Happy Easter weekend!
Earlier this week, we had a Ukrainian Egg Decorating workshop at work. We invited a former student, Megan, who actually sells her eggs to demonstrate and lead the workshop.
I’ve never seen our students so enthused.
I literally had to kick them out after almost three hours. (Normally, our events are about an hour.) It was awesome.
I’ve also found that Ukrainian egg decorating, or pysanky, is a much more engaging version of the regular Easter egg dying I did growing up. It’s pretty in-depth, so it was nice having Megan demonstrate.
I’ll give a quick run-down of what we did in class.
You start by preparing the egg dyes and lining them up lightest to darkest: yellow, orange, red, blue, green, and black. You will follow this order of lightest to darkest when you dye your egg. You don’t have to use every single color, but stay in this order.
Trace a pattern in a pencil on your eggs. We had a variety of books and templates. Each design carries with it important symbolism. Megan says that her favorite part is the history and meaning of the designs. You can read more about the symbolism here.
For the novice egg decorator, some of the patterns are a bit challenging.
Mine ended up looking like a watercolor flower instead of a traditional Ukrainian pattern.
The actual pattern is done in a wax-resist process. After tracing my design with a pencil, I took my kistka tool, dipped the end in beeswax, heated it over the candle until the wax melted, then traced over the line with the wax. Whatever you trace over with wax, the underneath color is what will remain in the end. So, the outline of the flower is going to be white.
Then, starting with the lightest color, dip the egg in the dye for a few minutes.
Then dip your kistka in more wax, heat, and trace more of the pattern. Whatever you trace this time, will be yellow in the end. Keep repeating, with each dye becoming darker in color.
Once you have finished the design of your egg, hold the egg to the flame of the candle to heat up the wax. Take a tissue or paper towel and rub the wax off. You’ll begin to see the pattern emerge.
He made a Canada House egg.
He broke his egg. Whoops! One of the things a lot of people do after they finish their egg, is blow it out. You use a special tool to make a small hole in the egg, break up the yolk, then squeeze it out. They egg dries out and preserves better with this method. It’s also tricky and prone to breaking in the process.
Busted eggs aside, I highly recommend trying out Ukrainian Egg Decorating! We had a blast. I ordered our supplies from All Things Ukrainian (but there are tons of other sites for supplies as well). Lastly, this site gives much more specific steps and overview of the materials if you’d like to try it at home.