An Ordinary egg Becomes Unexpected Art

The Egg

Is an egg a work of art? 

If you think about it, probably yes. 

But with a few modifications, an ordinary egg can become unexpected art.

Both my mother and grandmother made pysanky, Ukrainian Easter eggs.  Every spring they worked day after writing these eggs–most of them to sell as their church’s Easter Egg sale, but some special ones were for gifts for family and friends.

I tried my hand at writing these eggs, but its difficult, precise and you have to make hundreds in order to master the craft.  I inherited a collection of pysanky made by my grandmother, mother and other relatives.  The newest egg in this collection was made in the 1970’s, most are much older. Ordinary Easter eggs last a few days, these have lasted over 40 years.  How does this happen?  The yolk dries over time, becomes a solid mass that rattles around inside the egg. Today pysanky are blown after they are painted, but in the old days, this was not done.  Although the dyes used were strong,  the pysanky were  kept in egg crates, so they didn’t lose their color over time.  I did lose a few when my dog raided the basket  of pysanky displayed on my coffee table. She  ate all the eggs.  Those eggs were old, so I was very surprised that she didn’t get sick.

My grandmother painting pysanky (late 1930's)

My grandmother painting pysanky (late 1930’s)

A finished egg, painted by my mother.

A finished egg, painted by my mother.

Egg painting kits are available on-line, and they come with all the supplies except the eggs.  If you  try, don’t expect to get results like the eggs in the pictures right away.IMG_0338

How Pysanky are made. The basic design is drawn on the egg with a tool that  holds melted beeswax.  In the second stage, the egg is dipped in yellow dye, and the parts that will be yellow in the final design are covered with the beeswax.  More colors are added in the following order: orange, red, green, blue, and black.  Again, parts of the design are covered with the beeswax and the egg is dipped in the next color. When the  egg comes out of the final dye bath, the wax is melted by holding the egg near a candle flame and is gently wiped off, revealing the final design. The process can last a few minutes or several hours, depending on how complicated the design is.

 

An egg in the first stage.

An egg in the first stage.

The second stage

The second stage

Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Leave a comment