Ukrainian Egg Painting©
By Arlene Wright-Correll
This past week I
read how my Pen Pal Leonie, in Australia, had a miserable failure
coloring her Easter eggs with a wax process.
Well, the Calvary has arrived, Leonie.
I decorate eggs using the Ukrainian Egg Painting method.
Now this is a lot of work, dear heart, so if you intend to do an
egg, think twice or 102 times about doing it just to look nice, then
crack off the shell and eat the egg!
Egg Painting is called, “Pysanky”.
The Ukrainian folk art of egg decorating which follows at
tradition over 2000 years old. In
the craft, the artist begins with a raw white egg, symbol of life and
rebirth. Using heated
beeswax, designs are drawn onto the shell, and the egg is placed in a
series of dye baths. The
design is progressive with additions after each dye color.
When the design is completed, the wax is removed, polyurethane
protection is added, and the raw egg is blown from the shell.
egg can take many hours to complete and is a treasure for years to come.
Egg symbols and colors have special meanings.
denotes youth, happiness, love.
blue denotes sky with it’s life-giving air and good health.
indicates sun, happiness in life, hope and passion.
is for the everlasting sun.
represents mother earth bringing forth her bounty.
green denotes breaking of shackles and freedom of bondage.
red represents harvest, gathering fruit in the fall.
is for faith, patience and trust.
following symbol picture is from my first class and I am sharing it with
you need to protect your worktable with a few layers of newspapers. Keep
some paper towel sheets in a small stack nearby.
Make sure you have a good light source so your eggs are not in
shopping for eggs suitable for Pysanky, the best source is to get
unwashed eggs directly from an egg farm. Let just laid eggs stand 4 or 5
days before decorating. If
you buy your eggs from the store, they may not take the dye because they
are washed in strong solutions. What
I do is get my eggs from the super market and let them stand for 3 hours
in a solution of 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and one quart of tepid
water. Do not use jumbo or extra large eggs as they tend to have weaker
on eggs that are room temperature.
people blow their eggs prior to working on them. I prefer to complete
the egg and then blow out the egg.
tools needed are quite simple and inexpensive.
The one tool is called a Kistky.
I originally learned this craft with a brass kistka and I
personally prefer the electric Kistky. The diagrams below are from my first class and I am sharing
them with you so you know what they look like.
seals the color of the surface it covers.
Pure beeswax is the only type of wax used in this egg dying
process. Regular light beeswax is used with kistky, which are heated
in the candle flame. This
wax will gradually turn black from the carbon in the flame. I buy
darkened beeswax, which I use in the electric kistky with the
interchangeable tips, as it is needed to see the design and areas being
filled in. One of the last steps in decorating Pysanky is to remove the
wax, which allows the colors beneath it to reappear.
one is not using an electric kistky, then a candle in a secure holder is
need to heat the traditional or brass kistky.
Never use candle wax to decorate the egg.
number 2 or 3 pencil is used when dividing the egg at the beginning.
These pencil lines will not show on the egg providing you have
drawn them lightly. Do not erase your lines as the dye will not take to
the shell in that area.
stainless steel spoons for dipping the eggs in and out of the dye.
I use a little Chinese wire egg “catcher/dipper” that is used
in Manchurian Firepots and can be found in an oriental market for under
Q-tip or a small paintbrush is used to add dye to small areas.
paper towels are used to pat the eggs dry when they come out of the dye. The longer you leave the egg in the dye, the darker the color
vinegar is added to most of the dyes to keep them strong.
adds protection and luster and a clear fast, drying glossy varnish or
polyurethane wood finish is what I use.
Do not use water-soluble varnish as it causes the dyes to run.
keep waterless hand cleaner on hand to remove the varnish from my hands.
have a drying rack, which is a small board with thin brad-like nails
that hold up to 15 eggs. Some people use this for melting the wax off in
the oven. I like the quicker “hands-on” method of holding my
completed egg over a small Bunsen burner or small hand propane torch.
