has sprung and Easter eggs are not far behind
By Thea Steinmetz
Published April 4, 2007
of my childhood memories revolve around onionskins, violet leaves
and eggs. There was no fancy food coloring for Easter eggs, but
we sure enjoyed the whole process of coloring eggs. Every January
a large glass jar with a lid came out of the basement and was deposited
prominently on the kitchen hutch. This was the signal that every
bit of onionskin, no matter how small, was to be saved in this jar.
By the time Easter came, the container was usually full and we could
go to work.
This is a tradition I brought into our marriage and
one I carry on even today, only now I share it with some neighborhood
children. In addition to the onionskins there are a myriad of safe
plants that also add to the decorative results.
Phillips, 8, of Westlake shows off some dyed eggs. The eggs
were colored using onionskins and violet leaves. (West Life
photo by Larry Bennet)
For dyeing the eggs, I start by picking out plants
that are wrapped around the egg. Parsley is my favorite because
it results in a pleasing picture once the egg is processed. Hold
the parsley close to the egg and cover completely with the onion
skins. Then, to secure the two, wrap in a square of nylon stocking
and tie together so the parsley and the onionskin cannot escape
when immersed in water. Not everyone will have old nylon stockings,
and a square of cheese cloth is a good alternative.
The young leaves of the violet were the first botanical
leaf I used for this process and it is still one of my favorites.
The problem is whether the violets are up or not. For an early Easter,
nature might not have brought the plants to the point where the
leaves are out of the ground or not.
The lavender has plenty of stems on the plant, so
it is possible to cut several stems to wrap around the egg for a
feathery look. I have also used the leaves of lady’s mantle, thyme
and bay leaves. Of course there are many shapes that come from the
garden, but if the eggs are to be eaten, I do not want to use plants
that are not safe to eat. For instance, I like the small leaf of
the boxwood, but it is not safe for eating, so I don’t use it.
Always place the eggs in the pot and add cold water.
I also add a teaspoon of salt to retard cracking and never cook
more than six at a time. If you have additional onionskins not used
for wrapping around the egg, add to the cooking water. Once the
eggs come to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for five minutes.
Then, turn off the heat and let the eggs cool in the water for about
one hour. This will result in a better decorative crispness of the
plants wrapped around the egg. The eggs are then plunged in ice water for
When the eggs are boiled in beet juice, a pleasant
red is the result. Experiment and see how much fun it can be. I
have also made small dots with crayon on the clean shell before
adding plant sprigs, and it makes for an added ornamentation.
Unwrap the eggs and rub with a piece of bacon for
a glossy shine. Remember that eggs should always be kept in the
Have you ever been to Eggshelland? It is not necessary
to go to a faraway location; just travel across town to Lyndhurst.
This is the 50th anniversary for this time-consuming labor of love
for Betty and Ron Manolio. They were newlyweds then and started
a unique display of transforming their front yard with a mosaic
design of 750 eggshells. The project has grown and some of the following
exhibits had as many as 10,000 shells.
The eggs used are painted in 24 brilliant outdoor
sign paint enamel. Even though the aim is to save as many shells
as possible from year to year, there is an unavoidable breakage
of about 1,500 shells. After Easter, they are stored by color in
boxes of 250.
The theme changes every year and is based on what
is popular with the children. The subjects have included “Dora the
Explorer,” Bugs Bunny,
“Blue’s Clues” and many more. There are two displays that
stay the same from year to year, one is the Cross and the other
is the Easter Bunny.
Their efforts have been featured on Ripley’s Believe
it or Not and a picture was circulated by the United Press. The
Manolios are still chuckling when they remember that a call came
from Japan one July and they wanted the display set up just for
them to show it on Japanese television. They were surprised when
they were told they had to bring their camera crew at Easter when
the exhibit was in place.
This year’s anniversary display is a “Blast from the
Past” and includes popular features from past years. The Flintstones,
The Jetsons and Scooby Doo will make a return appearance.
The display is now in place and will remain so until
after Easter. For this unique and no cost family outing, the location
is Eggshelland, 1031 Linden Lane, Lyndhurst Ohio.