The real problems began when I started to fry the paint. Not that things were going great before this point, but a little sensible intervention would have set events on a less destructive course. Once the paint-frying started, I’d put too much effort in to turn back. The paint-frying was the fulcrum between quaint craft activity and kaleidoscopic disaster.
I had started with 21 hens’ eggs ready to be blown, cleaned, painted and hidden around the house in a lovely Easter activity. There were still seven days left until Easter, and I had left them out for a couple of days beforehand so they’d age. Delia says that this makes the bond between egg and shell easier to break, so I thought that blowing would be easier. This was not true.
Then I added the second hole in the shell.
Already, you’re probably thinking that I’m a bit barmy, or at least remarkably stupid. I can assure you that at every stage I did the next logical thing. So, I spent three hours blowing all the gunk out of the eggs. Unsurprisingly, my slime-smeared fingers relinquished some of the eggs rather vigorously into the awaiting bowl. More surprisingly, I succeeded in blowing the entire bottom half from more than one with the sheer destructive force of my incredible lungs. Or maybe I was just holding them too tightly.
I ended up with 13 shells. This seemed an ill-fated number, so I broke another one for luck.
The paint refused to stick. I had not spent three hours of my life to be left with plain eggs decorated with solely a Lion Mark and two ragged holes. So I began to fry the paint.
No; I’ve lost you? It’s quite simple when you think about it. The problem, I decided, was that my children’s washable finger paint was just that; washable, watery, and as a result rather low on pigment. The solution? Remove some of the water to increase the pigment:water ratio. See; perfectly logical. And frying rather than simmering as the larger surface area would see water lost quicker. Science in action!
I decided to wait until everyone else had gone out. Somehow, that seemed more sensible, and avoided any awkward questions. I got a small frying pan and a wooden spatula out of the cupboard. Good thing children’s washable finger paints are edible, eh? Now, many of you are probably now contemplating frying your own paint. Let me give you a few pointers to think about before you start:
- Go for a metal rather than a wooden spoon. The pigment will soak in and utterly refuse to budge again. If you are going to insist on using wood, try not to use your favourite and unique wooden spoon, whose absence will be noticed when you have to throw it away.
- Do not put the paint in with a metal teapoon. You will burn yourself.
- Do not fry the red paint first. No matter how thoroughly you wash that pan between batches, paint will continue to seep out from previous batches. Do not do your white paint last. On a similar thread, consider boiling a few batches of milk/water in the pan once you are done to draw the majority of the pigment out. Not everyone like to find their omelette suddenly and surprisingly colour itself.
- Do not put the hot paint straight back into those plastic containers. They melt.
- Do not be tempted to taste the paint to see if ‘edible’ means ‘tasty’. It doesn’t.
Did it work? Yes! Of course! How could you ever doubt me? It ended up a bit stringy and a bit rubbery but certainly very vibrant. Did I have enough to paint those 12 eggs? No. Removing the water reduced it rather a lot.
I could have bought and fried more paint, but I had already spent a not-inconsiderable amount of money on the project. This also meant that I wouldn’t give up now! The paint was set aside for embellishing purposes. Then, I had a brainwave.
Food colouring. We all know eggshells are porous, right? Well, you do now. It’s how the embryo breathes, or something. But if you boil eggs in food colouring, they change colour. It was a bit late for boiling, but the principle stands. I bought four bottles of food colouring; read, blue, green and black. 3 eggs per colour. What could go wrong?
I decided that the best chance I had was making a solution of each colour and soaking the eggs in it for a few hours. Having learnt from the low-pigment paint episode, I made the solutions very strong indeed. One litre of water, one bottle of food colouring. Enough to cover 3 eggs in a plastic beaker.
