The Egg and I - Part II
Apr. 7, 2009 3:50 pm
Updated: Apr. 8, 2009 2:19 pm
Thank you for waiting so patiently for this follow-up to my original post, The Egg and I. It's been a couple of years since I pulled out my pysanky supplies so I hope you'll forgive my rusty technique. But as promised, here's a basic tutorial for waxing and dyeing Ukrainian Easter eggs.
Start by hand-picking the smoothest white eggs you can find. I pore over the bulk egg display at my local co-op, which earns me lots of odd looks. But hey. You'll see why you want smooth eggs when the tiniest bumps make your pencil and kistka jump around.
- Clean, smooth raw eggs
- Beeswax (I use black so I can better see my design)
- Kistka (special tool with a small funnel tip, used to hold and draw melted beeswax onto the egg)
- Candle for heating the kistka
- Dyes (special aniline dyes that come with the pysanky kit are brighter and work faster than food dyes, but they make the eggs inedible)
- Paper towels for patting dry (not rubbing) dyed eggs
- Tissues for wiping off melted beeswax at the end of the process
- Ultra thin needle for making sure the kistka funnel doesn't get clogged
- Spray varnish (not water-soluble)
- Drying board (a 1-inch grid of thin nails in a small board comes in mighty handy)
- Egg blower (I prefer a bulb-type)
To prep an egg for waxing and dyeing, add 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 quart warm water and let the eggs sit in the bath until little bubbles form on the outside. Pat dry.
1. Lightly pencil a design on a clean, room temperature egg.
2. Melt beeswax in the kistka and cover the parts of your design you want to stay white.
3. Dip the egg in the lightest color (yellow in my design) and pat dry.
4. Cover the parts of your design you want to stay yellow.
5. Dip the egg in the next darker color (turquoise in my design) and pat dry.
6. Melt the wax off the egg to reveal the design.
7. Admire your egg!
To finish, spray your egg with at least two coats of varnish (make sure it's not water-soluble or the dye will run and you will be sad). Then carefully blow the white and yolk out of your egg. There are many devices to help you with this part.
You can find loads of books and websites that can help you with more detailed instructions and designs. My advice is to just get started and learn as you go. And share your new craft with a friend.
- Don't bother trying to erase pencil designs; just use a light hand and the pencil marks disappear by the end of the process
- Use only beeswax
- It's a good habit to draw a line on paper with your kistka before you draw on your egg to prevent accidental wax puddles
- When dyeing, go from lightest colors first to darkest last
- The length of the dye bath depends on how saturated you want your colors
- Aniline dyes will ruin your clothes and your kitchen towels! You've been warned
- Food service gloves are cheap and protect your hands from the dye
- It's good luck to give away your eggs
Please stay in touch and let me know how your pysanky comes along. Remember, even if it's too late to get started for this Easter, you'll be getting a huge head start on Christmas!
Pysanky: basic supplies
1. Design in progress
2. Waxing the white
3. After the yellow dye
4. Waxing the yellow
5. After the turquoise dye
6. Melting the wax coatings
7. Finished design