I thought I’d explain a little about my favorite craft hobby, pysanky, aka Ukrainian eggs. My family is Slovak and Byzantine Catholic, and somehow the combination of both exposed me to the art at a young age. My grandmother’s cousin would give them away as gifts and raffle them off at church. I have always had an interest in art so when I saw a beginners class being offered at CCAC a few years ago, I signed up. I took over a year off during wedding planning, but I’ve started up again.
First I have to find fresh eggs. For white eggs, I prefer local farms rather than grocery store eggs, which tend to be chemically treated which makes the dye not adhere uniformly. I’ve used the brown organic cage free eggs from Giant Eagle with no problems. This is my new egg blower! I’m so excited. It used to take 2 holes, over 15 minutes, and a lot of cracked eggs with my old one. This one requires one hole and takes only a minute or two!
Next you use what is called a kistka. It is filled with wax which is used to write on the egg. These are tradtional kistkas which have to be heated over a candle, and the bees wax.
However, I mostly use an electric version. It keeps the wax at an even temperature which creates a much more even line. The first one I bought (on the top) has an extra fine tip, and a plastic handle which gets pretty hot to hold. The new one I got this week has 5 interchangeable tips. This will really open up what I can do on the egg. It also has a cork handle which should be much cooler.
To decorate the egg, you apply the wax where you want it to be white. Then you dye the whole egg the next color, which is yellow. Apply more wax where y ou want it to stay yellow. Next dye the egg orange, etc. The colors get darker as you go. I think I have 16 different colors. At the end, you end up with a mostly wax covered egg. I love finally heating the egg over a candle and wiping away the wax to display the finished product. Each one ususually takes me a few hours, depending on the detail. Lastly I coat it with a layer of varnish to make it shine. Here are some of my favorites!
The one on the bottom is a brown egg:
The black/red/white/orange/yellow eggs are the more traditional Ukrainian style. There is meaning to the symbols and colors used in the patterns but I don’t know what they are offhand. I just make what I think looks nice! The bottom egg in the first picture is a ‘wedding quilt’ pattern, which was my practice egg for one that I gave my cousin for her bridal shower.
For me, it’s a very relaxing and peaceful. It’s not difficult, just time consuming and it requires patience (espeically since I have shakey hands!) I’ve actually given a bunch of eggs away as gifts and I love to see the looks on people’s faces as they receive them.