Pysanky!

A late post about Easter – Ukrainian style:

The girls and I got together a few weeks ago to make pysanky – ie. Ukrainian Easter eggs. The premise is simple: take a raw egg, cover it in strategically placed beeswax, and dye it in successive colours. The result? An awesome keepsake.

Pysanky is made by melting beeswax through a tool known as a kistka (there are some pretty fancy ones out there now but I just have the classic wooden style with the copper on the end. Wherever you draw the wax onto the egg, dye won’t pass through. So it’s a process of “protecting” whatever colour is underneath the wax as you’re going – and then dropping the egg into progressively darker colours of dye (middle left) until you’re finished. Then comes the best part: melting the wax off the egg to reveal the patterns you’ve created (middle right)!

There is a lot of tradition around pysanky: from how to make the dyes, to the colours used and their meanings, to the designs and symbols placed on the egg itself. This is one aspect of the practice that I’m much less familiar with at this stage – I was taught to buy my little package of dye at the Ukrainian store downtown and mix it with boiling water and vinegar in a mason jar to be re-used year after year. I have a book that shows different designs from all the different regions in the Ukraine, but I mostly select the ones that look most interesting to me at the time…..

And then there are times that I just want to “play” and completely forget about any traditions. The egg pictured at the bottom here was made for T to put on his desk – I covered the whole egg in wax except a small moustache portion to preserve the white of the eggshell (bottom left) and then dyed it in blue. Removing the wax took ages but I was pretty happy with how it turns out (bottom right).


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