Just be careful not to burn your fingers.
One can buy
an egg lathe to hold the egg. I do not own one. I just hold the egg in
my left hand and work the design with my right.
following steps are basically easy. Take your dry, clean egg and lay out
your lines with light pencil marks. These will allow you to draw in your
||I do use an egg blower as blowing out the eggs gives me a tremendous head rush and that is something I do not need in my old age.|
thing I do is to take my clean, dry egg and make the following grids so
I can draw in my design. Just
follow the diagrams in the order of 1 through 4.
Again these diagrams were given to me by my
instructor to use again and again.
You will find similar diagrams in about any book you buy on
Pysanky or Ukrainian Egg Painting. I will share mine with you.
to keep you pencil lines light!
be nervous about your lines.
All it takes is practice. When you get to do many of them you will see
yourself getting better and better.
||Soon you will have
professionally looking eggs.
is basically a very easy thing to do. It just takes practice.
I learned how to do this the in 1998 while wintering in Vero
Beach FL. I took a $12.00
class at the public library and learned in one day!
The instructor said he had done a couple of
thousand over the years. He
supplied us with one egg and several photo copies of diagrams which I am
|The first egg I did was not the greatest, but passable. Matter of fact I still have the first one. However I practiced doing one a day for months. I bought so many eggs that winter it was amazing. After that I would do 1 or 2 a month. Many of them I put in the garbage pail. Many of them became good enough to give away as gifts after awhile. By the year 2000 they started to look like this.||
you have your grid done, you can start sketching in your design and you
can buy a book from the Ukrainian Gift Shop in Minneapolis, MN. Or go to
your public library. This
egg I made is called the Trypillian and the white was done with a medium
and fine kistky covering the egg with beeswax. . One can change the ends
of the kistky. The brick
color was done with a heavy and medium kistky, covering the egg with
beeswax and then dipping it into that color dye and black was put on for
the final color. Then I held it over my small propane tank flame and let the
wax melt so I could wipe it off as it melted, thus allowing the colors
to show through. Then I blew the egg out and finally I sealed it with
the varnish or polyurethane.
Trypillian eggs are from an ancient tribe of
people that lived and thrived in the area of the Ukraine 6000 years ago.
Pieces of their pottery were found near the little city of
Trypillia only 40 miles from Kiev. The pottery designs adapt beautifully to the egg. Designs are
of 3 colors. White, Black
and Clay Red (brick). The
designs are spirals and meanders which signify eternity and the cycle of
are a few of the many eggs I did in the year 2000.
quite good at
reproducing them. The
traditional designs are still my most favorite.
After awhile I
discovered I could do my own designs and pictures.
I was making Christmas ornaments with my grandchildren’s names
and the date on them. One
year I made up some for all the tellers at my local bank.
For my children I made up a dozen each and they loved them.
I hope this helps
you Leonie. This is a
satisfying hobby and can be done in the evening or anytime.
It takes very little time except for the jars of dye. I have
about 12 or 15 jars of colors now, so it is not something I can take
with me. I have to do this at home.
Just email me with
any questions and if you are in the area, just stop in and say hello.
“Tread the Earth
Lightly” and in the
meantime… may your day be filled with….Peace, light and love,
“ONE-TIME” publishing rights
), free lance writer, award winning artist and avid gardener is
mother of 5 and the grandmother of 8.
For almost 40 years she was an International real estate
consultant and during the last 20 years of her career traveled to many
parts of the world. She
has been a cancer and stroke survivor since 1992.
While working and raising her children she had many hobbies
including being a very serious home-vintner for approximately 14 years
while residing in upstate New York in St. Lawrence County producing
2,000 to 3,000 bottles of wine a year.
She was the president of the St. Lawrence County chapter of the
American Wine Society in Potsdam
"Tread the Earth Lightly" & in the meantime
may your day be filled with...
Peace, Light, and Love,
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