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Topic: Pysanky (Ukranian Easter Eggs) - Image Heavy - Written Tutorial  (Read 7164 times)
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« on: April 14, 2005 04:22:45 PM »

Here are some Pysanky eggs I did around Easter.  What do people think?  They're pretty easy to do, if time-consuming.  (And yay, borrowed a camera from work and can actually post).  They are all original designs, though parts are inspired by traditional patterns.

New: Note that there is now a written tutorial about five posts down.

Egg 1:




The side of this egg has bamboo shoots in white.

Egg 2:




Egg 3


Back: "Why do bunnies lay eggs?"


Bottom back detail:

And my boyfriend did this one!  I was so proud - it's his first time doing something craftier than model airplanes and trussed bridges (he's an engineer):

« Last Edit: June 18, 2010 04:33:22 PM by jungrrl - Reason: fixed picture(s) » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2005 04:55:13 PM »

Those are great! I like the life/death one...They are VERY time consuming, as I did one once for Ukrainian Easter a few years ago...It was quite complex and kidna looked like your 'why do bunnies lay eggs?' one...

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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2005 05:22:30 PM »

Wow those are really good! Cheesy Yea i make those too but I do them with wax and then dye,etc. I saw a Ukrainian Easter display in Toronto and their really cool, part ukranian but polish. Smiley  I also like the life and death ones!

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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2005 07:16:32 AM »

Wow! I've seen eggs kinda like them before and I was trying to make my own but I didn't really know how to. In you get the time will you pleas epst a tutorial?

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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2005 11:48:53 AM »

Those are beautiful! I also love the chinese characters- well done with the strokes and their proper sizes. I would also like to see a tutorial when you get the chance. Great job!

« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2005 12:52:50 PM »

Very nice!  I really like the flowered one. Smiley

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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2005 02:18:34 PM »

Smiley  Ditto the tutorial request, please.

The Czech & Slovak Museum nearby has kits that use wax, but they didn't have any directions on display, so I'd like to know what is really involved before I invest....

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.Dave Barry
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2005 08:45:23 PM »

Thanks for all the compliments!  I don't know if I can do a proper photo-tutorial, as I think the supplies have probably been put away for the year, but I can walk you through the process:


Eggs, either whole raw, or blown (if blown, plug the ends with a very small amount of wax);

A Kistka (there are photos and examples on this page: http://www.kalyna.ca/eggsupplies.htm, however I am NOT suggesting or recommending buying from here as I never have - I source my supplies locally - that said, they might be good, I just don't know).

Edit: I have just found out that my local supplier (who lives down the road from me and whose supplies I am very happy with) has an online presence: http://www.babasbeeswax.com/.  I highly recommend her products.
This is the "writing" device that will make the wax relief marks on the egg. I personally prefer a wooden-handle kistka as the plastic-handled kistkas tend to melt at the tip, loosening the writing tip.  I've never tried an electric kistka, but I am a traditionalist.

Beeswax - should be in a lump form.  Pysanky places sell them, or you can just fold up a sheet of candle beeswax until it makes a big, reasonably solid lump.  Black wax works best, so you can see what you are doing, particuarly for beginners.

A candle - unless you are using an electric kistka.  Tea lights generally run out too quickly for me; I usually use a taper, covering the candle holder in aluminum foil to prevent dripping wax from ruining the holder.

Dyes - they sell special dyes to do this; they are very strong, bold colours, and when mixed right, they can last for years.  I mix mine up in canning jars, following the packet directions (about $1.75 CAN per package, 1 package per colour).

Spoons, a pencil, and paper towels.

- a peg board (scrap of wood with triangles of nails sticking up so the egg can balance on it)
- an oven for melting the wax off in the final step (you'll need the peg board to do this, though)
- a hairdryer - alternative to the oven or traditional wax removal method
- egg sealant - regular sealant may affect the dyes, I'm not sure, and if you're using whole raw eggs, you need to use no sealant or egg sealant so the egg can dry out (and therefore not rot).

Step One:
Plan your egg.  If you google Pysanky, you'll find lots of examples of traditional designs, which you can incorporate into your own.  Sketch major elements in light pencil on the egg; particularly important are any lines dividing the egg, as these are hard to freehand with the kistka.  Do not use an eraser on the egg, as erased areas can sometimes act as a resist, leaving areas that the dye won't take in.
You will also need to choose your colour progression at this point.  Some dye colours don't cover others very well, so you need to go one of two "streams" of colours (though you can stop at any point along the stream or skip colours).  You can use colours out of the opposite stream as small accents, however, using cotton swabs.
The colour streams are:
White, Yellow, Orange, Red, Maroon, Brown, Black
White, Yellow, Green, Turquoise, Blue, Purple, Black

