell around the same time as Christian's Easter.

From a Christian's stand the egg represents the resurrection of Jesus. In some churches, a red painted egg stands for Christ's blood shed on the cross. Some say that the egg is the tomb and when cracked, new life begins.

Countries around the world have traditions of how they paint their eggs and the games they play with eggs. In many American homes, excited children can be seen hunting eggs in yards and parks. Families paint eggs with various processes both traditional and new techniques. At the White House each year, a long standing tradition is the egg roll on the lawn. In the UK, a similar roll is going on but instead down steep hills. In Northern England a game of tapping each other's eggs to break them is played. The winner holds the last unbroken egg. A tradition in Germany is the egg dance. Eggs lay on the dance floor and dancers must try to avoid stepping on them. Recently on social media, a man in Germany hung thousands of eggs from his tree.

Famous and highly detailed eggs are Russia's jeweled Faberge’ eggs and central Europe's wax batik pysanka eggs.

A popular set called PAAS consists of round pills of dye, a metal egg holder, a few stickers and pop up egg holders for decoration. PAAS has been around for years, a tradition in many American families. However, let’s think about the art techniques we use in our classrooms to create new ways to share with our students for next year’s egg decorating.

In the classroom hardboiled eggs could be used, however be prepared for cracks from dropping or holding too hard. Plastic eggs can be painted with gesso for a great working surface.

1) Drawing:
· Draw with markers, crayons or colored pencils

2) Painting:
· Crayon Resist (Draw with a white crayon on the clean hardboiled egg then dip the eggs in color dyes.)
· Acrylic Painting ( Paint on the egg just as you would a canvas)
· Straw Art (Drip dye on egg while blowing through the straw to move the color around the egg.)
· String Art (Using a thicker paint like tempera or acrylic, pull a string through the paint creating designs.)

3) Fine Crafts:
· Marbleizing (Add oil to your dye and dip. Another way is to add dye shaving cream or whip cream, swirl and roll the egg in the cream)
· Tie Dye (Wrap rubber bands on the hardboiled egg, dip egg in paint. After it’s dry, carefully take off the bands.)
· Decoupage (Paint a thin layer of glue or egg whites on the egg, layer your favorite pictures to cover the egg. Seal with a shiny or matte finish.)
· Glitter Roll (Paint on a thin layer of non toxic glue, roll the egg in the glitter colors of your choice. For edible eggs, use egg whites and colored sugar.)
· Bling Eggs (Attach your favorite plastic rhinestones in a fun design.)
· Collage: (Paint a thin layer of glue or egg white to an egg, layer tissue paper. Smooth the edges and seal with a shiny or matte varnish.

4) Printmaking:
· Stenciling (Trace or sponge color on to stencils to leave a print on the egg.)
· Stamping (Stamp your favorite stamps in various colors and embossing on the egg.)
· Tape designs (Add a tape design to the egg, paint or dip dye to add color. After completely dry, carefully remove tape.)

5) Sculpture:
· 3D Eggs (Using found objects, turn your eggs into people, animals, or aliens.)

6) Clay Eggs (Make homemade play dough or decorate with Crayola Model Magic coils, dots, and pressed textures.)

7) Technology (Make an animation story with your decorated eggs. Photograph your egg and use fun apps to create special effects.)

It’s important to decide whether you want your eggs edible or for decoration. Think about what mediums will be safe to eat before you start. What other ways can you decorate eggs for you next egg celebration? Happy Easter! Happy New Year! Happy Spring!

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