It only occurred to me quite late in the process that eggs with their entire* contents blown out float. This was not ideal. I got 4 side plates and weighed the eggs down in the 4 beakers of coloured water. They displaced a little more food colouring than I had anticipated, but I had had the foresight to put a bit of newspaper down. My bedroom is entirely white, after all. Wouldn’t want any spillages. Two eggs were unable to take the strain of being submerged by their fellow eggs, a plate and the full force of inspired frustration and shattered. 11 eggs soaked in 4 litres of water and 4 bottles of food colouring.
I left them 2 hours. Not much. I left them overnight. The red ones had changed colour slightly. The black food colouring turned out to be oilier than the rest, and required whisking up every couple of hours or so. I left them 24 hours.
Having so many beakers and plates taking up so much room on your rather small desk does make you realise what a mess your room is, doesn’t it? I was having repeated problems relocating my things and not falling over the growing piles on the floor, especially my large collection of notebooks which currently contain the most recent draft of The Novel. It was about time I did a bit of tidying.
Looking back now, balancing those notebooks on the curved top of those bookshelves was a bit of a silly thing to do. It was right over those 11 eggs, after all. I probably shouldn’t have had every single white drawer on that white chest those eggs stood on open, either. It was a full ten minutes before the notebooks came toppling down, when my body was no longer close at hand to take the brunt of the blast.
4 litres of water, 4 bottles of food colouring, 4 beakers, 4 plates, 7 notebooks and 11 eggs found themselves quite suddenly and quite messily liberated all (but not solely) over my white drawers, white bed, white walls, white door, white chair and a variety of electrical equipment. Well, not quite so white as they had been all of a sudden.
My first instinct was to hurl my two white towels onto the huge puddle pouring from the desk and right the beakers. One quickly moved to the advancing tide on the floor. It was then I noticed the walls, covered in that lovely porous paint, drinking the colour which was splattered across it. I ran to the kitchen to get Fairy liquid and a sponge, and scrubbed with all my might. The red was the worst. It seemed to stain everything yellow.
The towels were saturated in brilliant colours; quite beautiful, but now mainly transferring colour around the room rather than getting rid of it. They went in a plastic bag. I should have remembered that carrier bags have hole sin so children don’t suffocate, but even if I had there was nowhere sensible to put that bag but on the bed.
To this day I still don’t know what my landlady thought had suddenly happened to those 4 new rolls of toilet paper which disappeared that night. I mopped frantically. The sea had cascaded into those open drawers. The clothing casualties were numerous that night. I couldn’t move the cupboards out to get to the wall behind the incident, but did my best with a ruler and a handkerchief to get the majority of it out.
An hour on, I began to feel that I was taking control of the situation. The floor was clean, the drawers were as clean as they were likely to get given the porosity of untreated wood, the chair was down to just a few splashes in hard to clean places and I had saved all the electrical things. I went to wash my hands before another round of scrubbing when I first looked at the floor outside of my room.
Then I looked at my be-socked feet.
Then I remembered the first frantic dash for the Fairy liquid as that coloured tide advanced across the floor.
Then I was very glad that I still had not had a nerve-steadying drink, and could hurriedly drive to the supermarket and buy an enormous amount of carpet cleaner.
The tragic aftermath of the Great Explosion lasted for days. The towels were put on an intense wash cycle within two hours, but merely changed from being brilliantly daubed to being a homogeneous shade of blue-ish grey with occasional faded black splodges. They never recovered. More than 30 items of clothing were beyond repair. The notebooks escaped with merely coloured edges and soaking pages, by and large. I was very glad I’d been writing in pencil and not fountain pen for once. The electrical appliances had a tendency to smoke for the next few uses, but they calmed down after a while.
And the eggs? All smashed as they rocketed around my once-and-now-restored white room. The fragments were only marginally coloured. The fried paint still awaits use in its warped plastic containers. I bought some pre-made decorated eggs from a stationers; 54 for £3. I was going to superglue some sequins and things to them to make them more personal, but my friends stopped me. They seemed to think something would go wrong. But really, what’s the worst that can happen with just a bit of art and craft?
Topic: Personal Tags: art, disaster, inking it up, Personal