Category Archives: Tutorials

I Tried It: Dyeing Easter Eggs The Natural Way

Lately my Facebook feed has been cluttered with zoomed-in, high-speed recipe videos.  Chester is the cook in our family, and no close-up of raw chicken breast is going to convince this 25-year veteran of vegetarianism to change her ways, so I was excited last week when I started seeing more craft-oriented videos in place of recipes.  One timely video I saw was a tutorial for dyeing eggs using flowers and leaves to resist the dye.  And since my mom is the master of making vegetable dyes, Opal and I headed to across town to her house to try the technique.

We used inexpensive (and garishly dyed) grocery store flowers and their leaves.  To attach them to the eggs, we cut up old nylons, wrapped them around the eggs, and secured them with twist ties.  I found it worked best to cut a tube from the leg of the nylons and secure both ends, instead of using a flat square.

Red House West || Egg Dyeing

My mom made three dye baths, one with onion skins, one with beets, and one with purple cabbage.  For the cabbage and beets, she cut them into small pieces, boiled them, and added about a tablespoon of white vinegar per cup of dye.  She then took them off the stove, and let them sit.  Instead of buying a ton of onions, she asked the produce person at her grocery store if she could have the sloughed off skins.

Opal wanted these eggs to go on our Easter tree, so I blew them first using a bulb syringe (which is the nice name for the thing you use to get snot out of a baby’s nose).  But because they were hollow, they floated on top of the dye bath instead of being submerged.  To fix this I tied metal objects to the nylons to weigh the eggs down, like bottle openers and even a halibut fishing line weight.

Red House West || Dyeing Eggs

For the onion skin bath we added the eggs as it was boiling.  We left them in the dye for about 20 minutes or so, checking on them often to make sure they were still submerged.  Then we fished each out and let them dry for a few minutes before peeling off the nylons.

Red House West || Dyeing Easter Eggs

(I took the twist tie off this one before snapping the picture)

For the beet and cabbage dyes, we submerged the eggs and then refrigerated them overnight.

Red House West || Dyeing Easter Eggs

The purple cabbage dye is in the foreground, beet dye in the white container.

Then came the best part, peeling off the nylons to see how the eggs turned out!  I snipped the twist ties off, carefully removed the nylons and botanicals, and then patted the eggs dry with a paper towel.  I love the way they turned out!  The colors are surprisingly vibrant, and the detail on some of them is really striking.

Red House West || Dyeing Easter Eggs

Beet dye in the egg cup on the left, and the other two in egg cups are onion dye.  The two indigo eggs are the purple cabbage dye.

I especially love the blue from the purple cabbage dye.  I think the eggs look like sun prints.

Red House West || Dyeing Easter Eggs

Red House West || Dyeing Easter Eggs

Red House West || Dyeing Easter Eggs

To make them into ornaments for the Easter tree I threaded a long upholstery needle with thin ribbon and tied a knot and then a bow at the bottom.

Red House West || Easter Egg Dyeing

Red House West || Dyeing Easter Eggs The Natural Way

Red House West || Dyeing Easter Eggs the Natural Way

I’m so glad we’ll get to enjoy these egg ornaments for years to come.  Big shout out to my mom for lending us her expertise, and for doing the really messy parts!  If you’re interested, the video tutorial that inspired this project is up on our Facebook page.

Have a great week!

Holiday Crafting at RHW South

Last week we shared a holiday edition of DIYs to Try, and this past weekend try them I did!  I had one of those infrequent, blissful weekends where the days stretched long and my obligations were few – it was the perfect time to crank up the music and do some festive crafting.

I loved the simple wreath we shared and really wanted to create my own, but wasn’t sure where to find a lovely metal ring like the one they used.

I don’t know about your thrift stores, but ours are practically overrun with wreath forms this time of year – huge bins of them tangled among the innumerable broken tree stands.  I just unhooked the rings, pulled the smallest one off, then spray painted it copper.

Red House West || Holiday The form still had floral wire attached (bonus!) and I just eyeballed the placement of eucalyptus and baby’s breath from the grocery store supplemented with some greens and berries my dear aunt brought over.  I’m loving my new holiday wreath!

Red House West || Holiday I loved the advent village we shared last week, and it inspired me to make a couple little house-shaped votive holders.  Instead of the paper they used in their tutorial, I decided to try air-dry clay.  I did not want anything too complicated to interfere with my weekend of leisure and air-dry clay has much to recommend it: It’s cheap, very easy to use, and very easy to clean up.  I started by cutting out paper templates of the houses and, because I decided to make my them three-sided, I cut rectangle templates too.

Red House West || Holiday Cameron showed me a great trick for rolling out a uniform slab of clay – just put a couple strips of wood the same thickness you want your clay to be and set the rolling pin on top of them.

