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 :) 


  1. You're taking me down memory lane! I did this back in the 1970s, and decided it was much too labor intensive! I am proud of my 'best' egg, which I showed on my blog post of April 8, 2012. It took me 12 hours to do it! I keep it in a very protected place, because indeed the smell is quite awful if broken. Fortunately one of my simple designs is the one that broke! I certainly admire the expertise of those who do such intricate work! You're off to a great start! I always wanted to try using the electric wax drawing tool!

    1. Your "best egg" is beautiful! Helen mentioned the electric tool, though we used the regular kistkas. Like you, I think it's too labor intensive to continue this hobby ;)

  2. Those are beautiful and that is something I have always wanted to learn. Lucky you to have a great teacher!

  3. Wow, fantastic! I've tried these too but nothing so wonderful as what you'vemdone!

  4. Beautiful eggs, I love the black one, so many traditions around the world you have done a great job with these eggs.

  5. I have long admired Pysanky eggs, and I even went as far as to buy a kit. However, that's as far as I went. Your eggs are beautiful! Now that I know how long it takes, I think I'll just keep tatting. ;-)

  6. Really interesting! It's good to learn something new and learn about other cultures.

  7. Those eggs are very pretty.

  8. Your eggs are truly a work of love for this art. They are beautiful!!! Thanks for sharing them with us.


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