Make Sugar and String Crystal Easter Eggs

Easter egg decorations
You can crystallize sugar onto string to make extra-special Easter eggs. Anne Helmenstine

Sugar and string Easter egg ornaments are a fun family craft idea, plus you can include a lot of science in this project. You can make smaller hollow string ornaments to hang or put in baskets or you can make a large crystal egg to use as an Easter basket.

Sugar and String Easter Egg Materials

There are a few different ways to do this project. You can make either small eggs or very large eggs. Large eggs require multiple layers of sugar in order to support their size. Small eggs can be made such that they are open, revealing the abstract-looking string pattern. If you are concerned that the sugar will attract ants, there are two ways to avoid this problem. One is to spray the completed project with clear spray paint. The other is to change the ingredients altogether, using a mixture of spray starch or glue and water instead of sugar with egg whites or water. If you use glue instead of sugar your project will not be as stiff or sparkly, plus you won't get crystals.

  • Balloons: Use very small balloons if you want to make small eggs that you can put into Easter baskets or hang as ornaments. Use larger balloons if you want to use the egg as an Easter basket or as a larger decoration
  • String: You can use any type of string that you want, such as embroidery floss, thread, yarn, or even ribbon.
  • Sugar: Normal white sugar (sucrose) produces the most sparkle and largest crystals. You can use confectioners or powdered sugar.
  • Egg whites or water: Egg whites contain water plus the protein albumin. The albumin helps you get a stiffer, glossier Easter egg, but you can use water instead with comparable results.
  • Scissors: (optional)

Make the Easter Egg

The basic instructions are to blow up the balloon until it is the size you want for your Easter egg. Next, make the balloon sticky by coating it with sugar-water. Wrap string around and around the balloon until you have enough string to support the shape (more is better). Allow the string to dry. Apply more layers of sugar, allowing the balloon to dry between layers. Carefully pop the balloon and remove it. Use the sugar-string Easter egg as it is or else cut a hole in it using scissors.

Here are detailed instructions for the Easter egg that has larger sugar crystals and can be used as an Easter basket.

  1. Mix together three egg whites and as much sugar as it takes (about 3 cups powdered sugar, somewhat less granulated sugar) to make a glaze that is thick enough to spread, but will not drip. Add food coloring if you wish. The consistency is important. If the glaze drips, the egg will take a very long time to dry and won't be as thick and strong. The amount of sugar that will dissolve in the egg white (solubility) is highly dependent on temperature. Much more sugar will dissolve in room temperature egg whites than in cold egg whites.
  2. Blow up a balloon to the desired size. Tie it off with a knot. Tie a string around the knot. You will use this string to hang the balloon while it dries.
  3. Coat the balloon with the sugar and egg white mixture.
  4. Wrap the balloon with string. It may help to use several smaller lengths of string than to wrap one long piece.
  5. Hang the balloon and allow the string to dry.
  6. Coat the balloon with the sugar and egg white mixture. Fill in the gaps between the strings and try to get even coverage.
  7. You may want to add more coats of sugar. For your final coat, one option is to sprinkle very coarse sugar onto the wet mixture. This will result in a very sparkly egg.
  8. When you are satisfied with the thickness of the egg, allow 24 hours for the egg to completely harden. Pierce the balloon so that it slowly deflates. Your goal is to carefully remove the balloon from the inside of the egg. The crystallization that you get will depend on how well the sugar had dissolved in the egg white and the rate of evaporation.
  9. You can use scissors to cut a hole in the egg. The cut edge of the egg may be covered with ribbon or frosting or whatever you like.

Open String Eggs

Another option is to make an egg that is simply stiffened string. This is a much simpler and quicker project. The egg must be relatively small since the egg's shape is maintained by hardening thread or yarn with sugar. You could use the glaze described in this version of the project on the larger egg in order to make translucent glass windows in the thicker egg, but you will need to apply several coats of glaze.

  1. Blow up a balloon to make a small egg.
  2. Heat a little water until it boils. Remove the water from heat. Stir in sugar until no more will dissolve. If you don't have enough sugar in this solution, your egg will not harden, so it's better to add sugar until crystals start to settle out. If you aren't using colored string, you may wish to add food coloring to the sugar solution.
  3. Dampen the balloon with the sugar solution. Don't burn yourself! You can let the liquid cool down a bit.
  4. Wrap the balloon with string. Use enough string to provide adequate support for the shape.
  5. Either dip the Easter egg in the solution or else drip solution over the egg to make certain the string is thoroughly saturated with sugar solution.
  6. Suspend the egg from another string until the egg is dry.
  7. Carefully pop the balloon and remove it.
  8. Enjoy your Easter egg! After the holiday, you can save the egg for next year by wrapping it in tissue paper and storing it in a dry location.