Red House West || HolidayI used a small utility knife to cut the clay around my house templates, and also used it to cut out windows and doors.  I used a teeny-tiny cookie cutter to make little stars in the houses’ sides.

Red House West || Holiday I didn’t worry about making things perfect or even symmetrical – whimsy is the name of this game!  I left the clay to dry on a piece of parchment paper for about 24 hours.

Red House West || Holiday To assemble the houses, I just glued the rectangles onto the sides.  I tried using a hot glue gun, but it didn’t work at all.  I ended up using Gorilla Glue (just something we already had around), and though it worked it didn’t dry completely clear, and I had to scrape some of it off.

Red House West || HolidayI used battery-operated LEDs so I can leave them lit without worrying about setting the booze hutch afire and I gotta say, I’m really liking the festive light they cast.  This would be a really, really easy project to do with little kids and if you used a square cookie cutter instead of the utility knife to make the windows, they could do almost all of it themselves.

Red House West || Holiday These are both easy, inexpensive projects that I definitely recommend trying!  Have a wonderful week!


Framing Tips: An Update

More than a year ago I wrote a post about some DIY ideas I had for framing art.  Some things haven’t changed much, the first sentence in that post reads, “I woke up this morning to the sound of a torrential downpour.  The rain lasted all morning and the light was flat and gray.”  But while the weather hasn’t improved, my method for DIY framing on the cheap has.

The impetus for revisiting that tutorial came from some art I recently bought on Etsy, including this original acrylic landscape and a $2 portrait card, both from Isabella Di Sclafani (who did the Jane Eyre print in the Chamber of Secrets), and this print by Israeli artist Tali, whose Etsy store is called TushTush.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsI like all of these pieces so much, and was determined not to add them to the towering stacks of unframed art already inhabiting many corners of our house.  So I read through my old post, made some tweaks to the process, then assembled my materials.


  • Poster board
  • Fabric
  • Spray Adhesive
  • Glue, Mod Podge, or double sided tape
  • Utility Knife
  • Ruler (I highly recommend a clear acrylic one)
  • Cutting Mat
  • Frames (I used ones from the thrift store)
  • Pencil

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats
Step One:
Lay the glass pane from your frame on a piece of poster board and trace around it. Cut it out using either scissors or a utility knife.  Center your art on your cut poster board, and trace around it. You want your opening to be smaller than your art, so measure in about 1/8″ from all sides of your traced line, and use the utility knife and ruler to cut it out.

Here is a photo of two cut mats; I made the one around the piece on the left quite a bit larger than the portrait itself because I wanted to do a double mat:

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Two:

Cut a piece of fabric just slightly larger than the outer edges of your mat.  If necessary, iron it to get the wrinkles out, then lay it out on a flat surface.

Step Three:

Take your cut poster board outside (I did one at a time) and apply spray adhesive following the directions on the can.  It is really sticky, so I suggest using a hard, flat surface to spray on (last time I used a sheet and it was a mess).

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Four:

Carry your mat board back inside and lay it sticky side down on the fabric you cut and laid out.  Gently press the mat onto the fabric then flip it over and smooth out any creases.  When I did this project a year ago, I tried to do this step outside and the combination of wind and grit and stickiness was a nightmare.  I strongly recommend having the spray station outside and doing everything else inside.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Five:

When the glue has set, use scissors or a utility knife to trim the excess fabric from the edges of the board.  The outer edge will most likely be covered by your frame, so you don’t need to worry about making a perfect cut.  Use your utility knife to make an ‘x’ in the opening of your mat board (image on the right).

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Six:

Trim off the points of your triangles, then use Mod Podge, glue, or double-sided tape to adhere them to the back of your mat board.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Seven:

Reassemble your frames!  You’re done!

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsBy following the same steps listed above, but doing it twice, I made a double mat for the little lady portrait, and I really love the way it turned out.  She’s a sweet and quirky addition to our hallway.

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats

close up hallwayThe landscape hangs in our living room above Norma Jean, who is still awaiting new clothes.  Looking at this photo I wonder if I may have hung it a little high relative to the chair, but the height is consistent with the rest of the art in the room so I’m not sure.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsThe colors of the painting are a nice complement for Beatrice, who is on the opposite wall.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsI decided to use a floral fabric for the other portrait, and I think the pattern and colors work well with her winsome expression.

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats

The bottom of this mat is a little thicker than the top – there are more details on the thought behind this in the original post.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsShe’s hanging on the blue walls in our dining room, and is doing a good job of making the early nights feel moody rather than gloomy.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsThanks for reading along – if any of you try this project I’d love to see! Mera and I are taking next week off from posting to enjoy Thanksgiving with our families; have a wonderful week and we’ll see you back here on Monday, November 28th!