Step Two: White
Heat the metal tip of your kistka in the candle flame, until it is hot enough to melt wax and keep it in it's liquid form.  It's a careful balance, as if the kistka gets too hot, it can cause the wax to boil and/or catch on fire.
Load the kistka with wax, by holding the lump of wax in one hand, and the kistka in the other hand, with the writing point down and the open cylindrical end upright.  Pull the kistka upwards through the wax, filling the reservoir with melted wax.  Practice drawing the tip of the kistka across a sheet of scrap paper.  You should get a smooth, even line with no lumps or blots.  When the wax begins to cool and no longer flows smoothly, reheat the tip of the kistka.  You can also refill with wax when necessary, but you should be able to go a long time without refilling.
Now use the kistka to trace the lines that you want to be white on your final egg.  You can also fill in parts.  Remember that everything you cover with wax will remain white, and that even if you take the wax off the egg, it will still cause resist, so incorporate any imperfections into your design.  Typically, most design outlines are in white, with colours filling in the areas later.

Step Two: Yellow
Place your egg in the yellow dye.  If it is hollow, you will need to place an object on top of it to cause it to sink below the surface - I find a bottle of tacky glue or hairspray does the job nicely.  Leave the egg in the dye until the colour is as you like it - anywhere from two to ten minutes is normal.  Dry the egg, either on the rack or with a paper towel.
Then use the kistka to trace lines and fill in areas you want to be yellow on your final egg.

Step Three: Spot Colouring
This is the time you need to incorporate any small areas of colours you want on your egg that aren't in the colour stream you want to take.  Using a cotton swab soaked in dye, place dye in the localized area you want to colour.  For example, egg 2 followed the blue stream, stopping at blue, so the red and black areas were done with spot colouring.
After dying the localized area the colour you want, cover the area with wax using your kistka.

Step Four: Colour Three: typically orange or green
Following your colour stream, dye your egg again, and use the kistka to fill areas you want to remain that colour.

Step Five: Other Colours
Repeat step four, using the successive colours from your colour stream that you wish to include.

Step Six: Black
When you are perfectly happy with your design, place it in the black dye.  Depending on the brand of the dye, it can take between five and fifteen minutes to get a true, deep black.  When drying, I find it best to let the egg air dry for a few minutes, and then to towel dry it the remainder of the way.  This seems to be the best in preventing spots or areas with different tones.

Step Seven: Removing the Wax
This is when you get to see your egg come alive in it's colourful glory!  There are three methods you can use: traditional (candle) method; oven method; or hairdryer method.

Traditional (Candle) Method:
Hold the egg close to the flame of your candle, slightly off to one side to prevent scorching.  The heat from the candle flame will begin to melt the wax.  When areas of wax become liquid and appear shiny, wipe the egg with a paper towel.  Turn the egg to the next bit of wax, and repeat until the egg is free of wax.  This is a very satisfying method, because you get to see your hard work be unveiled bit by bit, but it is more time-consuming than the alternatives.

Oven Method:
Place your egg(s) on the pegboard.  Turn your oven as low as it can go; around 150 F is good, if your oven is like mine and doesn't go below 250, leave the door ajar on the oven throughout the process.  Place the eggs on the pegboard in the oven, and leave them there 5-15 minutes, until they are shiny all over, and the wax has started to drip down onto the pegboard.  This will take longer if your eggs are whole, and less time if they are blown hollow.  When the wax is nice and melted, carefully remove the pegboard from the oven, and rub all of the now-liquid wax off with paper towels.

Hairdryer Method:
A mix between the candle and oven methods, blow your hairdryer at your egg (which is hopefully sitting on a pegboard so you don't have to hold an egg in very hot air) until a section gets nice and shiny.  Rub that section of wax off with a paper towel; move on to the next session.  Very modern, and fairly effective.

The Optional Step Eight:
Rub on the egg sealent; leave it on the pegboard to dry for 24 hours, or as per the instructions.  This will make the eggs nice and shiny, and will ensure the colours don't fade over time.

And that's it!  You've made your very own, very beautiful Pysanky, to keep, to gift or to share.  Just please don't do this on a hardboiled egg and then eat it - the dyes aren't good for you!

Hope the tutorial is ok; if not, please ask questions and I'll get back to you as soon as I see them.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2005 08:54:05 PM by crazy_bc_jen » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2005 06:07:28 AM »

Thank you, thank you! Now I'll just have to find time to try these!

« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2005 07:25:45 AM »

Wow, I've never seen anyone do these that were not the traditional sort of folk designs.  I remember going to the Polish festivals in Detroit when I was a kid and seeing them, and I've always wanted to try, being of Polish heritage myself.  Pretty cool!

A note about using whole eggs...  My mother has occasionally saved regular dyed Easter eggs, the kind that are boiled first, just because she likes the design we made.  We try to discourage her, but anyway...  You have to have a good safe place to keep them, because it can take a LONG time before it dries out inside.  It will eventually, but twice, my mom has tried to keep an egg and many many months later, even over a year later, it exploded and the smell is ...er...unpleasant, to say the VERY least!


"I live in that place between conception and execution" -- IQJones
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