Picture of Pysanky - Ukrainian Egg Dying
Pysanky is a traditional craft in Ukraine and Poland. The method is similar to batik - patterns are drawn on the egg with wax, which then protects the covered areas from the dye that is applied. By repeating this process with different colors of dye, a multi-colored pattern is built up. Finally, the wax is removed to reveal the colors that were covered up at each stage. A layer of polyurethane can be added over the finished egg to protect the dyed design and to give a gloss finish.

Traditionally, the eggs were left whole. They would eventually dry out and become light. Some of my eggs are left whole, in keeping with tradition. Some of my eggs are blown to allow them to be hung as ornaments.

to see many other examples of these eggs, check out my Pysanky gallery on Flickr

Step 1: Materials Needed:

Picture of Materials Needed:
Pure Beeswax Block
Heat Tool (optional)
Paper Towels

Before you begin, WASH YOUR HANDS! Oils on your hands can get on the egg shells and cause uneven dyeing. It helps to make sure your hands are clean before you start handling the eggs.

always start with room temperature eggs. cold eggs will sweat marring your pencil lines or your dye.
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HollyZ1 month ago

the pencil lines stay on the egg after wax is removed making an ugly finish

HollyZ1 month ago
peachysanchez3 months ago

Wow! I have never heard of this before. But this is beautiful. How can this art be dying? It's such a waste to let something this beautiful just die. :(

My interest in the Ukrainian culture started just about a week ago. I met a Ukrainian friend who shares a lot about their culture and history. He sometimes even cooks Ukrainian cuisine for me! Salo and Solyanka, and his favorite, Olivier. I put in more effort to know more about their culture by enrolling my self in http://preply.com/en/ukrainian-by-skype where I take Ukrainian classes online. (Okay, since I mentioned Ukrainian food earlier, I am suddenly craving. I hate it when this happens..)

He's told me a lot about Ukraine, but this is one thing he never mentioned to me. Maybe because men don't really do this sort of stuff? I don't know. But I'm sure if he mentioned this earlier, I would've pestered him to get me those materials. Haha!

Anyway, I would like to try to make some of these. I hope I can get all the materials needed. Thank you for sharing this!

Thank you for the instructable. I was given one of the decorating tools but had no idea how to use it.

JuliaS45 months ago


Ukrainian's Pysanka is so wonderful!

BestPysanky9 months ago
For the largest selection of pysanky Ukrainian Easter eggs decorating supplies go to http://www.bestpysanky.com/Pysanky-Supplies-s/60.htm
Traditional and electrical kistka, egg dyes, beeswax, egg stands and already decorated Easter eggs are for sale.
flashtuchka2 years ago
"Kistka" means "Brush", btw =)

Actually, it means "little bone." Current theory is that the first tools were carved from chicken leg bones.

rosane621 year ago

Nossa que lindo, mas nã vou conseguir fazer, bem a gente tenta né, mas os ovos não tem que tirar a gema e a clara, como furar ?

nanaverm2 years ago
Beautiful! You have a lot of patience and a steady hand!
robbadooz2 years ago
WOW! Nice!
olynyk2 years ago
The instruction series were well done. Check out the site Ukrainianeggs.com for ideas of various designs and supplies.
PhilKE3FL2 years ago
Thanks so much. My Russian Grandmother used to do something very similar melting colored wax, crayons, and dipping a large head pin, head first, into the wax and using that to make the designs. Dots, Lines that were fat & then tapered out, etc.
HollyHarken5 years ago
Where did you get the clear rings to display your eggs? I did pysanky eggs many years ago after taking a class, and never found a good way to display them other than egg cup holders. I love the look of the clear plastic ring to display the egg. Beautiful work!
You could also get a clear poly tube and cut it using a coping saw or similar to make your own. It depends on how many you are going to do. You can also get the rings esmecat used at a lot of geology stores. People use them to display geodes and whatnot.
esmecat (author)  HollyHarken4 years ago
those rings are another item available from the ukrainina gift shop... check out tier website for tons of display ideas....
monsterlego2 years ago
Cool! my mom does this :)
NightFire2 years ago
I was gifted an egg nearly identical to the black one with the deer on it, over 20 years ago. It's one of the few things that I still have that has survived all of my travelling.
mrneasthope2 years ago
If you don't use the whole dye right away. Can you put the liquid in a jar and use it the day later. Do you need to reheat it?
grannyjones3 years ago
We've been doing this for years, using first the traditional tools , made by my father-in-law from the cut up side of a soda can wired onto a stick, and more recently the electric kistky from Ukrainian Gift Shop in Minneapolis.
LucDaRocka13 years ago
where do i get beeswax?
esmecat (author)  LucDaRocka13 years ago
you can get beeswax in craft stores like Michaels in the candlemaking section. you can usually get a better price through by ordering from places online geared toward making your own beauty products.

