Ukrainian Egg Decorating
Ukrainian Egg Decorating, Pysanky, Pysanka…it’s called a number of things and it is so much fun!
Pysanka is a Ukrainian Easter Egg decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs using a batik – wax resist – method. The plural of Pysanka is Pysanky.
I’ve been doing a lesson in my classroom for a number of years on this art form, focusing on the meanings of the symbols and colors. It is a drawing project, as the original art form would be hard to teach in an elementary art classroom with a large number of students.
My daughters and I recently discovered the actual techniques in this art form and have been making wonderful creations ever since my order of supplies arrived.
First, you have to start with a clean egg and wipe it down with a 50/50 mix of water/vinegar- then dry. I used eggs from my chickens so we had a variety of colored eggs to use – white, light brown, brown and green!
Then draw a simple design on your egg with pencil. We found that if you make a mistake, rather than using an eraser, that could leave residue, we wiped our mistake away with our water/vinegar mix.
After drawing on the egg it is time to apply wax to the areas that you want to stay the color of the egg. Using a Kistka tool, wax is easily applied by heating up the wax and it flows nicely through the tool to make great lines.
It is important to put only the tip of the Kistka in the flame of the candle – if you notice the ends of mine are burnt – thanks to my daughter! No big deal – flame gets blown out easily and tool is not destroyed.
After wax is applied to all of the areas that you want to keep the color of the egg, the egg is put into dye. Make sure to use dye that is especially made for this process – colors are much more vibrant than dye used for child egg decorating.
It’s important to start with light colors first, I started with yellow. You can leave egg in dye for about 2 minutes or more if you want.
After your egg is dry – you can help this along, by blotting with a paper towel if you want – you then apply wax to the areas you want to keep yellow.
Then I dipped mine in orange dye.
Added more wax where I wanted to keep the color orange.
Put my egg in red dye.
Added more wax where I wanted to keep the red color.
The traditional ending color for a Pysanky egg is black, so I put my egg in the black last. This really makes your design stand out!
When the egg is dry, it is time to remove the wax. The recommended way to remove the wax is to put the egg near the flame of the candle to soften the wax and then wipe off the wax with a towel. This didn’t work well for us, my girls had trouble holding the egg without getting to close to the flame which caused a little burning on their egg design. We found that scraping the wax off with our fingernails worked best! We were able to get all of the wax off easily.
After removing the wax, I sprayed our eggs with clear acrylic spray to give a gloss finish to the egg and protect the dye and make the egg stronger. Make sure to spray outside of the house – needs to be in a well-ventilated area!
When the acrylic finish is dry – one option for the egg is to leave the egg as is – the insides will dry up in a few months – just be sure to not put in the sun – or you could end up with a stinky disaster!
Another option is to blow out the egg – we chose this option, because you can hang the egg afterwards.
I bought a kit for this – I didn’t really want to be blowing on eggs all day. The kit was well worth the money. I always thought blowing out eggs would be a complete mess, but it was relatively a clean process and I didn’t break or crack a single egg.
You start by creating a hole in the bottom of the egg with a grinding tip tool. This starts out slow, but pretty soon you break through the egg and just grind the hole bigger.
Cleaning out the egg is fun – first you take an open paper clip and break the yolk.
Then the first bottle in the kits takes out the insides, by blowing air into the egg forcing the insides out the hole.
The second bottle cleans out the egg with water.
Then you can use the first bottle again to get out the rest of the water.
Then, if you want to hang your egg – grind another hole into the top end of the egg.
Simple and fun!
I made a tassel with a long string and fed the string through the egg with a piece of wire – tied – and done!
We now have a small collection of precious Ukrainian Eggs, to keep forever – so much more rewarding than the Easter eggs we’ve dyed previous years!
My oldest daughter’s eggs
And my youngest daughter’s eggs