Sunday, April 08, 2007

How to Create Ukrainian Easter Eggs


Robb and I have been hosting a somewhat annual Ukrainian Easter Egg decorating party for a number of years. Last year, this just wasn't possible. Robb was newly home from the hospital, and his stamina was terribly limited. Plus, I just wasn't up for the challenge of organizing this party, single-handedly. But this year, we decided that we were ready to throw a low-key version of this party. And this year, I had made a friend who also threw an annual pysanky party, and who kindly brought supplies, and co-taught the process. This was fun, because while Jen and I both have a lot of experience with this technique, our approaches are very different. Thanks so much, Jen and Paul!

While this is an excuse to learn a new art technique, I'm glad that nobody took themselves very seriously!

Jen provided the dyes, and actually made "sample" eggs to demonstrate the colors the eggs turn in each of the dyes. That Jen! She's way, way more organized than am I! We had a dedicated dye table, and as you can see, moving the party to Berkeley Rep's Scenic Studios was a great idea. In the past, I always had to worry about the intersection of three curious pussycats, dye and open flame in my living room. In the paint shop, a mess is expected, and nobody stresses if something gets spilled.

The basic concept behind pysanky is the fact that melted beeswax is a great barrier to dyes. You apply molten wax with a special stylus, and the color under the wax is encapsulated by the wax. Kristen and Sheri are drawing with wax.

Here, Kristen is dunking her egg in another color of dye. As you can see, she has already done a lot of the decoration. Pysanky is all about layering colors.

At the end of all the waxing and dyeing, the wax is melted off, revealing a beautiful egg. In this case, Sheri started with a brown egg, drew her design in wax and only used one color of dye over that wax. Her egg is both simple in terms of color and beautifully elaborate.

Barbara created an egg for the King of the Birds.

Kara explored the kinds of marks the stylus would make.

Hunter created a scene from the Garden of Eden.

Kristen found a couple of eggs in the fridge at the intern house that were four months past their expiration date (eeeeek!). Her exuberant design incorporated the indelible date-stamp, which I found particularly hilarious. (Can you see the hot-pink text?)

Robb expended a lot of energy, helping me set up the party, so he spent a fair amount of time hanging out on the couch in the shop's break room. I was too busy flitting around and teaching to finish any eggs. I made one, and then managed to throw it on the floor, smashing it with a resounding crack. And we hardly set anything on fire, at all this year.

I think this year's Egg - Stravaganza was a real success.


Jenni P McD said...

YEA! Thanks for the info. The eggs are beautiful. Now to go try it myself.

Anonymous said...

lovely eggs. sounds like a great way to pass an afternoon. Congrats on the driving Robb!!
We got a foot of snow here overnight! Easter? Where did the bunny leave the eggs?
She in NS

Lynne said...

fabulous! i wish i had been there!

Jennifer said...

wow, these are really spectacular!

Wish we could have made it - cole was napping, and we decided hot molten wax + flame + egg shells + 2 year old = not a very good idea.

we did dye eggs with a 'marbleing' kit that had oil in it, so we did end up with some layered colors! would have been brighter on white eggs, rather than the brown we had at home. oh well!

dorks anonymous said...

It was a most wonderful afternoon and evening! Thank you for the charming company and opportunity to make some eggs without the ridiculous production of making more than four eggs. Hasta!

Anonymous said...

Oh boy was this ever fun--Thank you so much for introducing me to another inky-fingered addiction!

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this and even more surprised at how amazing the results were. Out of necessity, I usually am more "process oriented" in my crafting endeavors (if you get my drift...) but these had RESULTS that knocked my socks off!

Anyway, thanks to all for a lovely, lovely time-- it was such wonderful fun--

Inky Anna

lli said...

Those are gorgeous! I have two dozen blown out eggs that are waiting for a spring when I'm not engaged in multiple projects. I'll need to return to this post next year!

Eclipse said...

Kate and I had a great time - thank you so much for hosting. We really enjoyed learning how to do this - so much so that I want to do more of it! The last thing I need is another hobby. :)

The space was great, the snacks were great, and the company was excellent above all. Let's craft together again soon!

Shelley said...

Lisa and Robb, looks like a great time was had. Sorry I had to miss it. Lond drive from Sacramento.. thanks for the invite though


Anonymous said...

Ooooooh, setting things on fire..., one of my hobbies.

Just joking!



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