By Gina Olkowski
Not quite a year ago, I was scrolling Instagram and saw Betsy Knott (@knottbetsy) post a picture of the cockle shells the family dyed in preparation for Easter. (She in turn thanked Melelise @oceane.goods for the idea.) I tucked that photo away until I could gather some shells. I already had the Easter egg dye. This is a very easy project for yourself alone or with young (and patient) children.
- 12-40 shells depending on your project
- Paas Easter egg dye tablets (or other brand)
- White vinegar for dye tablets
- Food coloring (optional)
- Mugs or small plastic containers large enough for multiple shells (I used old gelato containers and Dollar Store containers with lids.)
- Optional materials:
- Easter grass
- Grapevine wreath
- Wire tree
- E6000 glue or other other project adhesive.
Dyeing the shells
- Wash the shells to remove any sand or dirt.
- Mix dye according to package directions.
- Add some food coloring to the dye solutions to create new colors or deepen the existing ones.
- Add multiple shells to each cup and let sit. (I let mine sit for days which is why I went for the containers with lids.) Check them frequently.
- Remove shells with a slotted spoon.
- Rinse the shells to remove the vinegar and set them out to dry.
- Add more shells to dye or return some for a deeper color.
- Repeat as desired.
Now the rest is up to your crafting skills, space, and materials.
The easiest is to put the dyed shells in a decorative dish or basket with or without Easter grass. Maybe hide several for a beach themed "egg" hunt instead of real or plastic eggs.
If you have a small tree to hang seasonal ornaments on, this is a simple spring look. I have a white wire one I used. Loop ribbon through an existing hole or glue a ribbon onto each shell and hang on the tree.
A more involved, though still simple project, is to glue the shells onto a wreath form or grapevine wreath. Add a pastel bow as an accent.
Additional thoughts and notes
Don't shy away from darker shells. The color is bolder when dyed.
This is a great generational family project where you can complete it over a series of visits. Visit one is collecting the shells. Visit two is the dyeing. Visit three is the crafting.
Experiment with natural food dyes like onion skins, berries, or red cabbage. Or just grab an extra dye kit or two for a rainy beach vacation day when you need something to do with the children.
Try other beach finds like starfish, sand dollars, and urchins — but be careful as they absorb the dye very quickly.
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