Finally, a treasure hunt not involving sunglasses or phones – and we big people get to do the hiding!
I love this tradition we’ve started, having a great activity for the holidays that only relies on our resourcefulness. Fortunately, our little one doesn’t yet know about chocolate eggs, so treasure eggs are it. The challenge is keeping them in one piece, once they’re found.
I’m always a fan of splitting up tasks to make them better fit into the day, so I suggest prepping the eggs on one day and painting them the next. This also means you can wash the eggs and they can dry overnight, or else they do tend to keep oozing.
STEP ONE: BLOW YOUR EGGS
You will need:
- eggs, ideally in a carton
- rudimentary tapping tool (e.g. a wooden spoon)
- repurposed egg piercing tool (e.g. large sewing needle)
- tool for making small holes into larger holes (e.g. a building nail – or, if you’re a super-crafter, you could also use a dremmel on low speed with the drill bit attachment)
- a bowl
Pierce the eggshell top and bottom. Tapping a long sewing needle with the back of the wooden spoon seems to work pretty well. You can be reasonably firm. I leave them in the carton whilst doing this bit, to make life easier.
Now that you have a “pilot hole” in each egg, you can take your nail and twist it into each of the holes till it’s enlarged. The bottom hole benefits from being larger, as this is where the egg needs to escape. Don’t be concerned if you crack an egg slightly or even create a hole for a mouse (I think that is why papier-mâché was invented).
You’re now ready to blow the egg white and yolk out of the shell and into the bowl. Blowing from the top hole of the egg, expelling the contents out the bottom hole. Yes, it’s delightful. Some eggs seem to empty easily, while others can be challenging. I think it helps clear the egg more easily if the holes are positioned more or less opposite each other and not askew. (Going back and enlarging the holes is another option if you have a troublesome egg!)
Gently rinse out the eggs, carefully dry, and then leave them to completely dry overnight.
STEP TWO: EGG PAINTING
You will need:
- acrylic paints and brushes
- egg holders (e.g. bamboo skewers)
- empty jars to hold skewered eggs whilst drying
Before you get painting, feel free to patch repair any shells. Usually the damage will be on the bottom where the hole has blown out, so some fine papier-mâché could work – or, in our case, a little piece of masking tape did the trick. Whatever suits your level of enthusiasm is fine!
Place your eggshell upside down on the table and gently insert a bamboo skewer into the existing hole. This can now be your egg handle for ease of painting. Paint the bottom half while the egg is on the table, using the brush to smooth down any lifting shell.
Turn your egg upright to paint the top half. They will probably need two coats of paint, so leave the skewers in and rest them in empty jars or a nearby pot plant to dry between coats.
STEP THREE: GETTING YOUR LEAF ON
You will need:
- a small bottle of Size Medium or Leafing Size (the “glue” for gold leaf, available at art and craft stores)
- around 12 small sheets of imitation gold leaf
- small paint brush for the Size Medium
- clean, dry paint brush for the gold leaf
- small saucer or jar lid to tip the Size Medium into
Tip a blob of Size Medium (around the size of a 20 cent piece) onto your small saucer or jar lid. Collect a small amount on your brush and begin “painting” your egg with the pattern you want to end up gold. I kept mine pretty loose, thinking of the overall effect (read: forgiving, time-efficient and kid-friendly), rather than aiming for perfect patterns. A thin layer of medium is good – it should start to turn clear as it dries and becomes tacky. This means it is ready to get gold!
With clean, dry hands (I can’t stress this enough!), tear off pieces of gold leaf to place over your tacky, mostly translucent splotches. If you have covered most of your egg with a pattern, it might be easier to lay a sheet of gold down and, starting at one edge, roll your egg across it. The glue will pick up the leaf and soon your whole egg is wrapped, leaving you then to brush off the excess to reveal your pattern.
Now take your dry paintbrush and gently brush over the leaf until the non-glued excess starts to come away and your shapes are revealed. It’s best to start out gently in order to avoid tearing through the gold, but you can be more assertive with the brush once you can see which bits of gold are staying and which are going.
Continue until you have a beautiful mess and a special collection of eggs for gifting or treasure hunting.
DIY by Anoushka Gourlay from Hey Ho, Let's Slow.