A great way to avoid buying plastic Easter eggs is to make your own stash of eco-friendly Easter eggs that you can re-use year after year, or embellish store-bought Easter eggs made with natural materials, such as wood, ceramic, or papier mache.
We’ve done all of the above, including making DIY papier mache Easter eggs and wool felted Easter eggs, but I enjoy adding to our stash every year–for one thing, I’ve got two kids to whom I’m hoping to pass down our beautiful handmade eggs, so I need a good stash, and for another, I’m never quite sure that we get *every* single egg back from every single Easter egg hunt…
One of the easiest ways to have a beautiful stash of heirloom Easter eggs is to buy wooden eggs and then embellish them. To wood burn and stain them, you’ll need just the following:
wooden Easter eggs. I’m a HUGE fan of Casey’s Wood Products, and I’ve purchased a ridiculous number of wooden objects from them over the past several years, including pretty much every size of wooden egg. I look for the items made in Maine, and of second-quality.
wood burner. I own this one, and although I don’t love it, the price was certainly right, and it’s worked for me for probably six years by now, so I certainly don’t have much to complain about. I really want these alphabet brands that you can use with a wood burner, and if they fit mine, then that would certainly raise my opinion of it!
watercolors. Use liquid watercolors if you’re wanting to stain the wood, and any watercolors if you’re wanting to paint on details.
The method itself is super easy, and a great family activity.
1. Draw your design in pencil. This is something the the whole family can do while sitting around the table together. Add in some music or an audiobook and you’ve got the perfect hour before bedtime in my family! My kids prefer to draw scenes onto their eggs (I have one kid who draws dragons on everything, including every holiday decoration for the past three years), but I think these eggs look really interesting with little designs and patterns, zentangle-style, done all over them. I especially like it because it’s something that you simply can’t do with most eggs, so it adds to their interest and appeal.
You might want to watch against penciling in too many tiny details, as you’ll soon be wood burning them, but I’ve actually found that my wood burner can get quite a bit of detail if I use a light touch.
2. Wood burn your design into the egg. If you’re wood burning noobs, you can designate a “practice egg” for yourself so that you can play around with the wood burner and get a feel for it. It doesn’t really work to use any old scrap of wood for practice, because the wood burner will burn each type of wood differently.
My kids have been using the wood burner since they were both pretty small; they still don’t totally have the hand for it–they tend to press too hard and have a lot of stop-and-starts–but they’re quite capable of doing it, and they love it.
3. Embellish with watercolor. If you’re looking to stain your egg all over, you can do it with any color of liquid watercolor–my tutorial for that is here. If you want to paint details onto your egg, you can do that with any watercolors and a small paintbrush. Manage your expectations by realizing that the watercolor will flow along the grain of the wood, often unexpectedly, so don’t expect rigid lines demarcations except where you’ve wood burned.
Optional: Seal the completed Easter egg. Oh, my gosh, y’all, I get so many questions about this! People really, really, REALLY want a non-toxic, eco-friendly, food-grade wood sealant that will stand up to a kid putting a stained and sealed toy into her mouth. I am sitting right here and killing that dream for you. Your sealant can be non-toxic, eco-friendly, and food-grade, OR it can stand up to a kid putting it into her mouth. If your kid is still putting her toys in her mouth, just… don’t stain it those beautiful watercolor colors until she’s older.
If a kid mouthing your Easter eggs is not a concern for you–and if you’re head-scratching right now, I promise you that it’s such a concern for SO many people that I had to write it first–then check out the following options for sealing your wooden Easter egg.
1. Don’t seal it. It doesn’t really need it if it’s just coming out to play around Easter time.
2. Use this homemade beeswax wood polish. Test it on your practice egg first. I, personally, don’t love sealing stuff with beeswax polish, but a lot of people do, so there you go.
3. Use a polyurethane alternative. Here are a few to play with.
4. Use a non-eco-friendly product. I know, I know, but it’s my personal philosophy that if we use eco-friendly products whenever possible, then we have the wiggle room to use something not eco-friendly whenever it’s legitimately the best solution. Sealant and aerosol spray mount are two products that I do own and use, simply because I haven’t yet found acceptable, eco-friendly alternatives. If YOU know of great, eco-friendly alternatives, let me know right this second!
I store our stash of Easter eggs year-round with our other holiday decorations, and bring them out sometime after St. Patrick’s Day every year, when they once again strike us as new and colorful and festive and fun. Sometime after Easter, I might buy a few more plain wooden eggs to have on hand, because the next year, we’re for sure going to want to decorate some more!