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Sampling the Latest Egg-Dyeing Kits : This Easter, decorate the season's favorite canvas with Gummi bears, dinosaurs or bold abstract patterns

March 31, 1988|MINNIE BERNARDINO | Times Staff Writer

Thank goodness for Easter celebrations, a time to once again make pretty baskets and decorate eggs.

Hail to the egg and its perfect form, a symbol of new life in spring.

Thank goodness for Easter egg kits. They're fast, FDA approved, convenient and easy. And finally, how wonderful that we're getting great new decorating kits in the market. The eggs are reaching new heights of beauty, perhaps even obtaining a little class.

Stunning with a jazzy marbling of the most pleasant hues of purple, pink, yellow, orange, green and blue are the eggs produced with Dudley's Sparkle Eggs kit ($2.49) from Spearhead Industries Inc. in Minneapolis. You should see these eggs out in the sun with their shining glitter (see Page One for illustration). Dudley's uses a variety of oil-base colors in packets that are dropped in water to float. When the egg is submerged into the liquid, the lightly swirled dyes quickly stick to its surface, creating the marbled effect. A light sprinkling of nontoxic glitter provides the final dazzle. Unlimited marbling or striping can be created, depending on your ability to swirl and your judgment in picking color combinations.

To create geometric or animal patterns as if they were painted freehand, use Dudley's Design An Egg, another popular kit ($2.99). A stencil mold shaped like half an egg is pressed on the egg and, using the nontoxic U. S. certified coloring pens provided, the design is stenciled on.

Another innovation from Spearhead is the scented egg coloring set, which imparts bright colors and scents of strawberry, orange, grape, root beer, banana and bubble-gum green. The newest invention that's fun for little children is the Magic Colors Easter Egg Decorating Kit ($2.50). An array of rainbow-colored, rabbit-shaped papers can be dropped in water. The rabbit disappears but the liquid retains its color.

A kit that has been around for some time, produced by different companies, is the magical shrink-on design, which uses no paint. Two examples are Dudley's Egg Dazzlers and the Instant Egg Art (59 cents) from Sun Hill Industries of Stamford, Conn. (Mickey Mouse fans will love the Instant Egg Art as there are a number of Mickey designs available with this kit.) Film egg wrappers with charming cartoon designs, as well as dinosaurs and Gummi bears, envelope the egg; when dropped in boiling water for a few seconds, they shrink to a tight film, hugging the egg. The resulting glossy pattern looks like it was printed on the egg. This kit, however, seems to be diminishing in popularity, according to Gary Thill, vice president of Spearhead. "The boiling water should not be used by younger kids," he said, "and older children find the method too fast and easy . . . there isn't much challenge."

Thill also commented that the recent increase in participation in coloring eggs, involving family activity, has inspired their company to come out with more design kits.

For those who are intrigued ethnic artists that can do the Ukrainian egg (called pyzanki ), a kit is now at their service. Johanna Luciow of Minneapolis has made the once-painstaking batiking process easy with her Ukrainian Easter Egg Decorating Kits (from $7.95), books (from $5.95) and videocassette tape ($39.95). The Ukrainian Gift Shop proprietor offers various size kits consisting of anolin color dyes, beeswax, a writing tool (called kistka) with a funnel on one end and pointed tip on the other and instruction sheets with step-by-step design illustrations. The pyzanki process involves drawing the pattern on the egg, layering with wax and dyeing.

"Although symbols remain and we try to keep traditional designs, the patterns can go on infinitely," said Luciow, whose mother taught her the art when she was a child. The nontoxic prepared dyes have also made pyzanki art more convenient than using natural dyes like onion skins and berries. "Most people don't use the traditional natural dyes anymore because they find they take too long, and the dyes don't give good colors," Luciow said.

She added that the project has attracted many natives of this country as well and that the kit has made it easier for beginners to learn. "You'd be surprised how it's catching on; more and more schools and universities have adapted the trade into their classes." Traditionally, the eggs are not cooked. "They take the dyes better if they are raw," Luciow explained, "they dry out eventually; I have some that are 16 to 18 years old."

The Ukrainian Easter Egg kit may be ordered by calling the shop, (612) 788-2545 or writing to Ukrainian Gift Shop, 2422 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis, Minn. 55418. Another source is Maid of Scandinavia, 3244 Raleigh Ave., Minneapolis, Minn. 55416; or call toll free (800) 328-6722.

The Dudley and Sunhill Easter Egg Kits are available at most supermarkets.

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