A natural experience

Photo of Francesca Sacco
by Francesca Sacco
Staff writer
Jim McNutt /Observer-Reporter
Brigid McElligot, 2, chooses to use stars to pre-dye her egg with the help of her mother, Julie McElligot of Upper St. Clair. The Washington County Parks and Recreation Department held a homeschool classroom Thursday at Mingo Creek County Park. Two sessions were held for children to learn how to create natural egg dye and new techniques for decorating eggs. Order a Print

With a little help from mom, Silas Ingold patiently placed a fern leaf onto a hard-boiled egg, wrapped it in a patch of panty hose and dipped it into a cup of boiled red onion skin.

As he occasionally pulled it up from the yellowish dye, Ingold grew tired of waiting for results.

“I want a darker dye,” the 6-year-old said.

Although his egg showed a light tint of yellow, at the first chance he got, Ingold submerged the egg into a deep purple mixture. Eventually, he was pleased with his result.

Ingold was among roughly 30 children who participated in the homeschool outdoor classroom last week at the Mingo Creek County Park office. With Easter approaching, Washington County Department of Parks and Recreation Program Coordinator Lisa Taylor thought a natural egg dying class would be a perfect fit. Using items found within the park – like blackberries – or at her local grocery store – grape juice and cabbage – Taylor created eight natural dyes.

“The point of the class was to learn how to use things in nature to make natural dyes,” she said.

Taylor also taught the kids different ways to decorate eggs, like using the fern leaves or electrical tape.

“Tape can be used to stripe the eggs or stickers can be placed on the eggs to leave behind different designs,” she said. “Just make sure your egg isn’t cold because it can cause condensation, which will prevent it from sticking to the egg.”

Dean Robbins, 11, was a little disappointed in the overall outcome of his eggs.

“The eggs aren’t as dark as when you use the kits,” the Dormont resident said.

He said the best dyes were the ones made from berries.

“They dye really fast.”

April Robbins said her family regularly attends the homeschool outdoor classrooms. But she was particularly excited about this program.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” she said. “We’ve never tried the natural dyes before. I’d like to try this on our own.”

Amy Ingold said she brings Silas and his brother, Oliver, 10, to as many programs as possible. She said the programs provide her boys with valuable hands-on learning.

“You retain a lot more when you are active,” she said.

While the boys enjoyed themselves, they were looking forward to getting home and trying out the techniques they learned on their own.

“We are going to dye more for Easter,” said Oliver.

“Yeah,” added Silas. “We can go look for berries!”

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