Ah yes…the smell of Spring is in the air and that means that Easter is upon us! My favorite part to Easter, by far, is the decorating of eggs! Each year I would go to my Grandmother’s house and waiting for me would be a dozen, gleaming white eggs, just waiting for whatever creativity I could come up. Filling up white canvases always scared me, but the blank canvas of a hard boiled white egg was just the right size.
While my decorating capabilities didn’t get too far away from a wax crayon or wrapping the egg in rubber bands to create criss-crossed lines (I highly recommend this if you’ve never done it), it never ceased to delight me! So while I claim no mastery of the craft of decorating eggs, there are people out there that have amazing creativity abilities when it comes to egg decorating.
Let’s take for example the Easter eggs of the Ukraine. Known as pysanka they are decorated using a wax-resistant method (also known as batik which is used to create fabrics from around the world). The word pysanka specifically refers to an egg that is decorated with traditional, Ukrainian folk designs. These folk designs include symbology ranging from birds and trees to geometric patterns. The patterns vary because the process of making these eggs goes back thousands of years to when pagan cultures would decorate the eggs with symbols of spring because the eggs represented the birth of Spring. With the rise of Christianity, the eggs came to represent the rebirth of man and the Resurrection. Thus the subject matter for these pysanka vary greatly, but are none-the-less interesting and intriguing.
The process of making a pysanka requires styluses of varying sizes that are used to apply layers of wax in varying patterns and dipping the eggs into dye between each layer to gradually have an egg that has multiple colors. When dying the egg they go from light to dark, the last layer usually being black to solidify the design. Then the way is reheated and wiped off to reveal the previous colors. Due to the shortage of colors made from natural dyes and the drying times of these dyes, eggs tend to have no more than 5-6 colors. But to my mind, that is more than enough to create something simply beautiful. A normal sized goose egg takes an expert pysanka maker on average of 5 hours to complete. This is not a craft for the faint of heart. To read more about other versions of the pysanka please go here.
I feel in love with the patterns and designs of the Ukrainian eggs many years ago. I have several of the cheaper version of these eggs, which is where they are wooden and then painted, but still with traditional Ukrainian designs. I simply cherish them. To have something as rare as a true pysanka would be to own a priceless piece of art.
So while you might not be attempting a pysanka this weekend or anytime soon, if you were thinking of passing up Easter without decorating some eggs, I hope this post inspires you to go face the crowds and pick yourself up a dozen eggs and get creative! Happy decorating!