Tag Archives: Molly de Vries

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Egg Dyeing Workshop

A few days ago, I posted about the tradition of dyeing, giving and celebrating with eggs for Easter and spring. Today I got to attend a lovely workshop, where we dyed eggs with plant dyes, in the Mill Valley store Maison Reve, under the guidance of Molly de Vries. It was a lot of fun and wonderful to gather with neighbors of all ages to enjoy a time-honored art. Egg dyeing is easy, inexpensive, creative and limitless. I enjoyed seeing everyone’s decorating ideas and techniques.

The plant dyes had been created in advance using onion skin, turmeric, cabbage, and beets.

Molly also provided tape, string, crayons, and beeswax, so people could create designs on their eggs, which would often show up white after the eggs absorbed the dye. (For complete dyeing instructions, see my earlier post.)

I used beeswax to make little dots, which I put all over the egg before soaking it in the onion skin dye for about 40 minutes.

I had help removing the wax, to reveal the white of the eggshell (and a little wax, which the group liked) underneath.

Happy Easter and Spring.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Read Part 1: Dye Eggs Like the Ancients with Plant Dyes

Dye Eggs like the Ancients with Plant Dyes

The ancient Romans had a saying, Omne vivum ex ovo, “All life comes from an egg.” In spring, we celebrate new birth and spiritual rebirth, much the way people have been doing for centuries — from Persia to Polynesia, India to Africa, Central Europe to Central America — and much of the ritual centers on the egg.

In a wonderful piece on spring rituals in the Huffington Post, Donna Henes writes that, in spring:

It is as if the great egg of the whole world has hatched.

The ancient Persians may have been among the first to dye their eggs, which were used in springtime festivals almost 5,000 years ago. Ukrainians and other Slavic people, in Eastern Europe, were also among some of the first ancient people to decorate eggs and use them in their sun worship and spring ceremonies.

The Ukrainians created especially elaborate designs for their eggs, which are called Pysanky. ¬†This is a wonderful¬†history of Pysanky, an ancient practice that lives today and influenced other cultures to decorate and give eggs — from the Medieval Europeans to the 1800s Pennsylvania Dutch, who brought egg-dyeing from Europe to the U.S. and in turn influenced druggist William Townley to create commercial egg dyes for his Paas Dye Company, which is still in business today. (The word Paas stems from Passen, the Pennsylvania Dutch word for Easter.)

Below, decorated Ukrainian Pysanky:

1880s customers clamored for William Townley’s egg-dyeing tablets, but of course the ancients used natural dyes from plants, roots, coffee and tea, and those are still wonderful and fun to use today. They also result in stunning, natural colors.

My friend Molly de Vries at The Fabric Society wrote a beautiful post about dyeing eggs using natural plant dyes. She used onion skin, turmeric, blueberries, cabbage, and grape juice. I’ve gotten nice results with beets. She includes complete and simple instructions for making your own dyes and creating festive dyed eggs. Her site is also filled with inspiration and pretty pictures about this and other projects.

The DTLK Kids site also has lots of ideas for unusual egg-dyeing projects and ways to create patterns and designs on your dyed eggs.

If you wish to take egg-dyeing to a whole other level, this is a terrific how-to site for exploring elaborate Ukrainian Pysanky designs, which are often created with layers of different colors, using small bits of candle wax where you don’t want the color to penetrate — a technique that resembles batik.

Enjoy your celebration of spring.

Dyed Egg Photos by Molly de Vries.

Ukrainian Egg Photo – Museum of the Pysanka, Kolomiya, Ukraine. Photo by Lubap.

Read Part 2: Egg Dyeing Workshop

Eco Fashion Show Part Two: The Screen Printing

Screen printing was another very exciting part of the day I spent helping girls get ready for the Fairfax Festival Eco Fashion Show, which takes place Saturday, June 13. We ended Part One of the prep with Annabel and her wonderful altered shirt overlaid with a screen print of a cactus.


The cactus was photographed and then traced.


A neighbor of Molly’s had helped her repair her old screen printing machine, so the girls could make prints for the show. As Molly noted, we see screen printed T shirts all the time, but we are removed from the process of making them by hand. To do so, both screen and drawing get run through a machine that looks a bit like an old copier. This creates a kind of stencil of the artwork on the screen.

This is a print Jessie made using the cactus screen.



This is a screen of the “Youth Making a Difference” logo. The girls are going to wear Youth Making a Difference shirts in a parade before the fashion show.


Molly helps Amanda make her screen print.


Anna applies paint to the back side of the screen.


It gets spread with this wonderful tool.



The finished shirt came out fantastic.


.. As did a print on this handmade hemp shoulder bag.



Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Young Crafters Prepare for Eco Fashion Show


About a dozen wonderful teens and younger girls have been busy for months preparing for an Eco Fashion Show that is slated to be part of the annual Fairfax Festival in Fairfax, CA, this Saturday. More details about the show are here. I had the good fortune to spend time with them last weekend and watch their creations and creativity bloom, as they transitioned recycled and vintage clothes to new uses and made beautiful items, while having fun, all under the auspices of Sustainable Fabric Guru Molly de Vries.


My daughter Anna opted to repurpose an old nightgown of mine that I wasn’t wearing.


As soon as she altered it, she had made it her own and was happy thinking about how she would embellish it.


She pinned this beautiful lace to the hem, and then sewed it by machine.




Meanwhile, Hannah was hand-sewing a lovely shirt made from a variety of vintage clothing and fabrics.


Jessie further embellished a beautiful pleated silk skirt that she had made. (This picture does not do it justice.)


Amanda continued adding to her own lovely brown sundress.



Annabel tried on different outfits for the show, also thinking about what to alter further.



The screen print on Annabel’s shirt was made using a tracing of a photo of this cactus:


See Part Two of this story to learn more about our screen printing fun.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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