Pysanky - Ukrainian Easter Eggs

These are a traditional craft in Ukraine, with a history of thousands of years. The method is similar to batik - patterns are drawn on the egg with wax, which then protects the covered areas from the dye that is applied. By repeating this process with different colors of dye, a multi-colored pattern is built up. Finally, the wax is removed to reveal the colors that were covered up at each stage. The symbols and colors used are rich in meaning; many pre-date the arrival of Christianity, and have had Christian interpretations layered on afterward.

This (1996) is the third year in a row that I've done pysanky. Before that, the last time was about twenty years ago. This past year we got electric kistky and analine dyes from a little mail-order shop in Minnesota. Up till then, we had been using PAAS and RIT dyes, and artists' ink-pens heated in the flame of a candle. The PAAS dyes are far too weak, and have no black. Also, my father (who has been taking lessons from a 90-year-old Ukrainian lady - his eggs are unbelievable!) gave us some hints about carefully measuring things beforehand, and marking some guidelines with a pencil. Before that, we did everything completely free-hand. Those three changes have made a *huge* difference. I don't know what more we can do next year, aside from practice, practice, practice. :-)

Okay, 1997 and 1998 went by, and although I made a few pysanky, I didn't have enough time to make more than a few, and had no time to digitize pictures or anything. Don't worry, you didn't miss much; my eggs did not improve so much this time.

My own eggs! (and some of my friends' too)

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Bill Yakowenko,,       20-Mar-98