I tested out my brown dyes by mixing up batches of all the browns I owned, and dyeing in a consistent fashion: on small white chicken eggs, with a vinegar rinse and a first coat of yellow (UGS). The completed eggs were given a coat of polyurethane varnish. The results are shown below, a large range of browns, light and dark, with and without red tones.

Patty’s Pysanky Showcase dyes gave the nicest browns.  The Jacquard dyes (from Dharma) gave the strangest results: russet came out a lovely cherry red, and chestnut produced a gorgeous olive-green.

Both the Surma and UGS browns were very disappointing.  I suspect I may have gotten bad batches of the UGS dye, as I used to get lovely browns in the past.  Both have not been very stable, and seem to quit working long before they should. Recently, the UGS dyes seems to form a film on the egg rather than dyeing it properly.

The EggCessories dye was unremarkable, and the Ukrainian dye acceptable but unremarkable.

Vira Manko shared with me her difficulty finding a nice brown dye, too.  She says that, when she needs a darker brown, she sometimes will use an old jar of black dye instead.  Black, when it gets used up, will dye incompletely, and the dyed eggs will have a walnut appearance.....if you dye over red or orange.

I’ve also discovered that UGS Dark Red, when dyed over red or orange, produces a gorgeous deep mahogany color. It is my go-to substitute for reddish browns.  

The results of my brown dye tests are shown below.  They can give you an idea of the range of brown colors available for pysanky.  Keep in mind that the photos below are just that, photos, and may appear different depending upon your computer screen settings and angle.  You should use these photos to compare the colors.

It should also be noted that dye colors varies with the quality of the shell, age of the dye, mineral content of the water, and the previous colors it is covering.  (If you are removing colors from the egg, that could affect dye adhesion as well).

    Surma “Brown”

    Light, didn’t take very well.

    Surma “Trypillian Brown”

    More robust color, similar to the UGS “Brick”

    UGS “Brown”

    Odd, muddy color.  Might have looked better after orange.     

    Poor adhesion.

    UGS “Brick”

   Nice reddish brown dye.

    EggCessories “Brown”

    Nice color, but a very light,orangey brown rather

    than a deep, rich one.

    Pysanky Showcase “Golden Brown”

    Nice light brown, fewer orange tones than others.


    Pysanky Showcase “Light Brown”

    A nice, solid darker brown.

    Pysanky Showcase “Dark Brown”

    A deep brown, mahogany, almost black

    Jacquard “Brown”

    Very light brown, almost a dark beige.

    Jacquard “Chestnut”

    A lovely olive green; might be more of a brown if applied

    after orange.

    Jacquard “Russet”

   Not brown at all, but a beautiful cherry color.

    Ukrainian “Light Brown”

   Similar to Trypillian browns, very orangey.

  Purple        Black

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Brown Dyes