The Egg And I - Apron Diaries Blog at - 84226

Apron Diaries

The Egg and I 
Mar. 22, 2009 9:21 pm 
Updated: Sep. 4, 2009 11:42 am
A few years ago a dear friend taught me how to wax and dye Ukrainian Easter eggs, and being a couple of obsessive crafters with lots of time on our hands, we settled down to make dozens and dozens of eggs. The basic idea is to draw a design on a raw egg with melted beeswax and dip the egg in dye. Then you wax over the color you want to keep and dip the egg in another color. And so on. Finally, you melt off all the wax to reveal the finished design, shellac the egg to preserve the colors, then cross your fingers and blow out the insides.

This ancient folk art had been passed down through generations of Eastern European women, from mother to daughter, and now my friend was sharing it with me because someone had shared it with her. And now I'm sharing it with you.

In the Ukraine, the eggs themselves are called pysanky and they're turned out by the dozens for Easter, to be given away to close family and friends. If my friend and I had been brought up there, we would have begun learning how to make pysanky when we were very young, and we would have learned all about the symbolism behind the designs and the colors.

We would have added our pysanky to the cache of eggs made by the women in our families during Lent, and over the years we would have perfected our skills. And in turn we would have taught our own daughters how to wax and dye these intricate, ancient designs on fragile hens' eggs.

But my friend and I came to this in our adulthood so our eggs reflected our untrained hands, and the patterns and colors we used were informed by personal preference rather than ancient symbolism. And we made up our own patterns, too. We even broke free of the Easter connection and made Christmas-themed pysanky as gifts. Well, at least we still held to the gifting part of the tradition.

Still the bond between woman and girl, ancient tradition and modern crafting, was renewed again and again as we sat together chatting, drawing, waxing, dyeing, and on and on to that breathless moment when we would extrude the raw yolk and white, hoping our eggs would not shatter from the pressure of our expectations.

Easter eggs, ancient and modern, symbolize rebirth and renewal. How fitting it will be when I sit down again this year to make a few eggs and remember my friend, who lost her battle with breast cancer last year. But I'll hear her voice and her laughter in my head. And I'll try not to crack my eggs.

Do you have Easter crafting traditions? I'd love to hear all about them. Please drop me a line and share your stories.

