Studio 1825
Photographer serving Oxford, Grenada, and Starkville, Mississippi and surrounding areas

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Documentary Family Photography Blog | Oxford, Starkville, Grenada, MS | Studio1825

 

Easter Egg Dyeing (and I'm teaching a class!) ~5 min read

So there I was, 10 years old, sitting next to my brother at our 1970’s yellow Formica kitchen counter with cups of dye in front of us and the smell of boiled eggs in the air. We weren’t a family that had tons of traditions while I was growing up, but one of my favorites was dyeing Easter eggs with my mom and brother every spring. He and I were usually wearing some enormous, old t-shirts with bugs bunny or something on them because we were inevitably going to get dye on ourselves.

This was back when Paas only made one type of egg dye kit.  Nowadays Paas makes half a dozen or more kits, and I always buy three or four to experiment with every year (because I’m still that kid). But there in my old, yellow kitchen, we had six cups of dye.

Looking back, egg dyeing is one of those things that makes me realize just how much the creative side of my personality was solidified, even as a kid. I loved how you could mix colors on your egg to get colors that weren’t included in the dye kit. I was always fascinated with how the dye would get darker if you left the egg in longer (something my impatient self usually couldn’t handle).  And I would always try so hard with that squirrely invisible crayon to draw patterns and designs on my eggs. I tried to be as thoughtful and meticulous in my egg designs as my 10 year old brain could muster.

My younger brother took a more “live fast, dye the young” approach. He’d take that invisible crayon, scribble furiously all over his eggs, and then dip them quickly in the orange or blue dye cups. Orange and blue were his favorites; all other colors were scum and there was no argument to be had here. He then had to be talked into allowing his eggs to sit in the cups for longer than a few seconds, but when he would finally come around, he ended up loving the result. We had to talk him into it every. single. year.

Our mother was creative and patient in her creativity: a quality of hers that always fascinated me. She could let an egg sit in a cup of dye for a full 10 minutes! How could she do it?! And then the egg would be the most saturated, brilliant shade of blue or green or red. Oh the envy!  And then she’d make the most skilled designs with that blasted, squirrely crayon that my growing fingers just couldn’t manipulate. I admired her skill so much and just couldn’t wait to be able to do the same one day. Her decorated eggs were always the most beautiful…but she always let us believe ours were.

I love this memory. Absolutely love it.

Like traditions, we didn’t make enough photos in our house while I was growing up. I have a few snapshots here and there that I took with disposable cameras along the way, but that’s about it. I don’t have any photos of this memory, but man I wish I did. This is exactly the reason why I got into documentary family photography…not just because I want to document my own life (which I do!), but because the lives of families everywhere deserve, nay *need*, to be documented, too!

So last year I was thrilled when I was invited to photograph this very memory being made at the house of the Kings. They were dyeing eggs!  And not just that; they roll a whole bunch of fun stuff into their Easter traditions!  They wear bunny ears every year while dyeing their eggs, and then bake carrot cake after!  My mind was, obviously, blown.

They also get multiple different dye kits with all kinds of little brushes and rollers, and different colored raw eggs to see how the dye will react with each. Oh man, I had the hardest time not putting my camera down to join them!  (See the photos from their session below!)

I ended up loving the experience so much that I decided to reinstate the tradition in my own life: a little different from when I was a kid, but just as fun.  Since it’s just my husband and I, I decided to put a grown-up spin on it. I went out and bought *multiple* dye kits and a fancy beer in some fancy packaging. My husband and I sat around on Easter evening drinking beer, watching the Hunger Games, and dyeing Easter eggs. It wasn’t your completely traditional egg-dyeing evening, but we had a blast, and we plan on doing it again this year! (You can see our pic at the bottom of the post.)

I am so thankful for the egg-dyeing memories I have with my mom and my brother, and for the Kings reminding me just how important and fun little traditions are!  Traditions are just opportunities to make memories. I hope I can always be reminded of this fact by people like the Kings, and have the opportunity to return the favor by capturing those memories for them to look back on for years to come.

***If you want to be able to capture better photos of your family similar to those below, and you live in the Oxford, MS area, I’ll be teaching a class on Spring Family Photography through the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council later this month! Hop on over to check it out! https://oxfordarts.com/shop/product/1618-photographing-real-family-moments-through-the-seasons-spring

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As promised, here’s our egg dyeing evening from last year! Probably should have taken this selfie before the movie was almost over and our boring, adult selves were tuckered out, but it was still a blast!

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Renee Wofford