A couple of weeks before last Easter, my mother-in-law offered me a book with various egg decorating techniques. My attention was immediately caught by the Ukrainian Easter eggs or the so-called “Pysanky” (pysanka for singular). They were so pretty and looked so intricate. I had to try this technique.
There was only one small problem. I needed a kistka — the wooden pen you can see on the right of the post picture — and I didn’t have enough time to order one. I therefore just used my usual (“Bulgarian”) way of decorating the eggs and kept the book in mind. In the beginning of March, with Easter just about a month away, I thought of it again and immediately ordered a Pysanky kit online.
I chose a traditional kit, with a traditional kistka, as I wanted to experience the “real” thing. (My other options: more modern kistki, or to make things quite easier — an electric one.)
Basically, you put beeswax in the little tunnel of the kistka, heat it to melt the wax, and use it as a pen. I managed to decorate 9 eggs before promising myself that next time I decide to use this technique I would order the electric kistka. I can tell you that using the traditional one is a pretty effort and time-consuming activity. Even after the first 3 eggs (after which you get used to the method), it’s not easy. Though, once you melt the wax and begin to uncover the end result of your hard work, you realize it was quite worth it.
Of course, I didn’t even attempt to do any of the complicated designs (check those out, simply beautiful!), but I did my best to learn the process. Here’s in short the idea:
- Use white empty egg shells (edit: or hardboiled eggs, though I preferred not to as the dyes are not edible and, in my experience, they’ll go beyond the shell). (To empty the egg shells, you use a rather big needle and pierce carefully both ends of the eggs, piercing also the yolk. Then you either use a special tool to empty the egg, or blow from the top to empty all the contents into a bowl.) Make sure to seal the the holes with beeswax, or else the dyes will enter the egg during the dips, making a big mess later.
- Choose your design. The pamphlet that came with the kit recommended using a hard lead pencil to draw the design on the egg so you can follow it, but I didn’t like that because you could see the marks even after the dye, and you can’t erase them.
- Start working from light to dark (white -> yellow -> blue or green -> orange -> dark red). Whichever elements you want to be in a certain color, you must cover with wax. For instance, to make white vertical or horizontal lines, I’d take the egg before dipping it in any of the dyes and would draw the lines with the wax. Then I’d proceed. If I wanted green lines, I’d do them after dipping the egg in green, before the orange dye.
- At the end, melt the wax, bit by bit, on the egg by holding it close to a candle and wiping it off often and quickly.
- Enjoy your Easter pysanka!
Hopefully, this is an idea you’ll like and that you might even consider to decorate your own Easter eggs 😉 In any case, despite being a little early: Happy Easter to everyone!