Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Make Ukrainian Eggs (Pysanky) for Beginners

During my time as a Benedictine Hall Director, a resident of mine shared with us her family's Pysanky tradition. It was such a quite and meditative way to spend an afternoon that now, years later, making Pysanky is our Holy Saturday Tradition. 

Traditional Christian Pysanky are rich with meaningful colors and symbols, such as red for the blood of Christ and drawn wheat, crosses, fishermen's nets, etc while the egg is a symbol of the empty tomb and the new life that came from it. Slowing down and creating these beautiful works of art, which remind us of our faith in Jesus, helps keep our family focused on this day of waiting for the Resurrection.

I pulled out my dyes today and made a test egg to ensure they were still effective. While I was at it I took photos of the process so I could put together a tutorial on how to make these beautiful eggs. If you have older children who are too old for dying eggs with the tablets you get from a box, this is a fantastic way to continue the egg dying tradition. Happily, we've found that no matter what a person's artistic ability is, anyone can create an egg that they are proud of!

Here are the supplies you will need:

And for fun, two children's picture books on Ukrainian Eggs are Rechenka's Eggs and Easter Eggs for Anya

I should note here that I am not an expert on this topic. How we make our eggs is probably not the "right" way to make them, but it's the best way for us in terms of time and cost. There are things I won't dive into here, like varnishing eggs, whether or not to empty the eggs and when the best time to do so is, properly drying them out. Check out Learn Pysanky if you want to really get into this tradition, what I'm sharing is a family friendly, get it done in one afternoon experience.

Simplicity warning finished. Moving on to...

Step 1: Empty Your Eggs

Like I said, people debate about when to empty your eggs, if ever, but what we've found is that it's easiest to empty them right from the start, with a little help from the Blas-Fix.

Here's what you do:

Thank you to my 5 year old son for taking these pictures... I did a lot of cropping.
First drill a hole in the egg with the green stick. Just spin it back and forth until the shell is punctured. Then use the clear handled stick to poke the egg yolk in the egg until it is broken and runny. This helps the guts come out more easily. Next use the yellow squeezer to force air into the egg, which forces the guts out. You don't have to put the tip into the egg, just hold it over the hole and the guts will flow out. Finally cover the hole with wax. We'll get to using wax in a bit, but don't forget to plug your egg with wax or it will fill with liquid when you dye it.

Step 2: Draw Your Guidelines

(This design can be found at Learn Pysanky, which is a has everything you'd ever want to know of the topic!)

Using rubberbands to ensure straight lines and complete circles draw the guidelines and for your egg. The pencil will come off in the dying process, but make sure NOT to erase the lines if you make a mistake because dye won't stick to the egg where eraser has been rubbed on it.

Now your egg is ready to be written on with wax!

Step 4: Fill Your Kistka with Wax

This is really quite easy. Just hold the metal portion of your kistka over the fire for a few seconds until it is hot, then scoop some wax into the back of the kistka. If it is hot enough the wax will melt right into the well, if it doesn't put your kistka over the fire again. Now you are ready to write on your egg.

Step 5: Apply Wax, Dye, Dry, Repeat

Next you will begin a three step cycle. First, using the hot wax from your kistka, draw on your egg where you would like the current color of your egg to be preserved. In the first picture of the sequence below, everything that I drew with black wax will now remain white. Second, dye your egg the next lightest color that you would like to use, in my case this was orange. Third, allow your egg to dry. Now you can begin the process again by writing on your egg to preserve your new color, followed by dying it the next lightest color (red), and allowing it to dry.

(Here lies the disadvantage to emptying your eggs before you begin... hollow eggs float. Try holding them down with the back of a spoon, or rotate them in the dye every few minutes.)

Step 6: Melt Wax and Wipe Clean

Once you are finished with the writing and dying process you are ready to melt off the wax that has been preserving the colors of you pysanky. Hold your egg close to a candle flame to melt the wax and then whip it clean. 

Repeat until your egg is wax free and you are finished!

Check out these posts for more of my liturgical ideas!
Ideas for Lent
Ideas for Holy Week
Ideas for Easter Season

Be saints, it's worth it!


Related Posts with Thumbnails