Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Have you heard of Pysanky before?
I’m talking about Ukranian Egg decorating/Polish Egg decorating. Learn Pysanky has a lovely site where you can learn more.
This goes back to my paternal Grandma. She can do and make anything. She has tried every kind of craft and art form there is. About 20 years ago, with a group of her friends, she tried her hand at Pysanky. She has about 8 or 10 eggs that she displays year round at her house. Growing up, I would carefully look at the delicately decorated eggs. I thought to myself, if I ever made them, I wouldn’t have visible pencil lines. And how wonderful I would be at making them. Afterall, I take after her in creativity. How hard could it be, right?
I’ve thought of Grandma’s eggs every year during the spring.
Last year, in my attempt to do a more grown up egg that I could show every year, I painted on paper eggs. I was quite happy with how this one came out. They were simple and I enjoyed making them.
This year I purchased this kit to see if I could try my hand at real Pysanky. I rallied the troops (called up my sisters and Mom) and invited them over for a night of decorating. Do you have sisters? How about 3 sisters? There is nothing better for a girl, than sisters and a Mom…well maybe a brother too and an amazing Grandmother. But the sisters and the Mom were able to come. (Sorry Katrina…see why you need to move closer? I’m just saying.) We swapped clothes to make sure we were all wearing clothes that could get dripped on. Isn’t that what sisters are for…swapping clothes? Except for the part where somehow I became the largest sister, but we won’t go into that today. Ooh, let’s back up again. We are all busy and have a gaggle of children between us. I was checking my set up the day of our great crafty night. The phone calls were flying between sisters and Mom to gather all the supplies. Somehow I forgot to get the Mason jars (note, get large mouth jars) for the dye baths.
In an effort to clean up for the night, my sweet husband had taken out all the recycled items including the stash of newspaper I was saving. Each sister ended up bringing something to have all the supplies for the night.It is great having so many sisters closeby because they are great resources for just such nights like that one. This makes a big mess and needs lots of room and plastic covering the table.
Let me just tell you this;
IT IS HARD TO DO PYSANKY.
There, I said it. I had been reading up on all the sites that contain anything about it for months. Erika checked out every book from the library on the subject. And I am my Grandma’s granddaughter, so I was going to be great. But no. I’m not. We had a ton of fun laughing at the dropped eggs, the painted fingers and the difficulty in getting the kitsky (tools for drawing wax onto the eggs) to flow easily.
Erika quickly became the master. It is funny because I was talking my game up. Erika, of all of us, said that she was going for simplicity. She was not going to get fancy. She thrilled us with this stunner.
Our older sister became the expert at getting the eggs out of the dye baths the best. I was scared of even attempting to get the eggs out of the jars. It is kind of the way life happens…we each discovered we were good at something different from the next sister.
Rebecca was getting good with the eggs too.
Here is one of hers outlined in white.
Now it was dipped into pink and more wax was added.
And her final reveal. Isn’t it lovely? I think hers ended up looking the most like traditional Pysanky.
Here is the side view of hers.
And a simple black and pink one she did.
My eggs were the ugliest of all.
When Erika’s egg came out so nicely, I was determined to make something pretty too. After my family left, I played and played. I gave up on the idea of making the pretty geometric shapes. I went with good old freehand. Forget the pencil marks too, I made uglier (is that a word?) eggs when I drew anything with a pencil. It is a long process, but in the end, I loved every second of it.
A basic run down of making them is:
You apply wax onto your egg by heating a kitska tool over a flame. This picture someone was attacking the flame, but you get the idea.
You dip the tool in wax and then draw on your egg.
It is the same principal as coloring on eggs with crayons. It becomes a resist. There is a special order to dip the eggs in color. You go lightest to darkest. Between each color, you draw more wax on the egg.
After you are done, you melt the wax and reveal your masterpiece.
We tried this first by putting the egg next to the flame.
We also used a heating tool that we use in scrapbooking for embossing. This was fine too. Either way, you need to quickly wipe off the wax and go back to the heat every few seconds.
Then you varnish it and Voila! You have pretty eggs. Now go toss some to your children and see if they can catch them;) No, really don’t unless you want scrambled eggs. Speaking of which, the jury is still out on the best way to treat the insides of the eggs. We have read that you can leave the insides intact and that over time they mostly absorb leaving you with some kind of a Weeble guy with just the yolk inside. There is debate about when to hollow them out if you choose to do so. Find what works best for you.
I was determined to make good on the purchase of the kit. I realized that I am not geometric, or traditional. I am a fly by the seat of my pants person. So I worked on a few more eggs. You will not see my attempts at traditional Pysanky eggs. Nope, not gonna share those. I will share these with you though…
Here was my first freehand egg it is a chick, can you tell? This is how it looked with the wax only on the egg. Then I dipped it in blue for a silhouette kind of effect.
This is the egg after I removed the wax, I was excited to try more eggs.
I have been obsessed with Rosemaling lately, so I tried it on an egg. I wish this picture didn’t come out too washed out, because the colors were pretty.
I decided to try a little more fancy design. Here is the egg with just wax on it.
Then I dipped it in pink and added some more wax. I just did a little bit of highlighting with the pink. Then she went into the red egg bath.
And here it is with the wax removed. Pretty, isn’t she?
Then I went all fancy schmancy with this one. I wanted to make it look like roses. I hand painted the colors from the dyes onto the places I wanted them on the egg. I would cover over then with wax just where I wanted them. Then in an orange bath (to take off the leftover unwaxed paint. For some amazing reason, the orange is made without vinegar. The magic of the orange is it covers up the other colors nicely. If you get into this, you will know what I’m talking about. So I did some small details after the red.
And here it is with the wax removed. In natural light.
With the room lights on because it is dark and rainy here (yay!)
Go forth and gather your troops. Make a big mess and have lots of laughs making your own Pysanky Eggs. Order your kit right away so you get it in time. Don’t forget to share your pictures with us. When I become rich someday, I’ll order the electric kitskas ‘cause they look like they would rock!
This experience with the tools and instructions for Pysanky eggs reminded me that I am not my Grandmother. Her eggs are now even more lovely than I ever thought before because I fully understand the craftsmanship that went into making not just one, but 8 or 10 gorgeous traditional Pysanky eggs. Even the pencil marks on them now are just amazing to me.
Rebecca here: I LOVED doing this! Really it was so much fun. Yes, it was tedious work, but we had Mama Mia playing for background noise for us, and the women in my family, so it was just enjoyable! If I didn't need to get home and put Grandma and my Babies to sleep, I could have stayed up all night (because going home at midnight does not count as all night). I can't wait to make some more. For all my hard work I only came home with 4! Yup, only 4! And they were worth every bit. Though my children did not understand why they weren't "decorating Easter eggs" with us too! Anjeanette, yours turned out lovely! So beautiful! I can't wait to do one with more of the colors. Thanks for getting the tools and inviting us over, Anjeanette! I also have always wanted to do this because of seeing Grandma's eggs. Though I never thought I could make mine as pretty as hers. She is a true artist, and I am more of a crafter. My hands shake and so I can not even draw a simple straight line. Which is fine by me. I just have to get more creative to hide this fact! ;)
**Anjeanette again...In all reality, I did not think I could make eggs as pretty as Grandma's...but I also didn't think I would royally suck at this. Our Grandma is amazingly talented and I can only pretend to copy her artistry. But I will always have fun trying;) She has done so many things well, that I have a lifetime of copying in store for me.
Oh My! Girls they are lovely. I am sorry that I missed it. However, I cannot draw to save my life so lets just say it is a good thing I didn't waste any of your supplies. I will forever admire yours though. ;)
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