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Sometimes what you really need in your life is a jump start. For me, this project is my jump start back into blogging so I hope you enjoy it.
For me, one of my favourite holidays has always been Easter. The promise of spring, the joy of hunting for our Easter Baskets that were expertly hidden, the pretty new dresses all were part of it, yes, but there was something else: The Easter Tree.
When we lived on Craw Drive, there was a forsythia bush outside the first house we lived in and it was HUGE. Not just kid huge, like that thing you think was SO BIG but really turns out to be small once you get to be full size, but really big, like big enough that we had multi-kid ‘forts’ underneath its branches. I clearly remember my mum going and cutting some branches from that bush as it started to bud and bringing them inside to put into water. The warmth of the house would push those buds into bloom and we would have beautiful spring yellow blooms on the table. Pussy willows sometimes would be a part too and their soft little paws I remember with fondness.
But there was more. We would decorate those branches with Easter ornaments too. Some were store bought…like the wooden bunnies pushing wheelbarrows, bunnies holding flowers, fuzzy chicks…but the ones that I remember best are the hand-made marbled eggs. My memories of making these are vague at best. I remember being in a garage, most likely in Cali, with newspaper and coffee cans on the floor (which was odd because I don’t remember coffee being drunk in my house at all, only tea), my mum and friends and dipping eggs into the cans.
But, Oh, these eggs. Beautiful. Marbled and shiny with the enamel paint. Tender and delicate and one of the special joys of unpacking those Easter decorations.
Last year, when I started buying duck eggs at the Port Townsend Farmers Market from various sellers, I started thinking about how else I could use these beautiful eggs and it wasn’t a far leap to thinking about marbling them. The leap was figuring out HOW to do it. As I said, I didn’t really have a clear memory of the process. Lucky for me, my Mum came to visit at the end of February. Unlucky for me, we bought the wrong kind of enamel paint so we couldn’t do it!
Fast forward a few weeks. Yesterday I stopped at the local art supply store and bought the right kind of paint and today I got to dye-ing!
Step 1: Assemble the cast of characters.
Bucket with water…Drying box, skewers for swirling, paper towel for wiping…And, of course, the enamel paint!
I used Testors enamels that I got at my local art store. You MUST use these type (small bottles) of enamel paint/model paint, NOT the “enamel paint” you can get at JoAnns or Michaels in large bottles with the acrylics. They are different. If you can clean up with soap and water, it isn’t the right paint. See the note at the end.
Step 2: Prep the eggs for dipping. I wiped the eggs with the alcohol to clean them of any residue so the paint will stick better. I then threaded the eggs with pipe cleaners to make “handles” as well as holders for keeping the eggs up while drying. I used full sized cleaners for the duck eggs and half sized for the quail eggs.
Now the fun part!
Make sure there are NO pockets of paint after the swirling because this will mean drops of paint on your egg. You can see the paint pockets in the above photo…those little round dots of silver? Yeah, that you want to avoid. I swirled a bit more after the photo but I liked the look with the smaller quail eggs.
This is when the paint sticks to the egg. If you look carefully, you can see that the paint has stuck to the egg under the water. A better photo of this is on the next step.
Step 6: Wipe the surface of the water free of paint. This is important because you will be lifting the egg up again, obviously, and if you bring it up thru more paint, that paint too will stick and muddy the marbling. Do you see how the paint is on the egg under the water?
I had a great time!
Step 9: Allow eggs to dry in a safe, animal-free, minimal dust place for as long as it takes for them to dry. This may be a few hours to a few days, depending on the humidity of your area.
There will be a Step 10 in a few days…threading and hanging, but right now the eggs are drying, safe in the guest room!
An Important Note:
Enamel paint is not water soluble. I feel silly mentioning this since obviously it isn’t because it floats on the water to marble but this is important when it comes to clean up. You need more than soap and water…in fact, soap and water won’t do anything for you at all except give you clean, paint filled hands. And a ruined manicure. Plan ahead. Wear gloves if you’re smart! Unlike me…
The best thing to use to clean up is mineral spirits. However, I didn’t think that far ahead. But I did have nail polish remover. The good stuff with acetone and that’s the key here. The non-acetone stuff will leave you with still paint-filled fingers. So a little rubbing later, I was the proud human with…slightly still stained fingers. What had I missed? The oil. Mineral spirits or Turpentine, is made from petroleum. With the nail polish remover, there was no oil to help the removal of the paint. I washed my hands to get rid of the nail polish remover and then I used a finger full of my favourite coconut salt scrub (coconut oil and salt, nice and simple), rubbed briefly and…
Lucky me, I had to pick M up from the airport on the 30th and since we were so close to Seattle, and niece S wanted to go in anyway, we went to Uwajimaya, a HUGE asian supermarket. I found so many yummy things, a very cute present for M for Christmas and had a fun ferry trip back across towards home.
I have a few fond memories that many would call…odd…to say the least. One of my most treasured memories is making calamari with my mum. Now, I’m sure that some of you may have bought the pre-breaded calamari rings and either fried or baked them yourself but I am talking about making-from-scratch-including-the-dissection.
For some reason we had bought a box of squid (I’m sure I saw it and begged for it because it would be ‘fun’ to make it ourselves) and spent an afternoon cleaning, de-quilling, de-beaking, creating rings and making a squiddy feast. I remember how she showed me how to do the cleaning so I would not burst the ink sacs and my curious mind actually focused on looking at the entrails and I won’t even talk about how excited I got when I cleaned a female squid full of eggs! We made two different dishes and they tasted all the better because it was the whole experience that was savored.
Trust me, I do have a point here and it all links together:
This Holiday season, make a savory food memory with your kids.
Make a savory dish together that is partly fiddly, possibly hard to gather the ingredients for and required steps to make. Include them in all the steps and take your time.
Do they like calamari? Trust me, making your own from scratch is a fantastic memory.