but with either of those options you are probably going to have to buy by the pound. for pysanky, you need only a very small block of wax. if you check out any of the pysanky shops online, you can get small blocks of wax... but more expensive per ounce than the by the pound route.

my favorite online shop is the Ukrainian gift shop. http://www.ukrainiangiftshop.com/
apasek2304 years ago
We have the same thing in Poland :) Its pronounced the same I guess but spelled "pisanki." Nice tutorial too.
marki_marku4 years ago
what kind of dye do you use please? is it food colouring or clothing dyes?
esmecat (author)  marki_marku4 years ago
not food coloring. food coloring doesn't give vivid colors.

this is a special dye for pysanky from the ukrainian gift shop. it is an aniline dye and not food safe (so no eating the eggs after!)
Evan6064 years ago
Not to sound dumb or anything but where do you find the black dye?
esmecat (author)  Evan6064 years ago
all the dyes are available from the ukrainian gift shop - just google and you'll find them. these aren't the same as the egg dyes you get in the grocery store at easter... to get the vivid colors of these eggs, you need the non food safe (ie don;t eat the eggs) aniline dyes.
the designs are gorgeous. have you tried similar techniques on anything more permanent? like wood cut to the shape of an egg? i'd like to try this, but using something other than eggs.
esmecat (author)  dweebcentric4 years ago
actually, the eggs are permanent. these dyes are not food safe and the eggs are meant to be kept, not eaten. i have eggs (even whole raw eggs) that are more than 20 years old. actually, the whole eggs tend to last longer than the blown ones,because people tend to handle them more carefully. a layer of polyurethane(oil based) to protect the dyed shell surface does a lot to strengthen the shells.

there is also a tradition of painted wood eggs from Russia and the Ukrainian. you could definitely transfer these design ideas onto a wooden egg. i'm not sure the wax process would work so well though... seems to me the wax would stick in the porous grain of the wood when you went to remove it... plus the dyes would wick along the grain under the wax.....

to me, the wooden eggs and other replica style eggs lose something... the spirit of ephemeral and delicate nature of the eggs is lost. they feel heavy and clumsy in comparison.

good luck with your experimentations!
dobr4 years ago
nice eggs, in Ukraine is possible to purchase the same :)
siggleputz4 years ago
Another option: After blowing the eggs, put some of the vinegar solution into them with a syringe, give them a gentle shake and re-blow them, to rinse out the inside of the egg... never had a smelly egg.
lakramer5 years ago
This is so cool! I'm definitely going to try this! Thank you for the great step-by-step instructable!
sarahfish5 years ago
 Where do you get the kistka and dyes?  Perhaps I've just never seen them at a craft store, or are they online orders?  Also, what are the parameters on the dye? Would something line PAAS egg dyes work?
 Oh, and also these are brilliant!  the ones on flickr are gorgeous! My mom and I have been blowing eggs and hand painting for years (actually, she's been doing them since she was a kid)  but these are a whole new level, I can't wait to do them with her!
esmecat (author)  sarahfish5 years ago
thank you!
esmecat (author)  sarahfish5 years ago
most big chain craft stores won't carry these. i have one shop locally that does... but they specialize in gourd craft and use the dyes on gourds...

the major source (where anyone local would be getting them anyway) is the Ukrainian Gift Shop. the dyes are aniline dyes like those used for silk and bond to the protein in the shells. while you concievably could use the paas dyes, they are very light to begin with and would most likely fade very quickly. seems like a lot of work for something that won't last...
jerryofdc5 years ago
Wouldn't a hair dryer be as effective?
esmecat (author)  jerryofdc5 years ago
no actually. a hair dryer blows a LOT of air. a heat gun blows very little air... and much more heat.
Bubcia6 years ago
Sorry but this tradition comes from POLAND not Ukraine. It's called "pisanki". I make this every year, I'm Polish though ;)
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