Making Wax-resist Eggs (Pysanky) in Soft Brown Shades





Introduction: Making Wax-resist Eggs (Pysanky) in Soft Brown Shades

Choose a nice coloured brown egg (my chickens eggs come in many shades, a pack of free range eggs from a farmers market may yield interesting colours or shades).  If desired, colour the egg with an even darker shade of brown to make it richer in tone.  I used a shade of Ukrainian egg dye called "Nutmeg Brown".  Nothing dyes an egg like Ukrainian egg dye, I source mine at the nearest Ukrainian store (Koota Ooma).  When you buy the dye it comes as a powder and you mix it with distilled water and vinegar (for a mordant), then place it in clean canning jars and label, it will last you years if you keep it nice and clean.  My favourite egg dippers are those copper hoops that come in children's egg decorating kits at Easter, you can get them for very cheap after the holiday!

Step 1: Writing the Pysanky

Dry the egg and begin "writing" on the egg with a kistka (also available at Ukrainian stores) and beeswax.  Hold your kistka close to the side of a candle flame to heat it, then if you set the wax against the top in melts in.  If you are unable to find a kistka, you could use other techniques such as dip and dragging wax in petal like formations, another Ukrainian/Polish egg decorating technique (this involves a ball tipped tool).

Step 2:

When completed with your design, place the egg in vinegar for a few moments.  The vinegar will react with the calcium carbonate in the egg shell and begin dissolving it.  Take the egg out every 30 seconds and rub it with your finger to see the level of etching, remove and watch the egg under running water when you like the colour, using your finger to gently rub over the dissolved shell.

Step 3:

Blow the egg out ( I use a egg blowing device also available at a Ukrainian store)  I recommend you use a small nail with a cut end (the facets in the cut point are important) and slowly twist it while applying pressure to make holes on either end.  Then enlarge the hole a bit with a larger spiral 3 inch nail (again just lightly twisting).  Then insert a long wire to break the yolk and use your mouth or a rubber bulb to blow the egg out.  I usually blow the egg out first (prior to decorating) in case it is a structurally unsound egg so I don't ruin my work, however, with vinegar etching sometimes I don't as it easier to keep the egg submersed and vinegar does not get inside that way.  I also use a syringe to add water, shake it around and blow out again to clean the egg thoroughly.

Step 4:

Heat the blown egg in a microwave for 10 seconds at a time on a paper towel, until you see the wax get shiny, then take it out and wipe the wax off.  The wax gives the egg a nice polish!!



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    You can use the wax to help with the egg. After you blow it out, seal one end with wax, then fill the egg with water and then seal the other hole, and then it will sink to the bottom of your dye can. You can use a few drops of vinegar to erase the spots where the wax plugged the holes later when the eggs is finished. Nice work Phemy! The eggs look great!

    Thats cool, I learned the 'other' way i guess. We covered the white with wax and continued to dye and cover with darker colors until the final color was a dark color, even black. Then we melted the wax off next to a candle, exposing the vibrant colors underneath. Beautiful! Our kiskas were wooden dowels with little metal funnels stuck through the ends. We scooped the bees wax off a block and heated it until it would run like ink from a fountain pen. The occasional 'globs' just made the pattern more unique. I had that kit for about 7 years! I suggest you wear plastic gloves as your hands not only have oils on them that prevent the dye from 'taking' but they also tend to dull the colors on the ends where you hold them. I had my best one last for about 5 years under a glass dome.

    Wow these are pretty.

    I didn't even think to look on Amazon, that's great!! I get it from this store who also sells online:

    And that's also a good idea about the pellets! I use the sheet wax that you roll into candles, etc.


    Amazon sells it. Just search for "pysanky dyes" and "kistka". And get some chips of beeswax to melt to use to draw your designs. (You do NOT want to try to chop off a hunk from a block.)

    Beautiful eggs :-D it would be lovely to know more about how you did this - could we have more detail please? Also, I really don't think there's a ukrainian store anywhere near here; do you have any tips for online stores in english?

    Do you use a specific type of vinegar - malt/white/pickling, etc.? And would different vinegars have appreciably-different effects?

    2 replies

    I have used both normal white vinegar (5% acetic acid) and Allen's "cleaning vinegar" (7 or 10% I think). Both work fine, I suspect the higher acetic acid content would work at a faster rate, which may produce a cleaner, lighter tone but the difference is likely minimal. I don' t know the acidity of pickling but it would likely 7 so would work well. Same goes for malt, I am not sure of it's acidity, or if it would impart colour. Thanks for viewing!

    Thank YOU for posting - and your answer.

    Now, I don't suppose you have an ISBN for the book you mention?

    Thanks for the comments! The technique and design is based on one I saw by a master Ukrainian egg maker, but unfortunately I do not know her name because the whole book is in Ukrainian. Her designs are much more detailed and crisp and she etches the egg until its quite textured (I think she may also use white eggs dyed brown, as her backgrounds are white).

    Very beautiful, glad I learned something new today!

    The ones on the cover look stunning! Excellent job!