All-Natural Egg-Dyeing Program

Eggs are wrapped in onions skins, parley and kite string a week before the program
Lynell Tobler, vice president of SDCI, the Friends group for Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, a globally rare and federally protected ecosystem in Owings Mills, gathers participants together every year on the Sunday before Easter to demonstrate her natural dyeing and decorating techniques. In anticipation of SDCI’s spring fundraiser, Lynell spent the previous weekend wrapping almost three dozen raw eggs in layers of onion skins and sprigs of fresh parsley and dill weed, fastening the herbs against each egg with kite string. Using recipes honed over many years as a volunteer ranger and naturalist for the Maryland Park Service, Lynell then hardboiled four eggs in each of eight natural dyes, including chopped beets, red cabbage, chili powder, turmeric, grape juice concentrate, pomegranate juice and coffee grounds. Then she let them sit in their dyes in the fridge for several days to deepen and enhance the hues.

Lynell Tobler shows off her finished eggs, dyed with all-natural ingredients
On the day before her egg-dyeing program, Lynell decorated the auditorium at the Soldiers Delight Visitor Center with all the ingredients necessary to wrap raw eggs in similar fashion. Then she embellished a sandwich-board sign at the end of the long visitor-center driveway with bright chalk advertising the program to passersby.

Participants arrived right on time Sunday, toting dozens of raw eggs in supermarket cartons. Tables in the auditorium were covered in festive yellow sheeting. Bowls full of water held onion skins collected from local supermarkets. Paper plates on each table held bunches of fresh parsley sprigs, the delicate fronds known for their ability to impart intricate designs on the eggshells. A table in the center of the room displayed natural dyes and handouts describing how to obtain the best results at home. Scissors and kite string and marking pens awaited participants at egg-decorating stations set up around the room.

Claudia and Phillip Walsh, from Rockville, Maryland, with their children, Riehen, 11, left, and Anya, 8, wrap their eggs in parsley, onion skins and kite string
As the program began, Lynell demonstrated how to wrap the eggs and then went around the room giving children and adults a close-up view of what to do. As Lynell’s helpers, SDCI board president Laura Van Scoyoc, treasurer Mike Snead and volunteer Jesse Turner, assisted participants in preparing their eggs, Lynell unwrapped her previously dyed eggs and buffed them to a sheen with a bit of salad oil on a soft cloth. The results were beautiful. Green, orange, brown, dark blue, pale blue and pink eggs mottled with impressions of frilly leaves were displayed on a crystal platter for all to see. The finished effects looked like polished marble.

The Walsh family of Rockville, Maryland, participants at this year's egg-decorating program, got stunning results with turmeric, red cabbage and other natural ingredients
A week later, Lynell got a look at eggs dyed by some of her participants. The happy family got gorgeous results at home with their all-natural dyes.

The program was fun for everyone, and all enjoyed injecting a bit of color into the first days of spring.

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