I've posted a step-by-step photo tutorial on my next blog post, The Egg and I - part II.
Pysanky tools: a kitska and a lump of beeswax.
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Ukrainian Easter eggs aka pysanky.
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Assortment of pysanky, some better than others, all made in friendship and love.
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Mar. 22, 2009 10:55 pm
I don't have an Easter crafting tradition. Or any crafting, traditional or otherwise. Your eggs are SO cool. I'm far too impatient to learn anything like that - but I love to look at what other people can do. Awesome. Thanks. :)
Mar. 23, 2009 12:27 am
The eggs are beautiful. I'm sorry to hear of the passing of your dear friend. Perhaps she will be with you in spirit and give you inspiration and a gentle hand.
Mar. 23, 2009 4:47 am
i'm sorry for your loss, the eggs are beautiful, you have a great talent! I'm with sunnybryd, I don't have the patience, wish I did, It's plastic eggs for me:(
Mar. 23, 2009 6:06 am
So sorry about the loss of your friend. What a beautiful way to remember her though - those eggs are breathtaking! Since my current craft partner is an almost 4 year old, we're doing the old Paas dipped eggs, but I would love to try this with her when she gets older! There's some Eastern European in my hubby's side of the family, so that would be a nice connection! Thanks so much for sharing!
Mar. 23, 2009 8:03 am
So sorry about your friend. This reminds me of batik (SP), I use to batik everything I could get my hands on..when I was a hippy! I would love to try this..but it looks really hard! They are so beautiful!
Mar. 23, 2009 8:23 am
Having tried to make pysanky many years ago with limited success, I have a real appreciation for the talent and skill required to produce these beautiful and intricate eggs. Your pysanky are BEAUTIFUL! I'm sorry you no longer have your friend to make them with you, but your carrying on the tradition will be an ongoing memorial for her. Do you have someone else you could teach how to make them, because it's a craft that should be passed on. I hope you will post pictures of the ones you make this year.
Mar. 23, 2009 11:57 am
Thank you for sharing your story & craft. I'm sorry you won't have your friend in body, but am glad you know she'll be with you in other ways. The eggs are beautiful. I hope you'll share what you've learned with other women & girls, too. (I'd like to learn!) Like michelle, the process reminded me of batik also. What dyes do you use? Perhaps I'll try, using my Indonesian batik tools that have little metal cups to hold the wax, & spouts of varying widths to "draw" with.
Mar. 23, 2009 12:08 pm
Mar. 23, 2009 1:25 pm
Mar. 23, 2009 3:28 pm
Oh my God. Those are so beautiful! How long does it take you to make, say, a three-colored egg?
Mar. 23, 2009 4:12 pm
Thank you all so much for your kind and enthusiastic words. I do miss my friend so much. She made the egg with the green leaves on the black background. And you're right...making pysanky, and especially teaching others how to make them, will be a positive, creative way to honor my friend's memory. You would have loved her! She was one of the kindest and funniest women! Sometimes she would have us laughing so hard, our wax lines would go every which way. But instead of wasting an egg, we would improvise on the design and go from there. I'm thinking of posting a step-by-step how-to next. What do you think?
Mar. 23, 2009 11:19 pm
I think you should post a how-to. They are absolutely beautiful! ♥
Mar. 24, 2009 8:53 pm
Your eggs are so beautiful. I am so sorry about your friend but I am sure she is with you in every egg that you create. Thanks so much for sharing with us.
Mar. 25, 2009 11:57 am
I'd LOVE to learn your pysanky!! Please do it!
Mar. 25, 2009 11:59 am
Before Easter would be most appreciated, by many! You'll probably have the most read blog! Please tell everyone on the regular Exchange when you do. ~Thanks!
Mar. 26, 2009 7:03 am
Lovely words and lovely art. A "how-to" would be fantastic!
Mar. 26, 2009 9:08 am
Wow! This is amazing. TFS the story behind it. Your dear friend has not gone but is with you every day of your life. Think of her as your Guardian Angel, sent here to look after you and when God felt her job was completed on this earth, He took her to Heaven to guide you and the others in her life whom she cared so much for. This was so touching and your craft so beautiful, I think I will share it with my friends.
Mar. 26, 2009 9:53 am
Pysanky eggs are a wonderful tradition. I often made them with my children. This tradition started when I was the education coordinator for a museum, Glanmore House in Belleville, Ontario Canada. I had an expert come and teach the visiting school children how to make them. We never blew the yolk out of the eggs. It's not necessary because the inside of the egg will totally dry out after 2 or 3 years. I still have some of the eggs my children created and that was about 20 years ago. Just make sure you store them in a safe place for viewing so that they don't get broken or you will have an awful stink bomb on your hands. Soon I will be able to continue the tradition of making pysanky eggs with my grandchildren. I'll have to wait a few more years because they are only 4 and 5. I recommend starting at age 8 or 9.
Mar. 26, 2009 11:09 am
Hey Everyone, thank you again for dropping in. Due to popular demand, I WILL be posting a how-to. But here's the thing: I'll be out of town from now until next Friday. So that's the soonest I can pull out my pysanky supplies. Check back after that and I promise to make and post photos of each step, from drawing to waxing to dyeing. Okay? Until then, you can check out the pysanky kit I work with (I like the $25 dollar kit on this page): Again, thanks for all your kind words about my dear friend, and please check back for pysanky part II. Cheers!
Mar. 26, 2009 12:08 pm
What lovely eggs! They do them here in Serbia, as well, but unfortunately, the art is almost dead. Our neighbor still does them and I should take the time to have her show me. The colors are so vibrant! We dye our easter eggs here the natural way; with yellow onion skins. They are gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing with the rest of us your story. :)
Mar. 27, 2009 6:06 pm
Those eggs are indeed beautiful! Here's an instructional site for those who can't wait. Caveat emptor, I have not tried her method.
Mar. 30, 2009 8:33 pm
beautiful pysanky! i do pysanky too!! i only got a kit this year though so i only have a few eggs done so far.
Apr. 1, 2009 4:54 am
thanks a lot for sharing your story and your eggs. My family tradition with eggs is that we hard boil them and then with pastels color them so that everyone has his/her own to eat with salads on the Easter table. It's crude in comparison with what you do, but the kids love this task and have always the most wondeful ideas. This year when we do it I shall think of you and your friend. xx
Apr. 24, 2009 9:17 am
These are amazing!!!
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