Friday, April 09, 2004

How to Paint Snake Eggs

You don't, actually. Snake eggs are soft and look more like pebbles or shopping bags than bird eggs. Baby snakes are born with a special tooth for cutting their way out of the egg, and they are very good at self-defense from the moment of birth, so if you plan to go looking for some snake eggs to paint this Easter, plan again. In any case, most snakes in colder climates give birth to live babies.

But you can paint bird eggs, and almost anything will work on this media, even a pencil if you have nothing better. The simplest way to color eggs is to boil them in water with some onion skins added. You get lovely brown eggs that way. But water colors or acrylics work nicely, too, and you can even gild an egg. If you plan to eat the eggs, boil them before painting them. If you don't care about eating them, the eggs stay nicer if you empty them first. Make a hole in each narrow end of the egg, one very small, the other just slightly bigger, and blow in through the smaller hole. The theory is that the white and yolk will come out of the bigger hole. Sometimes this even works. You can then use these holes to put a string through the egg. Then you can hang the egg on a tree branch in your front yard. Or even several eggs.

You could even write important political slogans on the eggs and hang them somewhere where they would annoy politicians and other people your slogans attack.

I'm not going to paint any eggs this spring, but I do have lots of spider eggs in the basement, carefully guarded against the snakes. The baby spiders will be born any day now! I give them names when they are born, and then send them off to fight the good fight in the garden. Some types of spiders carry their eggs with them. They always remind me of harassed shoppers, desperately looking for one more thing while dragging all the other parcel with them. I wonder what happens to them in the winter, the spiders I mean. I suspect that the mother spider dies (having probably eaten the father spider after some satisfactory sex), and that leaves the eggs in charge of my basement. Nature can be very cruel, too.

But that's hard to remember in the spring.