Saturday, March 29, 2014

I Love Cultural Stuff :)

I have always been interested in cultural things - all of the different traditions and crafts from around the world are amazing! I don't know where this interest really started, but I was exposed to folks from other countries periodically ever since I was a little girl. I've also always been interested in learning about my own family heritage and traditions. 

I recently asked an old friend (Helen) that is 100% Ukranian to show me how she makes her beautiful Pysanky eggs at Eastertime. An interesting process, indeed!  The egg, the designs and the dye all have very detailed, symbolic meanings.  Helen uses the wax resist method that she learned as a child, so I found out how difficult it is to 'write' a design with a line of hot wax.  Each layer of the design is 'written' in wax with a special tool (kistka), and whatever color is under the wax remains as it is placed in the next dye color.  This wax-relief method of coloring works in reverse of how you might paint layers of color.

In any case, it's very difficult to keep the wax lines nice and straight.  With some practice, there are some beautiful designs to be made!

Finding out we were using raw eggs was a little intimidating.  Some people blow the egg out, but Helen has always just used raw eggs brought to room temperature.  The egg eventually just dries up, and is, of course, sturdier to work on than a blown out egg shell.  She does not have many eggs left from over the years, because they do tend to break in storage sometimes.  Apparently dogs like to eat them as well (eeewww) so keeping them out of danger becomes a necessity.  The smell could be pretty awful, to say the least.  

Two layers of wax and dye at this point - one covering what will remain white, and one covering what will remain yellow.

Above is the egg (on the left below) after every color has been dyed.  I covered the large areas that were to remain red with wax, and it went into the black dye last.  After all the dyeing was complete, I held it over the flame on the stove to melt all the wax and wipe it off.  

I remember my mom making some very pretty Easter eggs by painting designs with melted crayon wax onto the eggs with a toothpick.  The colored wax was the design on the white eggs.  This was a process as you can imagine - the egg AND the melted wax had to be just the right temperature for everything to work properly. I'll have to ask her where she learned that and what country/culture that was from?

I accomplished making these two very basic Pysanky eggs in a few hours.  I don't think they turned out too bad for a first try :) 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Somewhere in Mexico . . .

. . . there's a Flowering Quatrain bookmark.
[Free pattern found HERE]

Very much like this one:

I was enjoying my break from this Minnesota winter on a beach in Mexico, when a vendor noticed me tatting and asked about it.  He was so interested, and wanted to see how it was done.  I showed him, and we chatted about it for a bit.  I told him if I had one finished, I would give it to him.  "You'll finish soon" he said, "I'll be back tomorrow"  [No pressure!] and off he went.

I did finish, but didn't see him the next day.  I left the bookmark with my aunt while I was off shopping for an afternoon, and sure enough, he stopped by to find me.  My aunt gave him the bookmark, and he was so thrilled by it!  He came back several times to say thanks, but I hadn't returned yet. He didn't work the following day, so I never did see him again.  

So, somewhere in Mazatlan is a Flowering Quatrain bookmark being thoroughly enjoyed by a local beach vendor.  Funny how tatting gets around!